Did Coca-Cola’s ALEC involvement contribute to unjust black incarceration, and rape? If so, should a simple “So Long, ALEC!” suffice?
I am temporarily unbanning myself, because of the extraordinary collapse of support for ALEC, and because I’m afraid that activists will not seize the moment. However, I’ll make no further comments in this diary, and return to my creative efforts.
The following is a simple argument to make, even if slighty convoluted. But, I’ll start with an analogy.
Acme Barbeque Grill Company lobbies congress against regulating grills to require traps that contain burning cinders. Some people think this might help prevent the rare, but traumatic “burning cinder in eye” phenomenon. Partly because of such lobbying, bills regulating grills languish in Congress.
One day, a barbeque-er, equipped with an Acme barbecue, has a strong wind come through his backyard. Burning cinders are blown into the air, and, unnoticed by the barbeque-er, one lands on a pile of leaves in his neighbor’s backyard. The leaves ignite, then the house. A sleeping child inside the house gets burns over 80% of her body, before being rescued, and will suffer for life from the effects of such burns. Emotionally, even more than physically.
Question: Should Acme just say “Oops, sorry!” and ride off into the sunset?
I don’t want to take the time to look up references, nor to be more precise and articulate. So I’ll just go ahead and make quickly make the following argument, hoping that my recollections are approximately correct.
The drug criminalization laws, besides being stupid to begin with, are effectively racist. (I make no comment as to whether they were intended to be racist, though I believe that to be the case, sometimes.). This is particularly clear in the differing sentences between crack cocaine and powder cocaine – and, wouldn’t ya know it, the crack cocaine penalties are far worse, and for some strange reason, more available in black communities.
This disparity has been somewhat redressed by actions of the Obama administration, but only ‘halfway’. Go figure…
The young men losing what should have been the most vital and energetic parts of their lives, penned up in jails for non-violent drug convictions, are also highly at risk for rape. Nobody talks about this much, but if memory serves, I’ve heard Gary Null mention, on numerous occasions, that the odds for young men, under the age of 30, being raped in prison, is > 50%.
We now know that some of the corporate clowns pushing for “tough” (but idiotic) sentencing laws were ALEC-affiliated corporations which stood to gain from prison contracts. They profited, at the expense of young black men. Did I forget to mention that part of the price paid by some of these young black men was getting raped?
Coca-Cola was an ALEC affiliate.
Thus, even if Coca-Cola never sought to aid in pushing “tough”, over the top, drug sentencing laws, they are nonetheless partly responsible for getting them enacted.
Therefore, Coca-Cola is partly, even if completely unintentionally, responsible for ruining young black lives.
Of course, Coca-Cola is partly, even if completely unintentionally, responsible for also ruining young and old lives of non-blacks, but I am figuring that they are going to be more responsive to the charge of supporting a really damaging and ugly form of racism, which is why I am focusing on the fallout on blacks’ lives.
Does it make a lick of sense to let them off the hook with a mere “So sorry!”???
No, it does not.
My suggestion: demand that Coca-Cola devote 1% of their advertising budget to educating the public about the disparity in drug sentencing laws and the historical role played by ALEC in cooking up “tough” sentencing laws. This effort will continue until drug laws are at least color blind – which might take decades. If so, too bad for Coca Cola. They will somehow have to make do with an advertising budget 99% of what it would have been, otherwise.
If Coca-Cola refuses to play ball, then activists will organize boycotts of Coke and Coke-sponsored events and celebrities, where every effort will be made to educate the public about Coke’s involvement with ALEC, and their (at least) indirect contribution to ruining young black lives. Which included rape.
I am NOT suggesting that Coke be smeared, as having directly supported “tough” sentencing laws, nor as having directly created the conditions for the widespread rape of young black men.
There is a difference. Please get that straight in your mind. If you unjustly smear Coca-Cola, you risk a backlash that will defeat your purpose.
Also, be wary of elements of what Black Agenda Report calls the “black misleadership class”, who might just try to shake down Coca-Cola for cash disbursements to some organization. The goal should be to reverse the implementation of “tough” drug laws, and hopefully get pardons for non-violent drug offenders. Any pseudo-reform, Veal Pen type organization that would look to profit over this, and let the core problem fester, deserves a special place in hell.
A boycott of ALEC sponsors is being pushed at Progressive Radio Network, but I think such an effort has less potential for exposing the sheer ugliness of rule by the corporatocracy than my current suggestion. Please check the boycott out, but if anybody has connections to PRN, by all means forward them this judo-like suggestion.
Back to my self-banishment. “Discuss amongst yourselves.”