The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In The Age Of Colorblindness

1028 words - 5 pages

The New Jim Crow
Michelle Alexander wrote a book called "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness." The original Jim Crow was a racial caste system that segregated whites from blacks, where whites were privileged and viewed as the chosen ones while blacks were taught to be minority and used as servants between 1877 and the 1960s. The Jim Crow system kept whites superior to blacks with laws created to keep whites favored. It was a legal way to prevent African Americans from getting an equal education, from voting; it was a system of "Separate but Equal". In 1964 the Civil Rights Act was passed to outlaw discrimination due to ones skin color. Although this act was passed we still continue to live in a society where discrimination is quite relevant but systemized. Through Michelle Alexander's book we can understand her argument that there is a new form of legal discrimination although laws state that discriminating an individual because of their race is illegal. Michelle explains that there is a current mass incarceration among black men in the United States. The use of, possession of, or selling drugs is illegal but it has been systematically created that laws make it impossible to. She claims that the criminal justice system uses the War on Drugs as a way to discriminate and repress the black man.
The labeling perspective comes into play with Michelle's claim because African American men have been labeled to be the race that's attached to deviant acts. Because black men are attached to the deviant act of drugs, the criminal justice system created laws which make it where there is a mandatory minimum of time that has to be served for the smallest amount of drugs. Once he serves time in a correctional facility he is now placed in an even lower social class than he was in before he went in. Once he has a felony, the individual is forever labeled deviant. He or she looses their right to vote, doesn't have many options of employment and carry a status that they cannot escape.

The House We Live In
The film "The House I Live" directed by Eugene Jarecki I found was a very interesting documentary. In Michelle Alexander's book the New Jim Crow she discusses our issue with mass incarceration but I felt this film gave viewers a great visual on what exactly the war on drugs entails. The documentary states that the war on drugs honestly had nothing to do with drugs, it was simply just another way to create control over minority groups. Because slavery was abolished law enforcement needed a way to have power over blacks; they couldn't use their race as a reason so they figured they could use the use of drugs to single them out.
In the film there was a young girl named Shanequa who was interviewed, she sold and used drugs as a way of surviving. She explains to the audience that she has a...

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