The System Didn’t Fail Eric Garner. It Worked How a Racist System Is Supposed to

In reality, Michael Brown and Eric Garner had no chance, and we should not pretend like they did. They were caught up in a system that has done to thousands before them what it will do to thousands after them. Despite having just 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States has a quarter of its prisoners. The weight of this punishment falls disproportionately on African-Americans. While state authorities previously used slavery and segregation and Jim Crow to subject and control the Black population, the excuses for racialized control eventually ran out. It became unpopular to be a racist, and so a separate artifice was constructed to sequester and subdue African-Americans. In the political sphere, this was Richard Nixon’s victory with his racist electoral strategy. As H.R. Haldeman blushed about his boss, President Nixon “emphasized that you have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.”

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