The Birth of Street Crime
African American people tend to commit street crimes because they are living in poverty and were once slaves. In 1619, the first slave ships landed in the North American colony of Jamestown, Virginia. Slaves were people from Africa that was brought to work for their slave owners. Slaves were tortured, forced to live in impoverished communities, forced to work for free, and were deprived of the basic ability to learn. Slave owners had complete control over the slaves and they made it nearly impossible to survive. There has been a correlation between 1619, and present day. Although these tames are drastically different, there are many similarities between these times. Viewing the horrific timeline from 1619 to present day, there is a chain reaction producing street crime.
Slavery thrived for an excruciating 245 years. In 1776, the Founding Fathers of America created the Declaration of Independence, which would later free slaves. Slavery would then be a problem for African Americans for the next 89 years. The 13th Amendment was created later in the year of 1865, which freed slaves.
After slavery, African Americans worked for very little pay. African Americans could not makes sufficient money ironically, because the only way to make sufficient money was to own farms. They wasn’t able to own land, so they found themselves working in the same farms where they were once enslaved. Farmers were the driving force of their economy. Africans couldn’t own land because they were not considered citizens of the US. This is similar to problems we have today with wages and living conditions. According to the United Sates Census Bureau, in a chart of the median household income, the average African Americans household makes only $33,321. This is a little more than half of White household’s income. Furthermore, the average wages of African American ex-cons are documented to make $5.33, which is less than white ex-cons. Trying to survive in society with these wages is nearly impossible. Most ex-cons end up living in the same environment that lead to their arrest. Even though both ex-cons and ex-slavers are free, theirs living situations seems all too familiar.
During segregation, African Americans were not allowed to integrate into White communities therefor, Africans lived in impoverished communities. These communities were secluded away from white communities. This is similar to the way communities are structured in present day. The structure on today’s communities started when the America shifted from an agricultural economy to a factory driven economy in the 19th century. As the industrial age grew, and the agricultural age declined, people began to leave the farming life behind and move to cities and towns with factory jobs. The nation’s wage earnings began to come from people who were formally self-employed but now employed by major corporations. Blacks and Whites where living in segregated communities, but they were more often working in the same factories in their cities and towns. This increase in the industrial age also came to a decline at the fault of the great depression. In 1929-39, America along with many other countries suffered from the largest economic fall in history. This economic fall forced many companies to lay off workers, causing vast unemployment and hardships. After 1939, the economy recovered after the New Deal and World War II’s contribution to the industrial industry.
Whites began to leave the cities and move to suburban areas where blacks weren’t allowed. Public Housing policies were still preventing Blacks from taking most opportunities that were available to Whites. In a broadcast on “Fresh Air,” Richard Rothstein said that “the second policy, which was probably even more effective in segregating metropolitan areas, was the Federal Housing Administration, which financed mass production builders of subdivisions starting in the 30’s and then going on to the 40’s and 50’s in which those mass production builders, places like Levittown for example, and Nassau County in New York and in every metropolitan area in the country, the Federal Housing Administration gave builders like Levitt concessionary loans through banks because they guaranteed loans to lower interest rates for banks that the developers could use to build these subdivisions on the condition that no homes in those subdivisions be sold to African Americans.” This was to ensure that public housing would only be used to house people of the same race in which it was located (Richard Rothstein). This pushed Whites out of the public housing communities and trapped Blacks in. The overpopulation and low income of communities made poverty spread like a disease.
As poverty started to grow problems started to rise and street crime was born. After WWII, war veterans returned home to these overpopulated and impoverished communities with more problems to deal with. One of these problems was drug addiction. Drugs such as morphine and heroin was regularly used in wars as pain killers. According to an article on narconon.org, “morphine was the only thing that made the gunshot, amputation and recovery tolerable.” Many soldiers became addicted to the drug and even after the war was over they couldn’t shake the addiction. Heroin was crated first by boiling morphine at the end of the 19th century. According to the same article, “in 1898, the Bayer pharmaceutical company began an aggressive marketing campaign to sell its commercial preparation of heroin. Heroin was heavenly promoted as being non-addicting, and therefore an excellent treatment for morphine addiction. In 1906, the American Medical Association approved Heroin for general use and recommended that is be used in place of morphine.” Heroin flooded the bodies of the solders so they had to feed their addiction. Returning home and living in poverty prevented them from buying the drugs they needed. If someone needs money, but they are unemployed they will do anything to obtain the money. Committing crimes is the easiest way to make money living in interspersed communities. We as Americans have to figure out a way to undo all the wrongs done to African Americans in the past. It is easy for America to blame African Americans for what we go through in America, but it’s not our fault its America’s fault.
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