Houston Forward Times

16 April 2014 Written by  Keith ‘Comrade Malik’ Washington, Capt. of Information

Social Control and Political Chicanery

 In the state of Texas, there are so-called community leaders who dwell in urban areas yet fail to grasp the concept of social control as it relates to gentrification of our neighborhoods or how it contributes to mass incarceration. Social control is systematic oppression of an oppressed nation or minority group. It manifests itself in many ways. In Texas, there are many policies, laws and programs geared toward sabotaging a particular oppressed nation’s path to self-determination, such as the crack law, stop and frisk, voter ID laws, ICE and DHS agents targeting undocumented workers, etc. These are initiated by an elite ruling class that has no interest in the success of urban dwellers. The goal is to manipulate disadvantaged minorities to keep "undesirables" out of the path of "progress." The question is, who determines when "progress" is made, and who benefits from such "progress"?

Search & Destroy in Houston Inner-City Schools

Houston, TX is the 4th largest city in the US and the classroom to penitentiary pipeline is running smoothly. Houston Independent School District Superintendent Terry Grier has implemented programs that promote the destruction of schools that educate inner-city youth. Few community leaders or activists have pinpointed the wrong that is being done to our communities. Grier is cooperating with developers who have their eyes on inner-city real estate, a hot commodity as Houston’s population has exploded in the last five years. Schools are a big part of any community, and if one wants to change a community’s demographic, schools are a good place to start.

A case in point is Ryan Middle School, located in Houston’s predominantly New Afrikan Third Ward. Ryan was targeted for closure by Grier and HISD last year. One of the reasons given was under-enrollment; however, there were programmatic changes that could have made Ryan a more attractive school for New Afrikan families to send their children to. But the plan was not to serve that community better. It was to create a different school that would attract another type of community – more affluent, and less Black and Brown! The new Ryan was given millions by donors who wanted to establish a magnet focused on a science or medicine career path, with Latin, Neuro-science and Biology being some of the core courses. Ryan reopened earlier this year. Only 11% of the students live in the Third Ward!

Inner-city schools, not only in Houston but across the US, are being turned into militarized police zones. Black and Brown young men and women are being targeted. Laws have turned frivolous infractions into criminal offenses. This introduces our children to the criminal injustice system and often removes them from the educational environment entirely. It’s hard to ignore the disproportionate number of Black and Brown human beings housed in the TX Dept. of Criminal Injustice as a result.

As urban real estate becomes more valuable, large corporations along with legislators have a vested interest in seeing ‘minority’ city dwellers carted off to prisons by super-militarized police forces. This social control destroys our political and economic power and tears the moral fabric of our families and society as a whole. It’s imperative that we educate our leaders about the deleterious effect this social control has on Amerikkkan society.

Chicanery is defined as the use of underhanded actions to achieve an end; see trickery. This is a main tactic used by law enforcement and law-makers in their blatant attacks on our communities. Political chicanery is connected to social control, as the following example will illustrate.

In 2009, the US Dept. of Justice ended an investigation of the overcrowded Harris County Jail in Houston. The DOJ laid out recommendations for reducing overcrowding. Five years later, few have been implemented. Furthermore, jail officials recently requested expansion of the facility to accommodate an increase in prisoners! The county spends $59 a day to house 2500 mentally-ill prisoners at an annual cost of $54 million. Pretrial, Harris County bond schedules allow rich people to make bail, and force poor people to languish in jail awaiting trial, increasing their chance of conviction. Most poor people in Harris County are Black and Brown.

When a Federal investigation of a local agency is conducted, and you do the exact opposite of what they recommend, that’s a violation of the public trust. When you trick the public into spending hard-earned tax dollars to attack the most vulnerable members of society and steer large numbers of Black and Brown men and women to jail, that’s political chicanery.

Recently, there have been articles in corporate newspapers highlighting the need for TX Dept. of Criminal Justice to cut its solitary confinement population. But there’s no mention of the abuse and even murder of prisoners on TX Death Row and numerous Ad-Seg units. In 2013, SB 2013, authored by Sen. John Carona (R-Dallas), was passed, requiring the Legislative Oversight Committee to "appoint an independent party to review the use of administrative segregation, also known as solitary confinement, in state juvenile and adult facilities." No money has been allocated for this much needed study. Larance Coleman, policy director for the TX Senate Criminal Justice Committee said: "The oversight committee is not funded or active." This is chicanery.

TX has the second largest ad-seg population in the US. A quarter to a third of the people in solitary are mentally ill. TDCJ continues to cover up heinous acts of abuse and answers to nobody. There is no realistic commitment to change this culture of abuse. To top it off, on March 4, a Tea Party-backed Dallas businessman unseated incumbent Sen. Carona, who at least proposed reform of the barbaric TX solitary confinement policy. The public is blinded and lied to.

At a recent Conservative Political Action Conference, TX Gov. Rick Perry declared: "Giving people a second chance is really important. The idea that we lock people up, throw them away forever, never give them a chance at redemption, isn’t what America’s about." These flowery words are lies, to manipulate would-be supporters as Perry slithers his way back into the 2016 presidential campaign. When politicians mislead, misinform, and lie to the public, this is a form of political chicanery that has been perfected here in TX.

I’ve read Michelle Alexander’s best-selling "New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color-blindness." I’ve wondered if she was sarcastic in using the term color-blind. The human beings victimized the most in the schools, communities, and prisons of Texas by covert racists like Rick Perry and his heir apparent Attorney General Gregg Abbott are people of color! Racism and classism are alive and well in the state of Texas.

Dare to Struggle – Dare to Win! All Power to the People!

Keith H. (Comrade Malik) Washington TDC # 1487958

Wynne Unit • 810 FM 2821 • Huntsville TX 77349