One of the questions that I ask particularly of people of color is, why don’t you take a more active voting position? Last year one 60-something African-American man told me that he did not get into white people’s business, speaking of voting.
Normally I would try to tell someone like that why it’s important to vote, but where there is no floor, where do you stand?
I told myself some things are best left alone; I was not going to make a difference in that kind of darkness.
It is easy to gloss over the struggles that African-Americans have waged to gain the right to vote. A right that white men bestowed upon themselves and them alone. Yes, at one time, they did not even allow their white women to vote. No, even if her daddy left her wealth, her husband had great power over her inheritance. She could not purchase property or do what she pleases with her own money.
It would be easy for someone to automatically assume that because of those struggles, African-Americans would be attuned to the power of voting, or at the very least be enlightened by the war that the white power structure has waged to prevent them from voting.
Unfortunately, this is not so, but to be fair Black women have been loyal soldiers in the struggle to register and get others to vote.….…… Today Charles Schumer owes his Senate Majority Leadership to Stacy Abrams and others who worked to deliver not one, but two Democratic US Senate seats in Georgia, the heart of Dixie.
One of the misconceptions that exist at the local level, is that local Republicans are somehow less evil than national Republicans. As if national Republicans are from Mars.
Black voters are fooled into thinking that they can live with local Republican elected leaders, not understanding that Republicans’ harm begins at the local level.
Like groundhogs, they burrow into the heart of our everyday lives, existing in pretense, they visit our churches, they pretend to be friends by throwing a few bones, but their intentions are nefarious.
On the issues that are of the greatest significance and importance to African-Americans, Republicans at all levels are unitarily opposed.
Please make no mistake about it; voting is not solely about opposition to a hateful white-supremacist agenda. It is also about wolves-in-sheep’s-clothing-democrats who cannot get elected without the African-American vote, but who vote in support of a white supremacist Republican agenda as soon as they are elected.
The New York Legislature recently Voted to Legalize Adult-Use Marijuana; the Bill was signed into law soon after by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Over several decades America’s war on drugs has wrought untold suffering and death on African-Americans and other Black and brown people, as police live out their blood-lust of hatred on innocent people they did/do not like.
Using draconian stop & frisk, traffic stops, and raids on Blacks’ homes and property, police across the United States have filled jails to the overflowing, feeding the hungry beast of mass incarceration as police plant drugs and engage in all kinds of abusive and deadly practices against African-Americans.
Police have wrecked countless lives and filled cemeteries with the bodies of those they killed in botched drug raids, in many instances having entered the homes of innocent people using bad intelligence.
The sad fact is that for the most part, those drug laws were the brain-child of Republicans and so-called moderate Democrats.
Although there is consistent data that shows that African-Americans do [not] consume drugs or alcohol in greater quantities than whites or any other racial group, police have used drug enforcement to exact a draconian assault on people of color.
The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act passed the NYS Senate recently by a vote of 40 – 23.
All 20 Republicans voted against the Bill’s passage, even with the knowledge of the destruction that the nation’s drug laws have caused on Black people.
Let that sink in African-Americans, the next time they come into your churches to tell you about themselves and seek your vote, or to lull you into a false sense of security because you refuse to be informed by the facts.
In addition to the Republicans, who have acted in lock-step with their counterparts in Washington DC, three (3) wolves- in- sheep-clothing ‑democrats voted [no] to the Bill’s passage.
Anna Kaplan, a Long Island State senator, was one of the Democrats who voted against the bill, using the flimsy excuse that there is still a lack of technology to detect impaired driving.
“I have long-held concerns and have spent the last few weeks speaking with constituents,” Kaplan said. “Long Island already leads the state in traffic fatalities.”
Here is the thing, there is zero evidence in that statement that the traffic fatalities on Long Island have anything to do with marijuana. Many factors may be responsible for those traffic fatalities, including reckless and dangerous driving, poor roads, and even impaired driving from alcohol or synthetic drugs favored by the whiter population, the further out on Long Island you venture.
Under the new law, police will no longer be able to use the smell of cannabis to justify searches. New Yorkers with convictions for marijuana use will have their records automatically and immediately expunged.
Tom, an African-American man (not his real name) who worked for years as a Corrections officer and has recently retired, told me the only reason that New York state passed this law is ‘money.
I told him that even though I was just as cynical about the motives behind the new law’s passage, I was buoyed at the restorative justice that may be derived from it…
Speaking of money…
The state will also be creating the Office of Cannabis Management, which will set up regulators and licensing distributors.
Cannabis products will be subject to a 9 percent state tax and a 4 percent local tax. The local tax would be split, with 1 percent going to counties and 3 percent going to cities, towns, and villages.
All cannabis taxes would be directed to the “New York State Cannabis Revenue Fund.” The revenue would cover the costs to administer and enforce the program.
After that, 40 percent of the remaining money would go to a community grants reinvestment fund, 40 percent to education, and 20 percent to drug treatment and public education programs.
The idea we are told is to help heal the communities that have been devastated by America’s war on drugs, which really has been just one iteration of America’s war on African-Americans.
That concept of healing is fraught with problems as gentrification has changed the faces of the communities that were once the communities that were turned upside down by the aggressive policing and the infusion of synthetic drugs aided by elements of the very said government.
So it follows that the people who live in the expensive brownstones in Harlem today are not the people who were devastated by the drug wars.
Black voters who are fooled into thinking that local Republicans are harmless must understand that in our county of dutchess, the county executive Marc Molinaro, president of the State County Executives Association, said instead of leaving it up to the state to administer and distribute those funds, more funding should be directed straight to counties.
It is safe to say that if Marc Molinaro had a vote in the state senate, he would have opposed the bill the same way that Sue Serino did.
My call to Serino’s office to hear directly from her why she opposed the bill was met with an automated message that directed me to leave a message or email her.
I did neither!
However, her website featured the following statement.
“At a time when we have all been told repeatedly to ‘follow the science,’ scientific and other concerns put forth by public health officials, law enforcement, and members of our school and business communities have been ignored so the state can profit off a bill that unfortunately remains dangerously flawed.
Unlike with alcohol, currently, no accurate roadside scientific test exists to detect marijuana in an impaired driver, making it incredibly difficult to deter impaired driving and even more difficult to hold those who drive while impaired accountable for any harm they may cause. A lack of available detection methods will also pose a number of health and safety challenges in the workplace — whether on a construction site, in a healthcare facility, or elsewhere. Most importantly, while this bill intends to legalize only adult-use recreational marijuana, I remain incredibly worried about the unintended consequences it will have on our kids.
I govern by listening, and I have spent significant time listening to those on both sides of this debate. While I understand and respect the points all have offered, [significant health and safety concerns] remain unaddressed in this particular bill. Therefore, I could not in good conscience support its passage at this time.”
Serino’s response is a classic Republican talking point. One that engages in a circular narrative that gives law enforcement support whenever the question of law-enforcement abuse and the need for restorative justice comes up. It is the very same faux narrative that created the Republican war on drugs in the first place. It is a shocking act of disrespect to the millions of African-Americans who have been incarcerated and institutionalized and killed due to the war on drugs over the decades that this war was first authorized as an assault on Black people.
Last year as the entire world registered outrage at the blatant murder of George Floyd by Minneopolic cops Derek Chauvin and others, Sue Serino was gloating on social media about the police groups that endorsed her.
I pointed out the insensitivity of the social media post in a pointed response.
In response, Serino again reiterated the same gibberish about being proud of law enforcement support without addressing the role the said law enforcement has played in oppressing segments of the population.
There should be no mistake about their intentions when they default to support of law enforcement or [significant health and safety concerns] when challenged on the harm law enforcement has wrought on people of color.
Supporting good police officers who do their jobs with professionalism and respect, and working to remove bad cops, and righting the wrongs they do are not mutually exclusive tasks, both are fundamentally necessary.
It has nothing to do with concerns for health and safety, but everything to do with securing blocs of cop vote, and currying favor with police unions.
Here in the county of Dutchess, the County Sheriff, the Judges, Police brass, County Political leadership, the city’s Mayor are all cut from the same Republican cloth.
A vote against The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act was a vote against restorative justice for African-Americans in New York state.
A Statement from Governor Cuomo before he signed the bill into law
A statement from Attorney General Letitia James.
Mike Beckles is a former Police Detective, businessman, freelance writer, black achiever honoree, and creator of the blog mikebeckles.com.