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Music and the Creative Spirit

Curtis Mayfield: After the Rain

By Published: December 26, 2010
In Mayfield's hometown of Chicago, the number of those incarcerated for a drug crime between the years of 1985 and 2005, increased by 2,000 percent . And even though African Americans and Latino's only make up 25% of today's drug users; they are 90% of those incarcerated for a drug offense. In contrast, whites are over 70% of today's drug users but only about 10% of those in prison for possession.

When young black youth are arrested for drug possession for the very first time, they are incarcerated forty-eight times greater than the rate for white youth, even when all other factors surrounding the crime are identical.

According to a Justice Department report in 2005, "Contacts Between Police and the Public," black males are three times more likely than white males to have their vehicles stopped and searched by police, even though white males are four times more likely to have illegal contraband in their cars.

William Bennett, the former drug czar under President George Bush, stated that the average drug user in America is a fully employed white male in his thirties.

Black youth are six times more likely than whites to be sentenced to prison for identical crimes. However, the U.S. Justice Department has found that biased treatment is magnified even more with each additional step into the criminal system.

Additionally, more African Americans are in prison today, on probation or parole, than were enslaved in 1850, a full decade before the civil war began. Is it any wonder that black children are less likely to be raised by both parents?

The Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education has reported that 95% of whites report envisioning a black person when asked to envision a typical drug user. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control, only 13% of blacks make up the total percent of all drug users.

According to one survey on Nightly News, 60% of the images of African Americans are negative in tone.

Princeton sociology professor, Devah Pager, summarized in her book, Marked, Race, Crime, and Finding Work in an Era of Mass Incarceration, (University of Chicago, 2007), found that white men with a criminal record are equally, or even slightly more likely to be called back for a job interview than black men without one, even when the men are equally qualified and present themselves to potential employers in an identical fashion.

National studies have found that more than 80% of brutality victims are people of color, while the overwhelming majority of officers involved are white, and in three out of four cases where police kill someone, the person killed was unarmed.

According to justice Department data, we are five times more likely to be victimized by a white person than by a black person.

According to the American Journal of Public Health, about 900,000 blacks died from 1991 to 2000 but would not have died had they had access to health care that was equal to that received by the average white person.

94% of government contracts go to white-male owned businesses.

Since the 1970s, a vast majority of black families have lived in the poorest neighborhoods for consecutive generations compared to only 7 percent of whites that lived in similar poverty.

It took five days for food, water and medical supplies to reach New Orleans after Katrina. How long would it have taken if the same situation occurred in Boston or Manhattan?

2006 saw the largest number of race based housing discrimination complaints on record, and according to government and private studies, there are up to three million cases of housing discrimination each year against people of color.

According to the National Urban League's The State of Black America Report 2006, one-third of Black men are in prison. What kind of message does it provide when as a society we are willing to pay far more to incarcerate individuals who are black than to pay a much smaller price to improve their education?

Black and Latino students are about half as likely as whites to be placed in advanced or honor classes in school, even when test scores and prior performance would justify higher placement, and are twice as likely to be placed in remedial classes.

Indiana University conducted a research that reviewed fourteen studies from across the nation and discovered that students of color are two to three times more likely than whites to be suspended or expelled from school, even though the rates of serious school-rule infractions do not differ to any significant degree between racial groups.

In one of Charles Murray's studies, he found that there are blacks that have equal IQ's to whites but earn less money. They are also 32% more likely to have a college degree.

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