(The Root) — Is there a link between perpetually high unemployment rates in many inner-city communities and the so-called war on drugs? David Simon, creator of gritty urban TV series such as The Wire, The Corner and Homicide: Life on the Street, believes so. Speaking on a panel convened Aug. 16 in Martha’s Vineyard by the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute (which is led by The Root‘s editor-in-chief, Henry Louis Gates Jr.), Simon suggested that America’s business elite seek to monetize the poor by making money off of their incarceration rather than investing in educating the poor so that they can get jobs.
“Now [America has] gone from, in my adult lifetime as a reporter, from not valuing the urban poor to actually giving them a very unique value,” said Simon, who spent years covering the criminal-justice system as a Baltimore Sun reporter. “Which is to say, since we don’t need them for work and we’re not including them in our social and economic compact, [economic interests ask] what can we do with all these extra, untrained, disconnected bodies? Well, we can monetize them. How do we do that? Fight a war on drugs.”
— Sheryl Huggins Salomon
Hear more of what Simon had to say in the video below, and read his additional comments in the article, “As Jobs Vanish, Where Are Blacks Left?”