Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently stood before the National Sheriffs’ Association and stated, “The office of sheriff is a critical part of the Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement. We must never erode this historic office.”
This statement, which was not a part of his original pre-written speech, is just the latest example of why Sessions has been accused of being a racist for decades.
To start, a name like Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is clearly forged in white southern nostalgia of the Confederacy, and this speaks negatively to his image to begin with. In his defense, he did not give himself this name. Naming children after the Confederate President Jefferson Davis and a well-known Confederate general P.G.T. Beauregard was not uncommon in the South in 1946, when Sessions was born.
Sessions is Alabama to the core. He was born and raised in Selma during the Civil Rights Movement, and went to college and law school in the state. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what side of the civil rights movement he was on during those times. Today, he is known for being a staunch conservative and a hardliner for “justice.”
Ironically, the greatest example of Sessions’ racism was when he prosecuted two Klan members for murdering a young black man. He infamously stated that he thought the Klan was “OK until I found out they smoked pot.”
He said it was a joke when this comment was one of many that prevented him from being confirmed by the U.S. Senate for a federal circuit judgeship under former U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s administration. Federal prosecutor J. Gerald Hebert testified before the Senate Committee saying Sessions called the ACLU and the NAACP “un-American” and “communist-inspired.” Hebert told the committee Sessions believed these two groups “forced civil rights down the throats of people.” Although Hebert revealed these things to the committee, he himself did not believe Sessions to be racist. What was his definition of the word?
Currently, it is Sessions’ actions more than his careless tongue showing his prejudice. Sessions is a lifelong marijuana opponent. The majority of Americans are in favor of legalizing the medicinal drug. In spite of this, Sessions recently
rescinded an Obama-era memo that assured the federal government would not go after marijuana use in states where it is legal.
Racial disparity in marijuana prosecution has long-been a big problem in America. The ACLU found there were 8.2 million marijuana arrests between 2001 and 2010. Despite equal usage rates among black and white Americans, black Americans are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana. Billions of taxpayer dollars continue to fund the disproportionate targeting of black people for marijuana use.
Frankly speaking, if Sessions is not racist, he is doing an awful job of proving otherwise. Enforcing marijuana laws cost Americans 3.6 billion dollars a year. That is a lot of money going to arrest primarily people of color. Our “Anglo-American” heritage of law enforcement is racist. Sessions’ previous actions and comments show this racist heritage might be exactly what he wants to preserve.
Justin Franklin is an 19-year-old political communication
freshman from Memphis, Tennessee.