From Black Power to the New Jim Crow
The gains achieved by the Civil Rights movement are fond memories and are celebrated by holidays, memorials and pious speeches. Today, the U.S. has its first black president but while he’s attained political power many other African Americans are behind bars. The eternal war on drugs has resulted in the incarceration of many blacks. As law professor Michelle Alexander says, “Rather than rely on race, we use our criminal justice system to label people of color ‘criminals’ and then engage in all the Jim Crow practices we supposedly left behind:” such as discrimination in employment and housing, denial of food stamps, exclusion from jury service, and denial of the right to vote. The prison industrial complex is a profit-making machine dependent on more and more prisoners passing through its system. We’ve gone from the auction block to the cell block.
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is an assistant professor in the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. Her articles appear in The New York Times, CounterPunch, Jacobin and The Guardian. She is the author of From Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation.