The Evolution of Racial Caste


Racialization starts with Native Americans


Labeling Native Americans "savages" allows their removal to be less distasteful

Indentured Servitude was dominant means of cheap labor

1600 - 1675

white and black laborers united against a common enemy - the planter elite that oppressed and terrorized white and black alike

The Racial Bribe


After Bacon's Rebellion, planter elites systematically privilege whites over their African co-laborers. White settlers are given greater access to Native American lands; white servants allowed to police slaves; barriers put in place to avoid competition of free labor with slave labor.

Now, poor whites have a stake in maintaining the racial caste system.

Bacon's Rebellion, Jamestown VA


A revolution effort led by Virginia landowner, unifies poor laborers and slaves, black and white, to attack the planter elite.

This quickens efforts to convert to systemic enslavement of Africans - particularly non-English speaking Africans who were less prone to communicate and therefore unite with the white indentured servants.

Emancipation Proclamation


Slavery is disbanded but white supremacy endures. Convict laws and segregation instituted.



Convict laws overturned

13th Amendment - makes slavery illegal (except as punishment for crime)

Civil Rights Act of 1866 - full citizenship for freed slaves

14th Amendment - equal protection under the law

15th Amendment - right to vote regardless of race

KKK Acts - interference and violent infringement of right to vote a crime

Freedman's Bureau established

Public Education established in the South

15% Of all Southern elected officials are black


Compare to 0% in 1867

In 1980, fewer than 8% of Southern elected officials are African American

The "Redeemers"

1870 - 1874

Backlash against Reconstruction led by the KKK

vigilante and terrorist tactics used against Reconstructionist governments and local leaders

Federal Troops Withdraw in 1874

Funding withdrawn from Freedman's Bureau

Vagrancy and Convict laws reconstituted

Prisoners back into forced labor with stunning death rates

The Populists

1890 - 1896

Of the three "post-Redeemer" options, the Populist party was briefly the most successful, combining the support of white and black poor and working class people.

However, with jobs ever more scarce, the conservative Southern party convinces whites that the freed slaves are responsible for the lack of jobs.

Jim Crow Laws begin to take hold, giving poor whites 'permission to hate' their black counterparts.

Early Beginnings of Civil Rights Movement


Northern whites begin to suspect that Jim Crow laws need to be reformed. This attitude arises from a combination of factors:

Some desegregation cases south as Smith v. Allwright and McLauren v. Oklahoma - the Supreme Court deems segregation unconstitutional

In light of the horror at Hitler's treatment of German Jews, Americans become uncomfortable at the treatment of blacks in the South.

Brown v. Board of Education the culmination of this effort - but violent backlash in the South halted efforts at desegregation.

"Law and Order" Rhetoric Begins


Starts as opposition to the Civil Rights Movement in the South

Civil Rights Act


Voting Rights Act


The Poor People's Movement


After success on the desegregation front, The Civil Rights Movement turns its efforts to attacking poverty. Again, people of all races begin to come together to demand more economic equality.

Conservatives Define Poverty as Cultural

1968 - 1973

"Conservatives argue that poverty was not caused by structural factors related to race and class but rather by culture - particularly black culture"
The New Jim Crow, p. 44

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Shot

April 4, 1968

Nixon uses the phrase "War on Drugs"


Richardson v. Ramirez, 418 U.S. 24


US Supreme Court upholds the denial of felons' right to vote.

Reagan Wins the Presidency


Reagan's campaign relies largely on racially coded language in order to win over poor southern whites (historically Democrats)

FBI Antidrug Funding Increases from $8 million to $95 million

1980 - 1984

DEA Anti-Drug Funding Increases

1980 - 1991

$86 million - $1,026 million

At the same time, funding for education, prevention and treatment of drug abuse dramatically DECREASES

Department of Defense antidrug funding increases

1981 - 1991

$33 million to $1,042 million

Reagan Declares "War on Drugs"


At the time he declares this war, less than 2% of the population views drugs as the #1 issue facing the US

Crack hits the Streets


Crack Carries Drastically Higher Sentencing than Cocaine


Drug Sentencing Limits Soar


5 year minimum for simple possession without intention to sell - for 1st time offenders.

FBI Anti Drug Funding at $181 million


Drug Felons Prohibited from Recieving Public Assistance


Including (but not limited to)
food stamps
public housing
federal student financial aid (added in 1998)

Crack Sentencing Brought to same Rate as Cocaine