Saturday, August 23, 2008

Open letter to Barack Obama concerning his running mate selection

Dear Senator Obama,

I understand why you picked Senator Biden as your running mate, but I am troubled by it. I am deeply concerned by comments you made about him during the race for the nomination. At a debate in 2007, you stated that the Senator has been on the right side of racial issues. These comments indicate one of two things. Either you are not fully aware of his legislative history from the 1980s or you have overlooked it. I hope it is the former.

Senator Biden is the author of arguably the most detrimental law to blacks in the post Jim Crow era. I am referring to the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 which established the 100-1 disparity between powder and rock cocaine sentencing. The Senator recently reversed his position on the disparity, but that means little after 20 years of a policy that is primarily responsible for the prison population being 50% black. Today the incarceration rate for blacks is over 4500 per 100,000 and climbing. That is over 5 times higher than the peak incarceration rate during South African Apartheid.

During the forums held at Howard University, you and a number of other Democrats condemned mandatory minimums. Selecting the man who spearheaded that sentencing policy and believing that puts him on the right side of racial issues is disturbing.

I hope you will truly be the best advocate for blacks as you claim and maintain your opposition to this flawed policy.


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