In order to fully appreciate what Eric Holder has done this week (by changing the policies of the U.S. criminal justice system) involves a little perspective. For African Americans who have literally experienced centuries of social, housing, education, job and wage discrimination, the need to rely on government assistance has been greater. Welfare Reform and Drug Laws of the 1990’s increased the burdens on African American families because Racial Profiling has disproportionately affected this population. Historically, these laws and policy changes have denied (and still do in most states), those with a felony any public housing, education, welfare/medical benefits. So, you have a growing population of predominantly African American males cut out of support and also threatening their family assistance if they live in the home.
Hence, the further destruction of the family unit, where fathers are pushed onto the streets with no other choice than to repeat-offend and threaten communities. We have failed as a country with centuries of racism and what were well-meaning policies with destructive unintended consequences.
Ending the overt criminal justice disparities is just one step in a long line of steps and policy changes needed to start valuing the African American male in the home and society. We are all losing with the status quo so I am more than thrilled to see a shift in policies.
Of course, the Hispanic/Latino community has also experienced these challenges in past decades and this commentary does not intentionally leave them out. My point is to highlight the deeply entrenched history of African American policy discrimination that will not go away overnight and will not change for the better until we see where we came from first.