Dear Charlamagne tha God,
We hope this letter finds you well and in good spirits. We are Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker, the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates for the Green Party of the US. We watched your interviews with former Vice President Joe Biden and with Joy Reid, and we understand that there are questions that you still want answered around the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana, economic justice for Black people now and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, and also about reparations for Black people. We have answers to those questions.
With regard to the legalization, decriminalization and legal adult use of marijuana, our campaign knows that it is past time to end the failed War on Drugs. It is past time to repair the communities most ravaged by destructive drug policies, which are overwhelmingly Black and Brown. To this end, we must implement policies concerning marijuana that make reparations for past harm and offer a just way forward. Essential elements of this policy include:
- the repeal of criminal laws stemming from marijuana offenses
- the removal of marijuana from the Schedule of Controlled Substances Act so that it can be used medically
- Release and expungement the records of people convicted of nonviolent marijuana offenses
- Allowing people to grow marijuana without any taxation
- Taxing of marijuana like any other commodity without a special marijuana tax
- Preventing the liquor, tobacco, pharmaceutical and Big Agricultural industries and corporations like Monsanto from engaging in the marijuana market
- Preventing marijuana oligopolies with caps on limits of market share
In order to rectify the abuses perpetrated on especially Black and Brown communities by the unfair application of drug laws, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission must be created to gather information on the damage that has been done and to report on the impact of mass arrests and incarceration for marijuana offenses. This commission will make recommendations on how to repair the damage to these communities after hearing from the people most directly targeted by law enforcement. As a necessary first step in reparations for the harm these communities have sustained, people who were arrested or convicted of marijuana offenses should be given preference to work in legal marijuana commerce.
Revenues generated from marijuana taxes would be used to uplift the communities that have been hit the hardest by the War on Drugs. These funds would not be used for law enforcement, but instead for grants to entrepreneurs of color and aiding businesses and the restoration of impacted communities.
Regarding reparations to African Americans, it is our campaign’s position that ending racial oppression requires both race-specific remedies and also universal economic rights that are guaranteed by the government in a race-conscious way. We must strengthen and enforce antidiscrimination laws in the employment, education, housing, and the political, criminal justice and immigration systems. Affirmative action must be taken to reverse the growing race and class resegregation of housing and schools. We must enact HR 40/S.1083, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act to consider appropriate remedies for the impact of slavery and subsequent racial discrimination for living African Americans. We emphasize that we see this bill as a program to study and develop reparations proposals.
We must empower racially oppressed communities to practice self-determination through collective community ownership of public schools, housing, police and businesses. The empowering of racially oppressed communities will keep them from being subject to racism from employers, bankers, landlords, real estate agents, union business agents, lawyers, judges, police, and assorted professional-managerial gatekeepers, including politicians. Empowerment means democratic community control so that the masses of racially oppressed people benefit, not merely a more “representative” professional-managerial class that simply replaces the white professional-managerial class that soaks up the funding in salaries, grants and contracts. Our campaign’s goal is real equality, not “diversity” within the unequal hierarchies of capitalism.
Community control is particularly pressing with respect to policing and the consistently high annual number of police killings of Black and Brown people while overall crime rates have been declining for three decades. Racially-profiled over-policing is the normal practice of many sheriffs and police departments across the nation. It has been that way for centuries. It is a policy with deadly consequences for too many people living in those communities. Those killed by police are disproportionately Black and Brown and low-income. Few police who patrol these communities live in them. They are more of an occupying army than a police force that protects and serves those communities. The Hawkins/Walker Campaign calls for Black community control of the police in their communities. Community control means elected neighborhood review boards with real investigative, personnel, and policy-making powers in their communities and a citywide elected police commission to set citywide police department policies and determine disciplinary sanctions for police misconduct.
We must enact an Economic Bill of Rights for economic security for all in a race-conscious way. Government would guarantee all people the rights of a living-wage job, an income above poverty, decent housing, comprehensive health care, a good education, a secure retirement, and freedom from discrimination. It is important to note that these aims were what the socialist leaders of the Black Freedom Movement- A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin and Dr. Martin Luther King and others- demanded as they moved “from civil rights to human rights”. Under our Green Economy Reconstruction Program, we would build green manufacturing, organic agriculture and rural reconstruction, an interstate high-speed internet system, infrastructure reconstruction, a new Civilian Conservation Corps, zero-waste recycling, peace conversion and an interstate renewable energy system to get people to work rebuilding and restoring this country’s vital infrastructure and damaged ecosystems. Much of the federal funding for this economic reconstruction would go directly to local communities, particularly communities of color, so that governors or mayors cannot corruptly divert funding to political donors and cronies at the expense of the most distressed communities.
It is very important to us that Black and Brown people are aware that there are viable options outside of the Democrat/Republican duopoly and that we are offering solutions to the conditions oppressed people endure in this country. We feel that for far too long, the Democratic Party in particular has taken the support of Black and Brown people for granted without offering anything substantial to these communities. It is time we raise our expectations and demand more. The Green Party is positioning itself to be a welcoming and thriving space for people of color who want to advance human dignity and the health of the planet we all call home. We would be happy to discuss this with you at length, and answer any additional questions you may have. And we’d like you to know that the Vice Presidential candidate for our campaign is indeed a Black woman.
With warmest regards,
Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker
Candidates for President and Vice President,
Green Party of the United States