National Geographic. Racist.

After years of coverage that failed to address people of color, National Geographic decided to take a tough looks at its coverage in the past prior to publishing their April issue which focused on issues of race.  After enlisting the help of a University of Virginia professor who specializes in African studies it was confirmed that for years the publication was inherently racist in its written content, photos and choice of coverage. What was found was that until the 1970s National Geographic ignored people of color rarely acknowledging them beyond laborers. In an attempt to make amends for their flawed past the April issue of National Geographic focuses on exploring race and how it separates and unites us.


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First Round NFL Draft Pick is a Racist?

After a year of racial controversy in the NFL with the national anthem protests, a new incident has risen. Last Wednesday on the eve of the NFL draft Yahoo sports unearthed tweets from the projected number one overall pick, Josh Allen’s past. In high school he posted racially insensitive and offensive tweets toward African Americans and other minority groups. Phrases such as “white is right,” were used. The interesting thing is that some think a team that had a later draft pick leaked the tweets so that Allen would drop and they could take him. The Browns who had the first and fourth overall pick chose to pass on Allen, the top ranked quarterback in the draft with both picks and took Baker Mayfield first overall. Allen was still on the board for the seventh pick which is when the Bills decided to make a move and trade picks with the Buccaneers to get Allen. While he was still drafted in the first round the tweets definitely hurt his draft stock. Now the question is how will his new Bills teammates, specifically his African American teammates react to his presence as he is expected to be a starter and even a face for the organization. A team leader for the Bills, Lorenzo Alexander said that Allen would need to address the tweets but didn’t want to condemn him for something he said as a teenager. Alexander said he is going to extend Grace to Allen and give him the chance to prove he is a good guy; however, Alexander said some of his teammates may not be so forgiving.

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Racial Bias in Drug Arrests & Effects

Racial Bias in Drug Arrests & Effects

Peyton O’Laughlin

On April 27, 2018, the city of Seattle filed a motion with the Seattle Municipal Court to vacate convictions and dismiss charges for marijuana possession. The motion is only set to assist those who were prosecuted by the city of Seattle between the years of 1997 to 2010 but, if approved, would change the record of about 540 citizens.

This short article made me think about what social media has been yelling for the past few years, “If weed becomes legal in a state, then all those who were imprisoned for possession of marijuana should receive freedom.” I’m paraphrasing, but I see a post that is similar to that every week. There is no argument to be had about this subject. If a state legalizes the recreational use of marijuana then those individuals that were imprisoned, solely for the possession or use of marijuana, should be freed.

Let’s look at some number (following statistics are from DrugPolicy.Org):

  • The number of arrests in 2016 in the U.S. for drug law violation reached 1,572,579 (84% of these arrests that were for possession only: 1,249,025).
  • Number of people arrested for a marijuana law violation in 2016: 653,249 (89% of those charged with marijuana law violations who were arrested for possession only: 574,641)

Over half a million individuals were arrested for only possessing some amount of marijuana. These individuals, if charged deserve freedom, if legalization occurs. These numbers are the result of the war on drugs and mass incarceration.

Drug Sentencing Disparities according to

  • African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately 32% of the US
    population, but they comprised 56% of all incarcerated people in 2015.
  • In the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 17 million whites and 4 million African Americans reported having used an illicit drug within the last month.
  • African Americans and whites use drugs at similar rates, but the imprisonment rate of African Americans for drug charges is almost 6 times that of whites.
  • African Americans represent 12.5% of illicit drug users, but 29% of those arrested for drug offenses and 33% of those incarcerated in state facilities for drug offenses.

The numbers don’t lie. African Americans are more likely to be arrested for possession/use even though African Americans and whites use drugs at a similar rate. These facts should come as no surprise, but it’s always good to look at the numbers and realize that discrimination is still largely a threat to the lives of people of color and white privilege is far from gone.

To wrap up this piece, I want to look at some other statistics that are presented from

  • A criminal record can reduce the likelihood of a callback or job offer by nearly 50 percent. The negative impact of a criminal record is twice as large for African American applicants.
  • Infectious diseases are highly concentrated in corrections facilities: 15% of jail inmates and 22% of prisoners – compared to 5% of the general population – reported ever having tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and C, HIV/AIDS, or other STDs.
  • In 2012 alone, the United States spent nearly $81 billion on corrections.
  • Spending on prisons and jails has increased at triple the rate of spending on Pre‐K‐12 public education in the last thirty years.

Not only are black citizens more likely to be imprisoned than white for drug possession, if marijuana is legalized and these individuals are freed through legislation then they are less likely to acquire a job and they have been in proximity to a large concentration to infectious diseases.



EndPlay. “Seattle Files Motion to Vacate Marijuana Possession Convictions.” KIRO, 27 Apr. 2018,

“Drug War Statistics.” Drug Policy

“Criminal Justice Fact Sheet.”

Artwork of the Civil Rights Movement

I initially wanted to write this blog post commending and analyzing the intensely vivid imagery apparent in Anne Moody’s memoir, Coming of Age in Mississippi. So, I Googled “artwork during the Civil Rights Movement” and began researching the many other forms of art that were created to commemorate the severe hardships faced by black people.

As I have never researched artwork during the Civil Rights Movement, this was an exciting and perfect time to begin. As I originally hypothesized, artwork created during the CRM was a means by which artists could convey their own interpretation of the tragic events that occurred at the time. Whether through sculpture, painting, clay, or several other forms, every piece of art had its own story and told its own tragedy or truth. Similarly, most works of art were radical representations aimed to provoke conversation, thought, and action amongst the art’s viewers.

Tying this back to Moody’s memoir, the original inspiration for this blog post came when I was reading about her experiences sitting in at Woolworth’s. The descriptions of blood running from mouths, kicking against heads with hard-soled shoes, being dragged on the floor by the hair, and so much more made me cringe (pg. 288-289, ch. 22). Moody’s memoir, too, is only writing, not to say that I discredit the power of this writing at all. However, the disturbing impression that visual artwork can have on someone, especially an outsider, is astounding. Even more astounding is the power that visual art can possess when written words are already incredibly moving. In summery of the very brief points I have made here, the graphic artwork of the Civil Rights Movement sparked debate and sadness within all viewers, which is something that words can only begin to accomplish.

  1. The Power of Imagery in Advancing Civil Rights
  2. Artists of the Civil Rights Movement: A Retrospective


Meek Mill Release and Mass Incarceration

Tuesday afternoon, after five months of incarceration, Meek Mill was finally released. The popular rapper had been held since late November as a result of a failed drug test and violating the travel restrictions of his probation. Mill had violated his probation several times and Judge Genece E. Brinkley, who had overseen Mill’s probation over the years, was clearly fed up with the rapper’s antics and sentenced him to 2-4 years in prison. Immediately, there was outrage among Meek’s associates and passionate fans. After months of silence along with protests, and unrest, Mill was finally released Tuesday and immediately made his presence felt with an appearance at the Philadelphia 76’ersplayoff game; where fans showed heavy support for Philadelphia native.

Although Meek’s release shows the power of the people in the face of injustice, it also highlights a much larger issue in America. Mass incarceration, especially that of African Americans, is a result of the flawed American criminal justice system. After his release, Meek tweeted, “I understand that many people of color across the country don’t have that luxury and I plan to use my platform to shine a light on those issues.” As a result of his release, he has the chance to make a huge impact on an issue that is talked about enough. The corruptedness of the prison system in America is obvious and when taking a close look at mandatory minimums, probation violations, and a multitude of other issues. The possibilities of Meek’s opportunity is endless. He could back bail funds, and team up with organizations like Black Lives Matter to spearhead campaigns to fund the release of black men and women in prisons across America. He could start his own social campaign and make an impact within the city of Philadelphia. He could make a documentary or write a book, and give outsiders a first-hand look at the flaws in our prison system and the struggles that one must go through to see the light of day again as a free man or woman. All things considered, Meek must carefully think about the steps he is going to take to make an impact on the lives of African Americans in the present and for the future.

Meek Mill And Mass Incarceration: How Rapper Can Work To Help The Movement