Apr 24 2012

Bill Clinton Was Incredibly Destructive for Black People…

I have refrained from writing this post for almost two years but I cannot hold back any longer. Bill Clinton is without a doubt my least favorite President of the last 40 years. You read that correctly. But, but, but, what about Ronald Reagan you might ask? What about George W. Bush you might protest? Well for me, the truth is that I expect Republicans to be detrimental to people of color’s prospects. They do not pretend to be interested in our survival.

Bill Clinton, on the other hand, has actively tried to ingratiate himself to black people by appropriating black culture. Think back to his appearance on Arsenio Hall, playing the Sax. Think back to his post-Presidency move to Harlem to locate his Clinton Foundation office there. Think back to the fact that we are incessantly told that Bill Clinton was the “first black” President. What a massive insult! People who speak this nonsense, say it without irony.

There are so many ways that the Clinton Presidency was toxic to black people in particular and people of color in general. I will periodically highlight some of his greatest hits against black people in the coming weeks. Today I want to focus on one piece of legislation that the U.S. Congress passed in 1994 which is still reverberating in 2012. The 1994 Omnibus Crime Bill (spearheaded by Joe Biden and Bill Clinton) cost $30 billion dollars and helped to accelerate the growth of the prison industrial complex in ways that we are only just beginning to understand. The bill’s provisions included:

1. $10.8 billion in federal matching funds to local governments to hire 100,000 new police officers over 5 years.
2. $10 billion for the construction of new federal prisons.
3. An expansion of the number of federal crimes to which the death penalty applied from two to fifty-eight (the bill also eliminated an existing statute that prohibited the execution of mentally incapacitated defendants).
4. A three strikes proposal that mandated life sentences for anyone convicted of three “violent” felonies.
5. A section that allowed children as young as thirteen to be tried as adults.
6. The creation of special courts able to deport noncitizens alleged to be “engaged in terrorist activity” on the basis of secret evidence.
7. Established guidelines for states to track sex offenders. Required states to track sex offenders by confirming their place of residence annually for ten years after their release into the community or quarterly for the rest of their lives if the sex offender was convicted of a violent sex crime. [This sex offender registry law has caused havoc in the legal system]

These are just a few of the greatest hits from the 1994 Crime Bill.

Progressives who are loudly complaining about President Obama’s record on civil liberties (which is abysmal) were overwhelmingly SILENT about Clinton’s dramatic expansion of the prison industrial complex. I remember that period of time clearly. I invite you to send me your own examples of the many ways that Bill Clinton’s presidency was destructive to people of color and I will happily post them here. I think that this is a period of history that many people either don’t know about or are willfully choosing to forget. It should NOT be forgotten since we are living with the consequences of that era today.

  • By Pam, April 24, 2012 @ 1:19 pm

    Didn’t he do away with federal parole? So, “lock em up, throw away the key” a la Bill Clinton, the first Black President.

    Remember, everything Bill Clinton did was to benefit Bill Clinton.

  • By Teb, April 25, 2012 @ 8:28 am

    The Clinton years were marked by so called “welfare reform” which did nothing to really move children, women or their families, forward. Poverty may have decreased but was probably due to the economy. Our failed education system was not effectively asked to step up to the plate. The improving and stable economy of that time lulled many of us into thinking real progress was being made for women and minorities. In retrospect this was definitely not the case. Education is key. Our children are not treated as if they can accomplish to a higher standard. If the expectation is not there it won’t happen. Instead there is an excuse, “oh, she/he/they aren’t ready for that” I have heard it so many times and it is wrong. The rich need to pay their fair share of taxes and we need teachers who are willing to teach creatively and school districts that are willing to fully fund the inside of the cla5ssroom. For example a middle grades science classroom (grades5-8) should have at very least a five thousand dollar materials and trips budget for the year. Other types of classes need less, but science uses consumables if taught properly and not just out of a book. Reading education needs to be taught as an intensified Hybrid of the Reading First program and teachers need to be told in no uncertain terms that it will be done that way. They can be trained in the summertime. That is what summer break is for. I was a teacher, and have not taught because of the anti-child atmosphere in all of the schools I have been in except for 3 private elementary schools. And one public school which had a fabulous kindergarten program in which 97 percent of the students learned to read (some children learn the next year in first grade).

Other Links to this Post

  1. Prison Culture » Bill Clinton Was Incredibly Destructive for Black … « childrensvoice — April 24, 2012 @ 12:53 pm