By Marissa Johnson
As late as in 1970, the government advocated putting black people in internment camps like the ones Japanese-Americans had been placed in during World War Two. During the Reagan era, FEMA director Louis Giuffrada said in a thesis to round up black people and intern them. This was explicitly stated, not with code words.
This isn’t the first news of the government trying to intern black people. The King Alfred Plan, for example, was one such plot. However, the government was able to deny it had ever happened because its origins are murky. Nobody in particular is responsible for the plan. Since its verity couldn’t be ascertained, the government could shirk responsibility.
However, with the thesis is a solid piece of evidence proving what thought in America was like during the Reagan administration. Giuffrada justifies putting black people in concentration camps by saying there had been an “epidemic of confrontations in which outbreaks of bitter racial violence have brought death and destruction.”
Giuffrada is referring to the race riots. The thesis goes on to argue that the Black Panthers were an “extremely militant” group and that white vigilante groups were fighting back without making an effort to determine which people were militant and which people weren’t.
So, why, was the solution to round up black people and put them away? Why didn’t they solve the issue black people were fighting for which was equality and better opportunities in life? Instead, it seemed easier to round up black people. The thesis tried to say if they didn’t round up black people there would be anarchy and that the American government was in jeopardy. And if white vigilantes were such an issue, as they must be in the minority, why not simply prosecute them as a deterrent to future vigilante action by other whites?
A parallel can be drawn between demonizing the Japanese-American population in the media during World War 2 to mobilize public opinion in favor of placing them in concentration camps to current events. Some people argue that the image of the black American in being demonized in the media. With terms like “black thugs,” “black on black crime,” and “violent blacks” in addition to the latest outrage and riots over white police killings of unarmed black men, perhaps it may not be a stretch to think that the same thought that could have resulted in black concentration camps may not be so far over the horizon.