Friday, December 5, 2014

Parallels to the African American experience in our country

GUEST: Jamie Levato, human rights advocate for the LGBTQ Task Force in Kingston, NY, talks about to undoing mass incarceration and institutional racism on the local level.

Jamie and I had an interesting discussion of LGBTQ rights within the prison industrial complex and outside of it. LGBTQ prisoners are beaten, raped and harassed at rates several times higher than for other inmates. This stems from a general lack of respect for LGBTQ people within our society, and even within their own homes. They are second class citizens in what is supposed to be a free society. 

The parallels to the African American experience in our country hardly needed to be made. Of course, when an LGBTQ prisoner is also black, the discrimination is compounded. 

Is it the mostly white and mostly hetrosexual judicial system that allows this to happen? Even the Supreme Court seems to care less and less about voting rights for blacks or about abortion rights for women. Or is it the many politicians who encourage racism and sexism in their campaigns to win elections. Hatred generates support from the huge number of white voters who are angry about low wages and diminished expectations. From Reagan's "welfare queens" to George H. W. Bush Willie Horton ads, stirring up hatred should be a crime, not a road to the presidency. 

Are we in a period of social activism that can make changes in our racist, misogynistic, and homophobic system? Perhaps a larger change is on the horizon, a challenging of America's military empire that thrives on violence and discrimination directed at citizens of the Third World. Maybe our police come home from shooting "sand niggers" in Iraq to shooting black people in our streets. Perhaps our country's occupation and exploitation of other nations comes back to poison our own society as well. 

Here is the type of racism that our political system is capable of producing:


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