VIDEO: Russell Simmons and Dr. Ben Chavis on Occupy the DreamJanuary 17, 2012
Yesterday, across the country, events surrounding the Occupy the Dream movement were held around the country at Federal Reserve buildings. We had the chance to attend the one in LA, where we met up with David DeGraw and Shepard Fairey. (You can check out those photos here). We also had two of the main architects of yesterday’s Occupy the Dream events on the show – Russell Simmons and Dr. Ben Chavis. Here’s the segment:
Benjamin Chavis is CEO and co-chair of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network. Russell Simmons, chairman of Rush Communications and founder of globalgrind.com, co-authored our Huffington Post blog, Occupy The Dream: The Mathematics Of Racism.
Here’s a bit about what we talked about in the segment:
“The nation honored the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. yesterday. On a day of reflection about racism in America and our progress as a society, there is a new math of racism that is becoming the norm in America. The Greedy Bastards have re-branded racism by calling it the war on drugs — making it both acceptable and profitable.
While the concerns of racism from the 1950′s and 60′s have improved, highlighted by the election of Barack Obama as president of the United States, there is a less-than-obvious war still being waged on the racial front that is being cloaked by the war on drugs.
Looking into the numbers, the war on drugs is a racist war. Blacks are ten times as likely as whites to be incarcerated for drug crimes. There are more blacks in prison or on probation or parole now than were enslaved before the Civil War.
Remember, this is racism Greedy Bastards style. There’s a profit to be made from the war on drugs and keeping prisoners incarcerated. Law enforcement agencies are allowed by federal law to use seized drug money to supplement their budgets. Taxpayers spent $74 billion dollars on prisons in 2007, the biggest increase going to for-profit prison companies.
These companies have massive lobbying and political wings to keep the war on drugs alive; their for-profit system is maintained and staffed by prisoners being used as cheap labor. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars in political donations to federal campaigns and millions to local politicians, not to mention millions in lobbying dollars.
Our generation’s civil rights march is about getting money out of politics. It is increasingly clear that the influence of money has crept into so many more areas of our system than many would care to admit. Policies and laws continue to be shaped by the amount of money given to campaigns for reelection; systems that are crippling to our national well-being survive through the protection of money to politicians.
The war on drugs is just one example of money’s corrupting influence; we must get money out of politics before we can hope to see the change that Dr. King spoke of continue and progress.”