Incarceration Nation

Roots of Modern Day History Concerning the Death Penalty

By Kevin Cooper

Human Rights activist and attorney Mr. Bryan Stevenson stated these words in January 2019. These words must be thought about after being read because they, in my humble opinion, are so very important in truly understanding the truth of the Death Penalty in America.

Mr. Stevenson said: “The great evil of American slavery wasn’t involuntary servitude: it was the ideology of white supremacy, in which people persuaded themselves that Black people aren’t fully human.”

It was then, and still is now this white supremacist ideology that made it so very easy not only to enslave Black people, but to torture and lynch them in all the many different ways that they were. These lynchings are the forefather of this countries modern day Death Penalty system.

Whenever one group of people sees and treats another group of people as not fully human, it gives that group of people the mindset that they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, to that person or group of people who they see as non-human. Even today in 20l9 this mindset, this ideology is still in effect in the way that police treat and shoot and murder unarmed Black and Brown people, especially men, for any reason or no reason at all.

Those cops, mostly white, don’t see we Black and Brown people as fully human, nor do they see our humanity. Not just them, but Judges, prosecutors and juries who sentence Black, Brown and all poor people to the sentence of death in disproportional numbers; speaking of Black men, especially when they are convicted, rightly or wrongly, of murdering white people.

Today, in a country where African Americans make up more than 40 percent of the Death Row population, but only 13.3 percent of the U.S. population; and in the state of California the numbers are even worse. Black men are only 6.2 percent of the U.S. population and still make up around 40 percent of the death row population. Understanding this is important to understanding that racism still reigns today as it did yesterday, in these years as it did in yesteryears.

For the penalty of death in this country to be brought to a end, there needs to be a truthful discussion on the merits of what the system of Capital Punishment really is, and it’s my hope that each person who reads this will start this most needed discussion with someone else. Including any talk about reparations.