Behind Bars

Race and Law in the USA

By Kevin Cooper

We who oppose Arizona’s new immigration/race law policy have a real and historic reason to do so. This policy is not new to non-white peoples within this country.

Nothing in this country is really “new,” Most “new” laws have a real life history in this country, especially whenever it comes to land, wealth, water, freedom, and yes, citizenship, to name a few.

These supposedly new laws have been on the shelf, and have been dusted off and given a new name and are being reused by the same type of people who first brought them to light and life and used them back in the day.

Back in the 18th and 19th centuries there were only two types of Black people in this country. There were Free Blacks, and Slaves. Both had to carry papers with them so that if they were stopped by certain white men, their status could be determined.

Yet many a Black man and Black woman who were supposedly free found themselves arrested, even though they had papers stating their status as Free Black people. Some found themselves on the auction block and sold into slavery. Why? Because their skin was just as Black as the people who were enslaved. There were certain white men who could not tell the difference between the black skin of a free person and the black skin of a slave. To that certain type of white person, “Black is Black!”

Now, in the 21st century, Latinos are facing this same kind of thing, but under a different name. Certain white people cannot, or will not, differentiate the Brown skin of “legal Latinos from that of “illegal Latinos.” To them, “Brown is Brown!”

Having papers that prove U.S. citizenship doesn’t mean that those Latinos will be protected from illegal and inhumane treatment by the same type of people in the 21st century that denied Free Blacks, enslaved Blacks, the Indigenous peoples to whom this land once belonged, Asians, and all other poor people throughout the tortured history of this country!

Race and the Law do not make sense most of the time, not in the past, nor here in the present, and not in the future. But it’s not designed to make sense. It’s designed to keep certain groups of people down where the powers that be have designated them to be within society. Or, as with the cases of slaves and undocumented immigrants, outside of that society!

Kevin Cooper is an innocent man sentenced to death, but continuing to fight for justice from his death row cell in San Quentin prison in California. His Address is:

Kevin Cooper
C.65304 4EB82
San Quentin State Prison
San Quentin, CA 94964