It’s so simple, it’s almost insulting to call it a conspiracy, but here’s the nuts and bolts of the unofficial Republican agenda as it relates to Black people (and just about everything else): profit.
Pure, clean, American capitalism. Find a commodity, exploit its resources, and make a dollar from it.
What makes it worse it that not only do they make their motives undeniably clear, but that we are complicit in our own servitude — sort of a modern-day peonage.
Let’s just run through a quick example. Let’s say you’re a young Black man, possibly a teenager. Because you’ve spent the early part of your education in sub-standard schools, the state legislature institutes school choice — in the form of private, charter, or public vouchers.
What they’ve also done, while you weren’t looking, was install their influential friends as members of the school board or other decision-making positions, then steer those decision-makers to choose educational management companies run by their fat cat contributors.
As a result, their cronies get fat state contracts, the legislators themselves get rewarded with higher contributions, and everyone involved makes a ton of money. And what about you and your fellow students? Is your educational life about to improve?
Maybe, and maybe not. The point is: no one cares. Whether those struggling public schools ever get turned around, or whether the kids’ chances at a better life actually increase is secondary. No, strike that. It’s irrelevant. What matters is that the fat cats are kept happy and the campaign coffers swell with gold. If some kid happens to benefit somehow, good. If not, so what?
Now, after you and your buddies drop out of school, and find your employment opportunities limited — you’re going to have choices to make. You can continue to struggle and scrape by on nothing while hoping for the best, or you can join that gang up the block and make money selling drugs.
Times are hard, and the reality being what it is, there’s a fair chance you’ll eventually yield to temptation and do whatever it takes to make a buck.
Which is exactly the choice those same puppet masters are hoping you’ll make.
Because they know that sooner or later, if you stay in the street life long enough, you’re going to be caught, and go to prison. And that’s where your real profit-making ability as a commodity begins.
Again, while you weren’t looking, state legislators gave millions of taxpayer dollars to one of the companies who manage for-profit prisons. For an in-depth look at how those prison management companies turn young Black men into incarcerated moneymakers, check out Tribune crime reporter Larry Miller’s piece elsewhere in this issue.
Those companies promise lawmakers that they can run state prisons better, and less expensively, so legislators are happy to sign on the dotted line, and run back to their constituencies to brag about their fiscal conservatism.
Meanwhile, what about the prisoners? Are conditions improved? Are there better programs? Can we expect a drop in the recidivism rate? Again, same answer as the school scenario — who cares?
By the way, as part of the contract between your state and the for-profit prison management company, the state agrees to keep the prison at better than 90 percent capacity. That’s right, the more uneducated Black people they can lock up, and for longer sentences, the more money there is to be made.
So now you realize that as a young Black man, as far as the powers that be are concerned, you’re little more than a commodity, like pork or soybean futures. Your destiny is preordained, and as long as you accept your role as an uneducated future inmate, no one in power is going to stop you from dragging yourself, and your community, down to despair.
Want to strike back? Want to take control of your own destiny? Want to stick it to “the man” and foil his evil plans?
Stay in school. No matter how sub-standard the curriculum or how inexperienced the teachers, stay in school. Get the best grades you can, and graduate. Learn to communicate effectively. Every young man who doesn’t enter the system is a failure for those who make a profit from that system, and takes a dollar out of their greedy pockets — a dollar that is far better served by staying in your community.
Because you’re facing a conspiracy of silent complicity, your best response may be a revolution of quiet strength.
Daryl Gale is the Philadelphia Tribune's city editor.