Monday, April 12, 2010

The New Jim Crow - by Michelle Alexander

* There are more African Americans under correctional control today -- in prison or jail, on probation or parole -- than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.


* As of 2004, more African American men were disenfranchised (due to felon disenfranchisement laws) than in 1870, the year the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified prohibiting laws that explicitly deny the right to vote on the basis of race.


* If you take into account prisoners, a large majority of African American men in some urban areas, like Chicago, have been labeled felons for life. These men are part of a growing undercaste -- not class, caste -- a group of people who are permanently relegated, by law, to an inferior second-class status. They can be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries, and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education, and public benefits -- much as their grandparents and great-grandparents once were during the Jim Crow era.

Scary stuff, isn't it?

During my morning mandatory treadmill time, I watched the following C-Span interview with Michelle Alexander.

She's the author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in The Age Of Colorblindness. 

The video is around 45 minutes long, and I'm posting it here for future reference.  Lord have mercy, what an indictment against our government.   



I see victims of the system every day.  They come in applying for jobs.  They've been unemployed for years.  Decades, in some cases. 
Why?  Because when they were 19 years old, they got busted for marijuana possession. 
They have a permanent mark on their record that leaves most employers unwilling to take a chance on hiring them. 
Combine that with idiotic, racist, minimum wage legislation, and Ta-Da !    You've created permanent Food For The Machine. 

Let me explain. 

We have more prisoners than any other nation - 25% of the world's total, despite having only 6% of the world's population.  According to the Michelle Alexander interview, if we were to go back to the 1970's-era incarceration rates, we would have to release 4 out of 5 prisoners currently doing time.

We have so many prisoners that we're having to privatize the cages that we're using to lock up black kids.  Ordinarily, Big Gubmint likes to run everything, but this particular growth industry is beyond them.  Marijuana prohibition creates tens of thousands of jobs, public and private. 

The prison lobby advocates building more and more cages.  (Here's a great link on the prison lobby.  Here's a more specific one on how it works in Texas.)

When the prisoners are released, many of them have to pay for part of the cost of their incarceration. 
They often have to pay for their own parole officers, counseling sessions, etc. and after talking to ex-cons for about 10 years, I'm of the opinion that most of these counselors couldn't counsel a 3-year-old to go the potty. 

If they fail to make these payments, they're either locked up again, or their paychecks are garnished.  After all, the private prison system has to be paid, right?  (Some of these private prison groups are traded on Wall Street.)

Now that you have all that info, can you explain the difference between the current system and slavery?
Do you understand why the prison lobby, in its public and private form, fights so hard to preserve the system? 

Go here to read about John Kerry, John Edwards, and John Dean's "youthful indiscretions" with marijuana use.  Go here to read about Al Gore smoking weed.  Then add George W. Bush, who affirms that he's smoked marijuana, and Barack Obama, who admits to all of the above, plus cocaine. 

What would've become of Barack Obama if he'd been locked in a cage at age 19? 

Marijuana use isn't held against presidential candidates.  So why the hell are we using it to justify creating slaves for the government? 

13 comments:

TarrantLibertyGuy said...

Wow. Great post!

Omnibus Driver said...

Might I suggest adding this book to your reading list? It's an eye-popper, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

Tavis had Tom on for a great inteview.
http://www.pbs.org/kcet/tavissmiley/archive/201003/20100316_burrell.html

Sidney said...

I really think it's admirable that a white person like Michelle Alexander is taking up the cause of black prisoners.

Anonymous said...

Michelle is black

Anonymous said...

After hearing Michele Alexander speaking on discrimination, I wholly support her thinking. This lovely lady hits it right on what is happening, not only in the US of A but all over the world, and not through the commoner but right from the top down. - Frederick Warner, New Plymouth, New Zealand

Anonymous said...

She is condemming the whole white race, not just the "government". Biased and unfair, from a slanted, ehtic point of view. Sadly she is using her forum to put whites against blacks.

Anonymous said...

Take on your fear of challenging your beliefs and.you'd see that what you said is untrue. Believe things because they are true...don't assume things are true because you believe them.

Another white guy

Anonymous said...

to the prior commentators, to which you guys posted on April 02 and July 18 2012...your ignorance speaks louder than your words. The truth of it all is that you FEAR the truth...there are many blacks in our society who have made more than an effort to do what is right, not White, and are persecuted for that alone from those who hate, claim that they have many black friends and really don't, and who have a real issue with color one's skin...and it doesn't have to be blacks that they have an issue with, so there, here's some more truth to believe in, okay!

Anonymous said...

to the prior commentators, to which you guys posted on April 02 and July 18 2012...your ignorance speaks louder than your words. The truth of it all is that you FEAR the truth...there are many blacks in our society who have made more than an effort to do what is right, not White, and are persecuted for that alone from those who hate, claim that they have many black friends and really don't, and who have a real issue with color one's skin...and it doesn't have to be blacks that they have an issue with, so there, here's some more truth to believe in, okay!

TheTruthUFear said...

to the prior commentators, to which you guys posted on April 02 and July 18 2012...your ignorance speaks louder than your words. The truth of it all is that you FEAR the truth...there are many blacks in our society who have made more than an effort to do what is right, not White, and are persecuted for that alone from those who hate, claim that they have many black friends and really don't, and who have a real issue with color one's skin...and it doesn't have to be blacks that they have an issue with, so there, here's some more truth to believe in, okay!

DontFEARTheRealTruth said...

to the prior commentators, to which you guys posted on April 02 and July 18 2012...your ignorance/delusions speaks louder than your words. The truth of it all is that you FEAR the truth...there are many blacks in our society who have made more than an effort to do what is right, not White, and are persecuted for that alone from those who hate, claim that they have many black friends and really don't, and who have a real issue with color one's skin...and it doesn't have to be blacks that they have an issue with, so there, here's some more truth to believe in, okay!

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous April 2,
If you've bothered to read Ms. Alexanders book you'll note that she's not condemning the white race but indeed the white elites alone. The elites don't care about the rest of white community, but use them and their natural human frailty to pit competitively against blacks. This distraction keeps the white elite rich and powerful.
I suspect the points in her book make some whites uncomfortable because it forces them to look inward at attitudes they might not want to admit to. Don't feel guilty, you've been programmed....but don't perpetuate either. Confront these feelings, if they are there, and stay in the light!!