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Disguised Discrimination Essay

1729 words - 7 pages

Disguised Discrimination
In Michelle Alexander’s speech on her book The New Jim Crow, she vividly describes the past forms of blatant oppression of minority groups, especially Latino, and even more so, African American men. Such political systems such as slavery and Jim Crow Laws, were discussed as government intended repression of African Americans. The War on Drugs is then blamed for unfairly targeting minorities, which results in staggering rates of Black and Hispanic arrests. She later relates the past direct forms of discrimination to today’s indirect forms, and informs her audience on how our present political system has a very similar effect to the Jim Crow laws. I feel she ...view middle of the document...

However in some states, as she mentioned, black men have been sent to prison twenty to fifty times more on drug charges, than white men. The source of this discrimination therefore must exist in individual citizens who are endowed with power to enforce the laws. These law enforcement agents, many of which have certain racial biases, cannot be punished for them. As Alexander clarified, the police, and most people in general, know better than to explicitly state their personal prejudices. And no matter how overwhelming the evidence, as regards to the ethnicity of those arrested, may seem to show that police officer is prejudice. Without a confession on the officers part that he or she acted out of prejudice, than case for racial discrimination cannot even be brought to the courts. Consequently the proportion of African American men with some sort of criminal record approaches 80% in some major U.S. cities Alexander reported. As a result they become ostracized, part of what she calls "a growing and permanent under caste." This mass incarceration of drug offenders has created a substantial and desperate need for the rapid production of prisons. This is what has taken place across America, and as a result, since the beginning of the “War on Drugs”, the prison population has more than quintupled into the millions, causing the United States to have the world’s largest inmate populace on the planet, dwarfing all other countries. The United States holds nearly 25% of the world prisoners, and as she also explained, 8 times more prisoners than that of Germany. Because of Alexander’s detailed discussion I now understand that this increase is largely and overwhelmingly due to drug offenders, the majority of whom are caught being African American. Alexander made another influential argument that If America forsook the mass production of prisons and used that money and effort to provide more jobs for its citizens and programs to produce better neighborhoods, those prisons would not be needed in the first place. She supported this argument by asserting studies that concluded those who are consistently unemployed are more likely to commit violent crimes and abuse drugs. She argues that instead of taking these individuals out of society by imprisoning them, much benefit would come to the nation by employing these multitudes. Alexander furthered this discourse by explaining a common argument that many propose. That argument being how the authorities need to get tough on drug users to end all of the violence that comes with drug trafficking and abuse, and if it just so happens that these drug offenders are African American, then so be it. While this argument does seem valid, if it proved true, then the United States would have among the lowest crime rates in the world do to its extremely high incarceration rates. However this is not true, the United States’ violent crime rates are generally very similar to other western countries where...

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