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Reaction Paper # 1: The Convict Lease System And Its Parallels To The New Jim Crow

699 words - 3 pages

Today, many contend that Americans are currently living in a post-racial society, in which slavery, discrimination, prejudice, and an overall racial hierarchy are obsolete. They assume that with the election of the first African American President, Barack Obama, a greater number and acceptance of interracial marriages, affirmative action, and less overt signs of discrimination, America is essentially in an “Age of Colorblindness” (Alexander, 2012). On the contrary, authors Douglas Blackmon and Michelle Alexander, argue that there is more to American history than what meets the eye.
Published in 2008, Slavery By Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II written by Douglas Blackmon is a non-fiction that takes a closer look at the convict lease system, in which forced labor of African American men and women continued even after slavery was made illegal in the United States. In both this work and his documentary film of the same name, Blackmon maintains that slavery did not end with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment and continued well after the American Civil War up until World War II in the form of the convict lease system. One reason I believe Blackmon entitled his book the way he did is because the convict lease system really was another way in which African Americans were marginalized in society. Just like the aim of slavery was to extract labor from those who were seen as inferior to support the power of the majority, the convict lease system’s aim was also to implement forced labor to support US corporations owned by primarily White Southerners. Additionally, Blackmon insists that even though the convict lease system was not as long or as pervasive as slavery in terms of the amount of people who were affected by it, it was still slavery. He (2008) explains that slavery is:
a system in which armies of free men, guilty of no crimes and entitled by law to freedom, were compelled to labor without compensation, were repeatedly bought and sold, and were forced to do the bidding of white masters through the regular application of extraordinary physical coercion. (p. 4)...

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