On January 8th, 1964, then-president Lyndon B. Johnson introduced a legislation unofficially given the name “The war on poverty.” The main purpose for the program was to rid the country of its poverty issue by providing new mothers with cash aid, however, provisions in the welfare laws offered incentives for those not wanting to get married and avoid the formation of the two-parent family. With this policy in place, the Melanated community suffered tremendously with the single household rate rising to an astonishing 73%. A deadly lack of self-discipline, coupled with a government that didn’t establish any punishment mechanisms for women who abused the system helped create decades of fatherless households nationwide.
The attack on the Melanated community continued with President Nixon’s “war on drugs” starting the trend of placing harsher sentencing on non-violent drug offenses. President Richard Nixon continued the propaganda, he increased the size and presence of federal drug control agencies and pushed through measures such as mandatory sentencing and no-knock warrants. A top-notch aide to President Nixon, John Ehrlichman later admitted: “The Nixon campaign in 1968 and the Nixon white house after that had two enemies: the anti-war left and black people. We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black people, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin and then criminalizing both heavily. We could disrupt their communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meeting’s and vilify them night after night on the evening news.
Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course, we did.” This type of behavior would open the door for the mass incarceration that would skyrocket under the Reagan administration. Once in office, he expanded the “war on drugs”. The number of people behind bars for non-violent drug law offenses increased from 50,000 in 1980 to over 400,000 by 1997. During the ’80s the public had a concern about illicit drugs due to the media’s portrayal of people being addicted to the smokable form of cocaine dubbed “crack”. Soon after Reagan began a highly-publicized anti-drug campaign, coining the slogan “just say no.”
This set the stage for the zero-tolerance policies implemented in the mid-to-late 1980s. With political hysteria in high gear, more laws were passed with draconian penalties attached. These types of manipulative practices have continued to control the political landscape, with each president changing the name but the target remains the same, Melanated people. All of this, in my opinion, has created what I call the “broken home effect”, with millions of melanated children not benefiting from a two-parent home. All too often, the men and women in these situations look at each other as the only problem, personal accountability can never be taken out of the equation, however, acknowledging the unseen hand that has orchestrated this madness is the first step to dismantling this system. This platform was designed to shed light on these situations through dialogue and the willingness to understand. Identifying how a broken home has affected you, be it positive or negative can go a long way in repairing not only you but our entire community.