From the auction block to the cell block there is a trajectory from slavery to Jim Crow to the Drug War. The latter has resulted in mass jailings characterized by deep racial disparities. About one-third of young black men are likely to go to jail. The criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control. Millions of people, primarily poor people of color, have been swept into the nation’s prisons and then relegated to a permanent second-class status in which they are stripped of the basic civil and human rights supposedly won in the civil rights movement. The numbers are numbing. In all, 2.3 million are behind bars and another 4.8 million are on probation and parole. The more people locked up, the more profits for the Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private prison owner and operator.
This event was presented by the Lannan Foundation.
Michelle Alexander is a professor of law at Ohio State University and holds a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. Formerly the director of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Project in Northern California, she served as a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun. She is the author of the bestseller The New Jim Crow.
This is an issue I find so compelling. I was in grad school, becoming a school psychologist, at Cal in the late 80s, and I will assure you that there is a forum in which criminality is discussed: rap. As Too Short from Oakland rapped about Reagan, “What are you doing in the White House, if you’re not selling cocaine?” But let me also say we haven’t just been asleep while the revolution of incarceration has occurred – look at Gary Webb’s suicide after the San Jose Mercury News backed away from his reporting on Contras and cocaine. This has been so dark, and involved so much intention and huge criminality. I agree it will take a social movement to bring us back-I’d like to see a re-enfranchisement movement.
Rosalia Triana –
Fantastic ~ a clear assessment of the true and immediate problem; an entire generation ~ possibly several generations ~ of a certain portion of the American population being warehoused to keep them from joining the job market or getting an education. Michelle Alexander has the facts AND the passion to describe this situation so that it can actually be heard, rather than ignored. Thank you.
Berhane Russom –
My name is Berhane Russom. I lived in Canada for over thirty years. “I am black” according to the racial profiling given to me by white masters just like cows or dogs. In general, I assume, Canada is not as hellish for blacks as you described in states. My imagination was that blacks have progressed exponentially in states. I see them in sports, music dominating. A friend of mine was gloating about Atlanta Airport totally run by Blacks where it is a rare here in Canada to see even a courier let alone in offices at the airport. few years ago.
But about incarceration, although I am not sure about the figure, blacks in Canada are severely curtailed to work with their potential especially in offices or government. It is godly assigned to white folks. Blacks owns no business at all and poor. The consequences are devastating. We need to wake up the society. Other society like Indians, Chinese, they totally use them as purchasers with nothing in return but looking down . That frustrates me because I see it every day. As other communities, blacks should get together to protect their interest. However, it is mind boggling task.
Could you please give a speech in here for get together of all kind black stripes?.
We need a rescue, I feel sometimes we are endangered species.
I love you with a mountain of respect, Give us inspiration that you are inundated with.
llyn de danaan –
This was a wakeup call for me…..I’ve been asleep for a while. Michelle put all the pieces together/they fit “nicely” with the punitive atmosphere in this country re: immigration and women’s bodies. Thanks, Michelle. I’ll be following you.
john hartwick –
We need to reverse this.
Winston Dunkley –
Its about time someone call out this racist assed country for what it really is. What this woman is talking about is something that I have known and said for a long time. She should have mentioned that the KKK is running the racist criminal justice system and that is why we have the problems that we are facing the this country
Len Hockley –
A mind shifting analysis of the “new” reality we are living with respect to the black community and a warning about the present direction of immigration laws.