The government’s right to make rules in the name of combating racism is sacrosanct in the realm of race relations.  Unfortunately, and many times unconsciously, the very policies and practices enacted by the state to end racism actually ensnare minorities in a labyrinth of structural racism. With seemingly good intention, bogus government interventions create inescapable walled-off environments, crushing minority communities and closing off their opportunities.

A clear cut example of this phenomenon is the War on Drugs.  Regarded as a crusade against drugs, it has turned out to be one of the most ruthless policies that exist within our borders. There’s no question that policing strategies and sentencing requirements have resulted in a very high incarceration rate for young black men, and created a multitude of financial and social complications for their families. The Drug War overwhelmingly affects the African American community; according to Human Rights Watch report:

In every year from 1980 to 2007, blacks were arrested nationwide on drug charges at rates relative to population that were 2.8 to 5.5 times higher than white arrest rates.

And once arrested and imprisoned, those people may find it hard to get a job and get housing and they may be required to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees and fines.

But the even more astounding part is that white and black Americans use drugs at similar rates, and the chances of either race selling drugs is practically identical.  White youth are actually hospitalized for drugs at three times the rate of black youth. As I’ve mentioned before, the war on drugs has also led to the increasingly paramilitary growth of our police departments.  In brutal fashion, this trend has also affected minority communities at alarming rates.  According to a report recently done by the ACLU:

Of the deployments in which race was known, there was a significant racial difference in whether the deployment was conducted in a drug case. Of 102 the deployments that impacted minorities (Black and Latino), 68 percent were for drug searches, whereas of deployments that impacted white people, only 38 percent were for drug searches. Of the deployments that impacted a mix of white people and minorities, 73 percent were for drug investigations.

The results of the Drug War are totally lop-sided: the African American community has felt the pain of these policies more than anyone else.

But it is not just the drug war which creates structural racism—economic policies are also to blame.

Often, minimum wage is viewed as an economic protector of low income communities, which is so far from the truth. If present day progressives understood the history of the policy, which was originally intended to price minority workers out of jobs, they would pluck their eyes out.  Take the Davis Bacon Act , which was actually created with the intention of preventing contractors using “cheap colored labor” from outbidding contractors using white labor. Or look at South Africa during apartheid when white labor unions urged that a minimum-wage law be applied to all races as a way to keep black workers from stealing jobs from white unionized workers by working for less than the union-negotiated pay.  Even today, poor workers in South Africa rally against government leaders who enforce labor laws that price them out of the labor market. Economists even note that artificially inflating wages has been shown to lead to job cuts, which mostly affects the lowest-skilled, young minority workers who are in desperate need of the low skill job experience as a means of climbing the economic ladder.

Intention is the only difference between the modern-day minimum wage supporter and the minimum wage supporters of the past.  While today’s supporter intends to help, the historical supporter hoped to crush the minority competition. The outcome is still the same. Inexperienced workers are priced out of jobs according to economists.

Human beings — regardless of race — thrive when they have more liberty.  There’s no doubt in my mind that African Americans would have thrived at incredible rates if it weren’t for the government’s endless and restrictive policies. Imagine a world where the Jim Crow laws which segregated them intentionally or the Drug War which penalized them unfairly were never implemented. Imagine a world where government didn’t impose skyscraper
size barriers on employment. Imagine if people actually had the autonomy to live in a free manner — we can only dream of the prosperity and justice that would have taken place in such an environment.