Jack Turner also hit this earlier — I just wanted to add a little more behind-the-scenes color to the tale.
Those of you at Netroots Nation this year heard me ask the Speaker of the House this question on Jul 24:
Racial profiling and police brutality remain a fact of life for black and brown people in the U.S. We’re both from the Bay Area so I know you’re familiar with how the Oscar Grant killing and trial rocked the Bay Area. In Congress there are 2 measures to address unequal treatment under the law. I’m going to summarize a lot of folks who asked about these 2 Acts: the Fair Sentencing Act, which would eliminate the 100 to 1 drug quantity ratio sentencing structure between crack and powder cocaine and the End Racial Profiling Act which is sponsored by Rep John Conyers which would eliminate law enforcement practices singling our people for heightened scrutiny based on their race, ethnicity or national origin. So netizens like Myth on Jack and Jill Politics want to know: when will Congress act to make our streets safer for everyone.
She answered (quick summary from @wonkroom on twitter):
We hope to take up fair sentencing … hopefully this week. This is something shocking to you, it’s already passed Senate!
I kinda thought that might be some nice words, a pat on the head. It sounded good and the Speaker definitely seemed like she got it, you know. I think law enforcement discrimination is a tough issue for a lot of white folks to wrap their heads around because — it just doesn’t happen to them that often in contrast to the near universality for African-Americans. But within a few days, the Speaker herself tweeted at me direct-like on Jul 28:
I was like: OMG…a public shoutout from the Speaker herself. Or whoever tweets for her. Whichever – I’m cool either way. That’s too steezy. And then I re-tweeted it naturally! And today a friend over at the White House made sure I saw this tweet which I also re-tweeted to my tweeps:
@whitehouse: On tap: Signing Fair Sentencing Act reducing crack vs cocaine discrepancy
Folks have been celebrating on Facebook, twitter, blogs etc. Hey, the law only reduces the discrepency from 100-1 to 18-1. Still, that’s progress and will mean a lot to our community which has been unfairly penalized through discriminatory law. And it was passed unanimously, which is amazing. The photo above is the President signing the bill today! The caption says:
President Barack Obama signs the Fair Sentencing Act in the Oval Office, Aug. 3, 2010. Joining the President are, from left, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Attorney General Eric Holder, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, of Ill., Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
The NAACP has launched a Thank Congress action for this which is actually deserved IMHO. If you’d like to give your Member of Congress a “What? What?!” — visit: http://action.naacp.org/ThankYouCongress
Cuz believe it or not, the powers that be are actually listening to you. Dig!
Cheryl Contee aka "Jill Tubman", Baratunde Thurston aka "Jack Turner", rikyrah, Leutisha Stills aka "The Christian Progressive Liberal", B-Serious, Casey Gane-McCalla, Jonathan Pitts-Wiley aka "Marcus Toussaint," Fredric Mitchell
Special Contributors: James Rucker, Rinku Sen, Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Adam Luna, Kamala Harris
Technical Contributor: Brandon Sheats