RACIST LAWS IN THE USA
[Also see "The 1619 Project: a Double Edged Sword"]
[Explicit racial discrimination, such as what this article discusses below, is wrongly downplayed (or even denied) by those who say the real problem is "implicit racial bias" that causes ordinary good people to act in a racially biased manner even when they don't want to do so, as [supposedly] shown by the "Implicit Association Test"--a test that does not do what it proponents claim it does, as you can read about in detail here.]
Racist laws in the USA today work like this. Unlike in the past when the racist laws referred explicitly to race and were thus explicitly discriminatory against non-whites (that's what the Jim Crow laws did), today's racist laws do not explicitly refer to race. Instead, today's racist laws refer to racial groups indirectly.
One way they do this is by discriminating against people who work in a particular kind of job--such as agricultural workers or domestic workers--when the fact of the matter is that (because of previous laws that were explicitly racist against non-whites) non-whites are very disproportionately (i.e., relative to their proportion of the general population) employed in the discriminated-against kind of work. This is discussed in detail below.
Another way today's racist laws refer to racial groups indirectly is by discriminating against poor people. Since non-whites are disproportionately poor, these laws discriminate against non-whites even though they do not refer to any race explicitly. One example of this is the law that determines the amount of cocaine a person must possess in order to be convicted of a felony and incarcerated a long time, as I explain in my article, "How the 18:1 Law Makes the War on Drugs Racist."
Virtually all of the laws today that protect the right of private property in the context of the fact of class inequality (i.e., that protect the right of rich people to live in greater ease and comfort than poor people) discriminate against poor people. This obvious fact was once famously expressed this way:
"In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread"--Anatole France
The law that says you must pay your rent or be evicted, for example, is never applied to rich people such as Mr. and Mrs. John Kerry who own many mansions.
Since non-whites are disproportionately poor, anti-poor laws are also racist laws. The REASON non-whites are disproportionately poor is because of explicitly racist laws in the past. Read about an example of this--the 1862 Homestead Act--below.
Today domestic workers are covered by Social Security but they are NOT covered by the National Labor Relations Act or by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or by the Occupational Safety and Health Act or by the Family and Medical Leave Act or by the Americans with Disabilities Act or by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.
Blacks and Hispanics are disproportionately working as domestic workers: while blacks and Hispanics combined are only 30.9% of the American population they are a much larger percentage of domestic workers: "The vast majority (91.5%) of domestic workers are women and just over half (52.4%) are black, Hispanic, or Asian American/Pacific Islander women." Racial discrimination by the Federal government is clearly not just something that happened in the past.
Similarly, agricultural workers today are overwhelmingly (99%) non-white and continue to suffer from overt racial discrimination by the Federal government. Here is how the Growing Food and Justice for All Initiative summarizes it:
"Agricultural workers in the United States suffer from an institutional racism reflected in discriminatory U.S. laws derived in an unbroken chain from the institution of slavery that characterized U.S. agriculture until 1865.
•Farm workers are the lowest paid occupational group in the United States, with the vast majority living below the poverty level.
•Over one third own nothing more than what fits into their bags as they migrate from farm to farm.
•Farm work is one of the most hazardous occupations in the nation, with an accident and injury rate far higher than the average. Farm workers are also exposed to toxic chemicals on a routine basis. Most farm workers do not have access to adequate medical care, compounding the health risks they face on the job.
•Ninety nine percent of all migrant farmworkers are members of an ethnic minority, the vast majority are Latino. Seventy to seventy five percent of the entire agricultural workforce (migrant and non-migrant) in the U.S. are members of racial minority groups."
The dismal socio-economic status of farm workers in the U.S. is not a reflection of the inherent nature of agriculture, but rather it is the direct result of deliberate policy positions that have been enacted that grant farm workers fewer rights and social benefits than any other occupation in the nation.
•Farm workers, together with domestic workers, are exempted from collective bargaining rights granted workers in all other industries by the National Labor Relations Act .
•Farm workers have fewer legal protections than other workers or are entirely exempt from a wide range of federal laws, including minimum wage, overtime, child labor, Social Security, and unemployment legislation.
•U.S. laws pertaining to farm workers violate many international human rights laws.
"These policy injustices are steeped in a history of racism that dates back to the institution of slavery in the United States."
[The link to the above quotation is broken, but the same information is available online here.]
Past Explicitly Racist Laws Make Non-Whites Much Poorer than Whites Today
Read more here about how past overtly racist laws continue to operate today and oppress non-whites predominantly: "The U.S. economy was built on the exploitation and occupational segregation of people of color. While many government policies and institutional practices helped create this system, the legacies of slavery, Jim Crow, and the New Deal—as well as the limited funding and scope of anti-discrimination agencies—are some of the biggest contributors to inequality in America. Together, these policy decisions concentrated workers of color in chronically undervalued occupations, institutionalized racial disparities in wages and benefits, and perpetuated employment discrimination. As a result, stark and persistent racial disparities exist in jobs, wages, benefits, and almost every other measure of economic well-being."
Another major reason why blacks have so much less wealth than whites in the United States is this. About one quarter of the United States population (as of 2000) were descendants of people who became land owners for the first time because of the 1862 Homestead Act that gave them--essentially for free--160 acres of good farmland to own outright. The people who were able to get free land this way were almost entirely white; hardly any blacks were able to get land this way due to a host of various racially discriminatory practices and laws including, but not limited to, slavery itself.
After working as slaves on southern plantations, blacks were denied any ownership of the plantation acres, which remained the property of the slave owners. "As sociologist Thomas Shapiro pointed out, if that many Americans can potentially trace their 'legacy of property ownership' to these entitlement programs, modern-day issues like 'upward mobility, economic stability, class status, and wealth' need to be understood as directly related 'to one national policy--a policy that in practice essentially excluded African Americans.'" [Masterless Men: Poor Whites and Slavery in the Antebellum South by Keri Leigh Merritt, citing The Hidden Cost of Being African American: HowWealth Perpetuates Inequality(New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), 190.]
"The G.I. Bill is often hailed as one of Roosevelt’s most enduring legacies. It helped usher millions of working-class veterans through college and into new homes and the middle class. But it discriminatorily benefited white people. While the bill didn’t explicitly exclude black veterans, the way it was administered often did.* The bill gave veterans access to mortgages with no down payments, but the Veterans Administration adopted the same racially restrictive policies as the Federal Housing Administration, which guaranteed bank loans only to developers who wouldn’t sell to black people. ‘The major way in which people have an opportunity to accumulate wealth is contingent on the wealth positions of their parents and their grandparents,’ Darity says. ‘To the extent that blacks have the capacity to accumulate wealth, we have not had the ability to transfer the same kinds of resources across generations.’" [from The New York Times Magazine, August 18, 2019 , pg. 83, an article by Trymaine Lee, as part of the 1619 Project]
"New data from the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) show that long-standing and substantial wealth disparities between families in different racial and ethnic groups were little changed since the last survey in 2016; the typical White family has eight times the wealth of the typical Black family and five times the wealth of the typical Hispanic family....In the 2019 survey, White families have the highest level of both median and mean family wealth: $188,200 and $983,400, respectively (Figure 1). Black and Hispanic families have considerably less wealth than White families. Black families' median and mean wealth is less than 15 percent that of White families, at $24,100 and $142,500, respectively. Hispanic families' median and mean wealth is $36,100 and $165,500, respectively." [from federalreserve.gov ]
Racial Discrimination Against Non-Whites HARMS Ordinary Whites Too
Please read further about why racial discrimination against non-whites harms--not benefits!--ordinary whites, in these articles:
THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY CLAIMS TO BE OPPOSED TO RACISM BUT IT DOESN'T MOVE TO ABOLISH THE RACIST LAWS
Democratic Party politicians, despite their rhetoric about opposing racism, do not move to abolish the racist laws, or amend current laws to make them no longer be racist, for example by allowing currently excluded domestic and agricultural workers to enjoy the benefits that other kinds of workers now enjoy under the law.
Instead, the Democratic Party politicians use "white privilege" rhetoric to falsely lay the blame for systemic racial discrimination (which they never identify specifically, only refer to in vague terms that make it easy for people to dismiss as un-real) on ordinary white people, and to falsely accuse ordinary white people of benefiting from it. The effect of this--the intended effect!--is to anger working class whites who feel wrongly and falsely accused. It makes many working class whites decide that anti-racism is really code for anti-white. It makes many working class whites defensively assert that there really is no systemic racism in the first place (since the "white privilege" framework makes an admission that there really is systemic racial discrimination equivalent to an admission of guilt for its existence).
This is how the liberal agents of the ruling class (the Democratic Party politicians and associated pundits) use a phony "anti-racism" to foment resentment and distrust between white and non-white working class people, to divide-and-conquer the have-nots, to ensure that the rich remain in power.
WHAT ABOUT REPARATIONS?
Please read my "Reparations the Good Way" about how reparations ought to be done.
* The following is from "The GI Bill was one of the worst racial injustices of the 20th century. Congress can fix it.: Benefits of legislation meant to help all veterans were routinely denied to Black veterans." by Linda J. Bilmes and Cornell William Brooks in the Boston Globe, February 23, 2022.
The original GI Bill, signed into law in June 1944, was hailed as a transformative measure by president Franklin D. Roosevelt. It provided veterans with loan guarantees for a home mortgage, money for college or vocational school, and unemployment compensation. The bill helped over 4.3 million veterans — mostly Irish, Italian, Polish, Jewish, and other working-class European immigrants — to buy a home.
Between 1944 and 1955, GI Bill mortgages accounted for nearly one-third of all new US home loans, with a present-day value of $340 billion. Nearly 8 million veterans used the education benefits to attend college or vocational school. The bill enabled them to become doctors, dentists, teachers, engineers, accountants, and other professionals, as well as to train as electricians, plumbers, builders, and other skilled trades. As they moved to suburbs, these veterans accumulated wealth, boosted the economy, and drove mid-century American prosperity.
The GI Bill did not explicitly exclude the 1.8 million Black Americans who fought in World War II and Korea. But in practice, the bill’s benefits were almost entirely restricted to whites, making it one of the worst racial injustices of the 20th century.
Members of Congress from Jim Crow states insisted that the law be implemented at the state level. This enabled southern states (home to 79 percent of returning Black veterans) to deny GI benefits to Blacks. In Mississippi, for example, a survey of 13 cities revealed that only two out of 3,229 GI Bill home mortgages went to Black veterans. Moreover, most US cities practiced redlining, in which homes outside certain poor neighborhoods could not be sold, or insured, to Black people. Many lenders refused to lend to Black veterans, even though GI mortgages were guaranteed by the federal government. In New York and northern New Jersey, fewer than 100 of the 67,000 mortgages backed by the GI Bill were granted to non-whites.
Likewise, few Black veterans were able to gain access to the educational benefits of the GI Bill. Southern states barred Black people from attending most colleges, universities, and trade schools. Nearly 95 percent of eligible Black veterans were directed to attend historically black colleges and universities, which were then kept tiny and chronically under-resourced. In 1945, about half of HBCUs had fewer than 250 students; few offered professional degrees. Many skilled trades were open to whites only.