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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/14/16

2016 Democratic Party Platform: A Slap in the Face to Black Americans

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The 2016 Democratic Platform on racial injustice amounts to nothing more than rhetoric at a time when the black community is deeply hurting from systemic injustices. It is an attempt to get people out to vote or the equivalent of promising a chicken in every pot. As if vague platitudes will console the wounds of black America. If the Democratic Party is serious about challenging racial, economic, political and social inequity, it needs to look in the mirror for the biggest culprit of all. Democrats have sponsored some of the most damaging bills that have devastated black America.

The 2016 Democratic Platform on Racial Injustice

Democrats will fight to end institutional and systemic racism in our society. We will challenge and dismantle the structures that define lasting racial, economic, political and social inequity.

Democrats will promote racial justice through fair, just, and equitable governing of all institutions serving the public and in the formation of public policy. We will push for a societal transformation to make it clear that black lives matter and there is no place for racism in our country. 2016 Democratic Platform, Racial Justice, p10

What is missing in the 2016 Democratic Platform on racial, social and economic injustices is specifics on how the Democratic Party plans to do all of this. How can it fight to end institutional and systemic racism when some of its own policies helped to create the injustices? Also, what mechanism will the Democratic Party use to dismantle racist structures and exactly which institutions will it target first? Pointedly, how will the Democratic Party both support and restructure law-enforcement agencies to address longstanding injustices against blacks? It must be one heck of a plan that can undo 400 years of racism against black people and transform society into accepting that black lives matter.

Institutional and systemic racism in our society is concentrated within structures of power such as federal, state and local governments and all levels of law enforcement. The murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile provides a close-up view of how racism operates in local law-enforcement agencies. On a larger scale we can see how racial injustice works through the Democrats' very own 1994 crime bill, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, signed into law by Bill Clinton, husband of current Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

The Democrats' 1994 crime bill helped to build the current prison-industrial complex by providing $30.2 billion over six years to build prisons. States had to agree to cut early paroles and lengthen sentencing so that inmates serve more time in prison. Over 60% of those impacted by the bill were serving time for drug offences. According to, the bill created incentives for states to build prisons and increase sentences, which led to mass incarceration. As if this was not enough, the Democrats also floated a bill that transferred weapons and vehicles from the Department of Defense to local police.

The 1997 National Defense Authorization Act provided $5.4 billion worth of supplies to local law enforcement, effectively militarizing police forces such as seen in Ferguson, Missouri. The tough-on-crime policies sponsored by the Democrats under Bill Clinton have helped to create the current civil unrest we are witnessing as over-militarized and -empowered police commit violence against black citizens. "I think where we are today partly can be attributed to what went on in the '90s," wrote Marc Schindler, executive director of the Justice Policy Institute.

To the credit of President Barack Obama the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 was signed to help address the disparity in sentencing for crack and powder cocaine, which saw more blacks receive mandatory five-year sentences as opposed to whites. Although, it was a step in the right direction it did nothing to help counter the 1994 crime act that even Bill Clinton later acknowledged helped to create racial injustices in the black community. During the '90s getting tough on crime and referring to black youth as super predators was the Democrats' response to white conservative America's growing concern over increased crime in the nation. Black Americans became the sacrificial lamb that the Democrats were more than willing to offer Republicans during negotiations.

Further evidence of how the Democratic Party actually promotes social injustice is through their welfare-reform bill, the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWOR), once again sponsored by Bill Clinton. The bill changed Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and gave states authority on how they could spend the funds, which increased discrimination against blacks in the programs. The new reforms limited recipients to receiving no more than five years of assistance over the course of their life. There were also work requirements with no considerations for child-care or adequate wages. States were pushed to reduce welfare rolls and many stooped to making the application process more complicated, fingerprinting and drug testing. A 2012 study by the Urban Institute revealed that overall TANF despite the emphasis on job training did little to help recipients find jobs. The Democratic welfare reform bill was a dismal failure that ended up hurting the poorest blacks who needed assistance the most.

The Democratic Party has a long history of using blacks to their advantage whether it be as dependable voting bloc such as the 94% blacks who put Obama back into office in 2012 or as sacrificial lambs to policies introduced in the '90s under Bill Clinton. Today the Democratic Party has the audacity to push for amnesty of over 11 million illegal immigrants knowing full well the devastating impact it will have on black Americans. Cut one demographic in order to appease another has been a longstanding game of the Democratic Party.

During the current Democratic Obama administration there has been a push to provide some form of amnesty for the over 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. Yet, several studies have shown that this will cause a negative impact to blacks. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights concluded in 2010 that, "Illegal immigration to the United States in recent decades has tended to depress both wages and employment rates for low-skilled American citizens, a disproportionate number of whom are black men.

Vernon M. Briggs, Jr., professor emeritus in labor economics at Cornell, in testimony before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, "The Impact of Illegal Immigration on the Wages and Employment Opportunities of Black Workers," Washington, D.C., October 14, 2010, has noted that both illegal immigrant and black workers tend to "cluster in metropolitan areas," thus increasing the likelihood that they will compete for the same jobs. Dr. Briggs adds, "There is little doubt that there is significant overlap in competition for jobs in this sector of the labor market. Given the inordinately high unemployment rates for low-skilled black workers (the highest for all racial and ethnic groups for whom data is collected), it is obvious that the major loser in this competition are low-skilled black workers.

Dr. Briggs concludes, "The continued reluctance by our national government to get illegal immigrants out of the labor force -- and to keep them out -- by enforcing the existing sanctions at the work site against employers of illegal immigrants is itself a massive violation of the civil rights of all low-skilled workers in the United States and of low-skilled black American workers in particular."

One of the most helpful studies yet to be done is why a majority of black people habitually support and defend a political party that continuously and historically panders to our own demise. The 2016 Democratic Platform has been washed in disingenuousness and rinsed in political correctness rendering it useless as a vehicle for building solutions to the racial injustices that blacks suffer today. Short on details but big on buzzwords, the 2016 Democratic platform is a slap in the face to the critical crisis of racial injustice our nation is facing.

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Sister Sharon Roach is a futurist and commentator. A resident of the Washington DC metro area with a fresh view of political and social issues. Activist against racial injustices of black people in America. Author of the Book of Spiritual (more...)

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2016 Democratic Party Platform: A Slap in the Face to Black Americans

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