Today, I went to a lecture to hear Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow. She gave a very informative and (perhaps a little uncomfortable for some) enlightening discussion about the high number of black male incarceration in America today. I think it also important for us to look at how male incarceration affects black families, but particularly black students. Having a father present in the family is almost crucial and imperative to ensure success for a black student. Not to say that if that father is there, that the black student will automatically be successful, but it does increase the chances of success.
I think its safe to say that if we are to see changes in society, we have to look critically at issues of race, gender, and economic status and how that affects each of us. I will also strongly argue that we still live in a racist society that promotes domination of the rich culture and at the same time promoting the failures, deaths, and losses of families of color. That crap about living in a post-racial society is just that...crap. And I'm not the one to believe that racism doesn't exist, nor am I the one to believe that racism doesn't have a detrimental affect on black students in America.
I'm getting a little off topic.
But Ms. Alexander did an excellent job of providing details, facts, and perspectives about incarceration and how it affects the black communinities. Here are some of the statements that she came up with:
• Over 7 million people incarcerated in the country including physical jails, house arrest, etc
• The US has/is the worst most extreme incarceration population
• The prison system exemplifies neo-liberalism, racism, and capitalism policies at its finest
• The mirage of color blindness looks good but it is a distant reality; it is a false statement to think that we live in a post-racial society
• New racial undercaste exists in America; Obama won’t mention it though; Members of this undercaste exist largely invisible. This is the moral equivalent of Jim Crow
• We use the criminal justice system to label people of color as criminals. We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it
• Economists Magazine…how black incarcerated men affects the relationship with black women (bc they can’t get jobs and affects the economics of the black families)…in this way mass incarceration affects/destroys black families worse than slavery…In Chicago, 80% of black men have been incarcerated
• 300000 to 2 million incarcerated in the US; this country has the largest prison population in the world
• While crime rates have decreased, yet incarceration rates have soared (esp black incarceration rates)…what explains this explosion? The drug wars and the punitive actions….drug rates have increased by 1000% from 1985-2000…more people were incarcerated for drug reasons by far more than any other crimes
• People of color are no more likely to use/sell drugs than whites in this country, yet the number of blacks convicted of drug charges greatly exceeds that of whites.
• The term “the war on drugs” came about b/c poor southern whites were resentful of the gains of blacks (social demotion)…the term came about to appease them…bc actually the amount of drug users was less than 1% in America…this fear created political opportunities…this turned into a racial code to “get tough” on blacks to appease southern whites…a strategy that was devised.. “the problem was them..the blacks”…less than a year later (1983) crack began to hit the streets…propaganda was used to support and get people’s attention to know about crack and money began to go into banning the war on drugs. This was largely incorporated by the Clinton administration (bc democrats thought they could outperform repubs in banning the war on drugs) so that they could win the votes and support of those southern whites…federal funding increases to states and districts that has a certain number of drug arrests…police can also KEEP the cars, money, and drugs that are seized when these drug busts occur