By William Reed
There is no easy way or walk to freedom; no shortcuts to justice; no quick fix for conceiving and constructing the good and sustainable society and world we all want and deserve. Indeed, to achieve the good we all want in the world, we must work and struggle long and hard. We must be in it for real, for the good, and for the long.
– Maulana Karenga
It’s time for every Black American to take action by tweeting about, shouting about, and phoning and faxing about the challenge that has been issued by Elder Ron Daniels. Daniels is head of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and has launched an online petition campaign to recruit an “Army of Advocates and Organizers” to end the War on Drugs (www.ibw21.org).
First, to honor Daniels and his living legacy of activism and progressive politics, it’s time Blacks collectively heeded his call to “End the War on Drugs.” Secondly, show our ire that the War on Drugs has been proven to be a racially biased “war on us” that has disproportionately targeted African Americans.
There are entrenched forces that have a vested interest in policies that have produced mass incarceration of African Americans and spawned the prison-jail industrial complex. To combat the injustice of the system and War on Drugs, it’s time Blacks take a principled stand that confronts the reality of the racial dimensions of crime and punishment in America. Racial bias in America´s criminal justice system is a fact of life, to which Daniels recommends “something akin to Martin Luther King´s ‘coalition of conscience’”… to persuade a majority of Americans to press for reforms to rectify the wrongs of the War on Drugs and decades of blatant neglect that have wreaked havoc on so many communities and ruined the lives of millions of Black families.
If each of us took it personal, we’d push Daniels’ agenda to “End the War on Drugs.” If we collectively show concern, we can overcome the media’s silence and lack of concern policymakers have shown toward addressing this devastating crisis. If not us, who? Efforts by known civil rights/human rights leaders to dismantle the War on Drugs have been episodic and largely ineffective. But, Daniels’ voice has been constant that “Black leaders, activists and organizers must not equivocate while millions of our sisters and brothers suffer in urban inner-city neighborhoods across this country.”
It is imperative that we raise our voices and mobilize/organize to transform the conditions of millions of our Black brothers, sisters and family kin languishing in “America’s system of justice.” It’s “just us” and to effectively address the “State of Emergency in Black America,” we all must put our collective weight toward confronting and combating the War on Drugs.
Call somebody now, and tell them “to take action to end the War on Drugs.” Tell them to tell somebody else to “end this despicable war on us.” The “War on Drugs” costs about $40 billion per year and its national price tag has totaled over $1 trillion. It has resulted in one of Washington’s largest bureaucracies, the Drug Enforcement Administration, with more than 10,000 employees, 226 offices in 21 divisions throughout the U.S., and 86 foreign offices in 62 countries.
Our best hope rest with Blacks ready and able to challenge and change the terrible policies and practices the War on Drugs has wrought. It’s time to sign up for Daniels’ army. Sign up online (www.ibw21.org) In addition to initiating a call, visit your local lawmaker. Let’s follow Daniels’ lead when he says: “There’s a State of Emergency in Black America and each of us must step up.” Make it a point to tell people you know to contact their respective lawmakers and policy-influencers and say: “It’s time to end the War on Drugs.” Black Americans, and their leaders, must all move toward individually, and collectively, raising our voices and mobilizing/organizing to better our lives and communities.
William Reed is head of the Business Exchange Network and available for speaking/seminar projects through the Bailey Group.org.