The Black codes: framework for today’s laws

MSR Editorial

By Jessica Wright

Guest Commentator


Conclusion of a two-part editorial


In this succinct article I will embosom the semantics of the black code in the 21st century we continue to adhere to, the flagrant rules and regulations that recur in an attempt to further attenuate Blacks. [From part-one, published in last week’s issue]

Black children who were orphaned or their parents were destitute were handed over to the state, who in turn handed these children over to plantation owners. This is now called child protection.

The black codes did nothing more than give free Blacks the opportunity to become slaves under contract, which were illegal to break. The only alternative was imprisonment and then being retired to their former plantation with a sentence of hard labor. To be whipped before imprisonment was without question.

Freedom for us has always had its limits. Blacks still don’t have legal standing in a court of law and you’re doomed if you’re not legally savvy. We are constantly set up for failure with parole or probation while at the mercy of a county worker with a large care load and little patience.

My criminal background has been a barrier in many aspects of obtaining six-figure careers, housing and other programs. Another post-era black code: felons living hardships with black codes recurring in today’s society masked under different tittles. Our demand for equality is still a fight we have not won.

We should not be content with “how far we have come.” Many of our own people are as destitute as we all were in the 1800s.

Although many of our people are quite successful in corporate America, with fancy cars and buying homes, that does not dispel the Dred Scott decision of 1857 that declares no Black, free or a slave is a U.S. citizen.

What happened to our Fredrick Douglass or Nat Turner and our Huey Newton? Where are our Harriet Tubmans or Assata Shakus and our Angela Davises? I would like to live to see Blacks become conscious of who they still are, revive the days of the Negro nation, Blacks who are proud and embracing their Blackness.

Unlawful assembly is the greatest obstacle that we face as a race when our right to congregate as a group was deemed illegal without a written law. Our natural instinct to cohere was extinguished our separation began with the arrival of the first slave ship. “It only takes one voice to start a movement.” I hope to see history repeat itself for the benefit of our people.

The laws that we are to conform to in this era are nothing more than a ruse to implement the black codes hiding behind the guise of freedom as the system persists to attaint minority groups. The laws of today are a simitude of the black codes of the 1800s known formerly as the slave codes.


Jessica Wright is an inmate of Shakopee Correctional Facility.