Tag Archives: Justice System
Michelle Alexander is a law professor and former lawyer who has written the very popular book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” Alexander believes that due to the targeted mass incarceration of people of color, we are now living in a “New Jim Crow.” Alexander explains that because so many young black men have been through the prison system, they are legally being discriminated against in employment, housing, education, public benefits, and jury service, just as their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents once were under slavery and Jim Crow laws. Alexander describes the black community as being in a “caste” system, helpless to further their status as long as this “New Jim Crow” system is in place. Her solution is to build a “major social movement” to dismantle the “caste” system. Alexander however, is wrong in this strangely worded, hyperbolic, and confused book.
On March 30th colorlines.com posted an article titled “Michelle Alexander: More Black Men in Prison Than Were Enslaved in 1850.” The article represents a very common belief by racialists about the American justice system: essentially that it is severely racist. The article states: “It’s a heartbreaking, but often understated, reality that America’s criminal justice system imprisons black folks at astonishingly high rates.” It certainly hasn’t been understated in this article, with direct comparisons to Jim Crow laws, and a vague comparison to slavery. It is heartbreaking, but what is the implication? What exactly are we meant to be heartbroken about? That so many blacks commit crimes? That we have unfair laws? Or is it that only racial discrimination could be the cause? While this is probably the most important question, it is typically just treated as a given that racism must be the primary cause. With the type of language that is used throughout the article, and by racialists in general, it is as if the police are imprisoning completely innocent men.
The first problem with racialists is that their conclusions are factually untrue. Most people don’t make their decisions based on race unconsciously or otherwise. Most opposition to President Obama isn’t due to racism as they claim, nor was Hurricane Katrina large scale “ethnic cleansing”, as Tim Wise has written. Disparities among racial groups in education, housing, wealth, employment, health, and the justice system largely can’t be explained by discrimination and racism (all of this will be argued for in great detail).