Facing the Truth: Blake Strode Considers the 1994 Crime Bill and Calls Us to Confront Racism in Policymaking

Blake Strode (’15), Executive Director of ArchCity Defenders, contributed an article to the Riverfront Times discussing the racist underpinnings and impact of the 1994 crime bill resulting in increased incarceration rates in poor and Black communities (“Black Apologists for 1994 Crime Bill Assuage White Guilt,” Nov. 24). “[T]his single piece of legislation is among the most devastating examples of racist policy in the past 40 years. . . . Comforting as it may be to believe that the crime bill was not so bad, and all of its proponents well-meaning and incapable of anticipating its disparate racial impact, it is a delusion. The bill was as much a reflection of the racial, and racist, politics of its time as the Fugitive Slave Act, the Black Codes, and the whites-only GI Bill were of their respective times. We should know the historical context for all of these, but we should excuse and sanitize none. To do so only serves to perpetuate the very culture of anti-Blackness that birthed these policies in the first place.”