13th on Juneteenth
“We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force: separate but equal.”
In case you missed it, we just invented a 6th branch of the military. Space Force. And called out the battlecry for American apartheid. All in one sentence.
But not even a shout out to lawful racial segregation with a proclamation of galactic domination could drown out the audio of wailing immigrant children in cages in Walmart.
Today is Juneteenth. Fox news covered it (in a way that’s problematic for other reasons) and the Fox audience comments came in at what I’d call not-so-fringe-troll/mainstream-porn level racism. How dare they invite us to celebrate freedom?
The 13th Amendment says no slaves except prisoners. That’s the law. And we are okay with that.
We invented vagrancy laws and made it a crime to be “without visible means of support”. That way we could have chain gangs and workers in fields and factories for free. Prisoners pick crops and sew clothes answer calls and manufacture stuff and we are okay with that.
We have been locking up and ripping babies out of the arms of the conquered, the enslaved, the criminalized, the addicts, the the most poor, the most vulnerable, for centuries. Its what we do. Its what we have always done. We are, apparently, okay with that.
Now we can all literally hear their cries and it makes us sad. So we are not okay with that. We blame the President, or the system, or M13, or whomever we chose to focus upon, externally.
Vagrancy laws lasted until the year I was born. De jure separate but equal and the vagrancy laws ended but the practices just morph into new monsters. We criminalize the symptoms of poverty, of disease, of victimization, of seeking asylum. We assassinated the War on Poverty to wage war on the poor. On drugs. On immigration. In my lifetime the prison population has increased 500+%. We have 5% of the worlds population and 20% of its prisoners.
No one has more people in jail and prison than us. No one. Believe me. Everyone agrees. We have huge prisons. Huge.
And They are run by private, for-profit, profitable companies. The largest one, GEO Group had its last leadership summit at a Trump golf course. It is classified as a real estate investment trust. It spends millions of dollars annually lobbying. It donated to Trump super PACs. It loves Trump. When he reversed the Obama policy of reversing the trend toward privatization of prisons, its stock went nuts. It’s been build, build, building like mad since.
It owns and runs the federal immigration detention centers. It buys the warehouses and Walmarts and builds the cages for the babies. The NYSE values it at $7,432,590,000.00
Homeland Security uses your money to pay GEO to put them in cages grouped by ages. For a few days. Then they move to a new box store that has beds. And basketball, movies, and Zumba. Zumba classes. Because that’s what all children in the throes of shock and trauma want. It costs a lot of money to house them, feed them, teach them Zumba.
We pay for that. We shake our heads and express dismay and then we pay for it. With our taxes and our investments. Here are some shareholders in GEO: Bank of America, Vanguard, BlackRock, State Farm, State Street, Prudential, Tiaa-Cref, the Public Employee Retirement Systems of I don’t know how many states, maybe all. Pretty much every mutual fund, hedge fund, all the funds, the banks, the whole street.
So, before you distance yourself too far from this latest round of atrocities, before you blame THEM, please be aware that it is US.
We do this. We do racism, isolationism, nationalism, xenophobia. We benefit from it and we, generally speaking, do nothing to stop it. Our individualistic values and apathetic behaviors, living the dream, willfully ignorant, we created these de-empathized tyrants and ICE monsters. This is us.