The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

by July 3, 2017

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness The New Jim Crow is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement. Since its publication in 2010, the book has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for more than a year; been dubbed the “secular bible of a new social movement” by numerous commentators, including Cornel West; and has led to consciousness-raising efforts in universities, churches, community centers, re-entry centers, and prisons nationwide. The New Jim Crow tells a truth our nation has been reluctant to face.

As the United States celebrates its “triumph over race” with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of black men in major urban areas are under correctional control or saddled with criminal records for life. Jim Crow laws were wiped off the books decades ago, but today an extraordinary percentage of the African American community is warehoused in prisons or trapped in a parallel social universe, denied basic civil and human rights—including the right to vote; the right to serve on juries; and the right to be free of legal discrimination in employment, housing, access to education and public benefits. Today, it is no longer socially permissible to use race explicitly as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. Yet as civil-rights-lawyer-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander demonstrates, it is perfectly legal to discriminate against convicted criminals in nearly all the ways in which it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once labeled a felon, even for a minor drug crime, the old forms of discrimination are suddenly legal again. In her words, “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”

Alexander shows that, by targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness.

The New Jim Crow challenges the civil rights community—and all of us—to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.

 

About the Author

Courtesy of Zocalo Public Square

Michelle Alexander is a highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer, advocate, and legal scholar. In recent years, she has taught at a number of universities, including Stanford Law School, where she was an associate professor of law and directed the Civil Rights Clinics. In 2005, she won a Soros Justice Fellowship, which supported the writing of The New Jim Crow, and that same year she accepted a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University. Since its first publication,The New Jim Crow has received rave reviews and has been featured in national radio and television media outlets, including MSNBC, NPR, Bill Moyers Journal, Tavis Smiley, C-SPAN, and Washington Journal, among others. In March, the book won the 2011 NAACP Image Award for best nonfiction.

Prior to entering academia, Alexander served as the director of the Racial Justice Project for the ACLU of Northern California, where she coordinated the Project’s media advocacy, grassroots organizing, coalition building, and litigation. The Project’s priority areas were educational equity and criminal justice reform, and it was during those years at the ACLU that she began to awaken to the reality that our nation’s criminal justice system functions more like a caste system than a system of crime prevention or control. She became passionate about exposing and challenging racial bias in the criminal justice system, ultimately launching and leading a major campaign against racial profiling by law enforcement known as the “DWB Campaign” or “Driving While Black or Brown Campaign.”

In addition to her nonprofit advocacy experience, Alexander has worked as a litigator at private law firms including Saperstein, Goldstein, Demchak & Baller, in Oakland, California, where she specialized in plaintiff-side class-action lawsuits alleging race and gender discrimination.

Alexander is a graduate of Stanford Law School and Vanderbilt University. Following law school, she clerked for Justice Harry A. Blackmun on the U.S. Supreme Court and for Chief Judge Abner Mikva on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She currently devotes much of her time to freelance writing; public speaking; consulting with advocacy organizations committed to ending mass incarceration; and, most important, raising her three young children—the most challenging and rewarding job of all.

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  1. #1 Afi G. Osakwe 24 September, 2017, 13:25

    A modified transcription of the video:

    Mrs. Alexander’s analysis is one of the most probing and factual accounts of white supremacy and its impact on black, brown, and under-served communities depicting current realities of the Black Experience. She uses its historical underpinning in the United States while exposing the willful intent of government to systematically keep black and brown people subservience designed to maximize opportunities for whites based upon white skin privilege.

    While doing this, she provides data, policy, and narrative that she admits she was oblivious to, which clearly shows that Jim Crowism has returned even though there is the pretense of a “color blind” society at work. She also admits that she was blind-sided by this fact even though she thought she was working to help those who had been impacted by it.

    How so? It wasn’t until she began to seriously listen to what was being said by the victims of it that she was stunned by a consciousness of the creation of a permanent underclass caste system by a white Southern Strategy where both Republicans and Democrats raised the specter of a “War On Drugs” to incarcerate millions of black and brown people (particularly males0 and effectively disenfranchise and permanently keep them unemployed.

    She paints a devastating picture of what occurred and what we face as a nation. She also provides solutions. After reading the review and listening to the video, I suggest you evaluate the efficacy of her recommendations and bring others into the conversation as well.

    Peter Grear is to be highly commended for creating a platform where consciousness can be raised through re-education and the use of understanding history in its proper context as correct knowledge to move us as human beings to another level. As Mrs. Alexander correctly pronounces: This is a human rights issue, not a civil rights one.

    CONSIDERATIONS:

    She quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. who noted three very important aspects about the issue of race in the United States and what must be done:

    I. MLK Analysis

    “I don’t see how we will ever solve the problem of race confronting our nation until:

    (1) There is an honest confrontation with it,

    (2) A willing search for the truth, and

    (3) A willingness to admit the truth when we discover it”

    II. Alexander used the MLK observation to seriously address the aforementioned MLK observations in the video by:

    (1) “Tell(ing) the truth, the whole truth about Race in America today,”

    (2) Stating that it is “A truth that many Americans will deny just as they were eager to deny the truth about slavery and Jim Crow, and…

    (3) Proving the truth.

    The truth, as fact, raises questions and provides solutions for our consideration:

    1. Who was POTUS at the time of the publication of her book and speech captured on video?

    2. In what city was Attorney Alexander speaking and of what political significance is it to her study?

    3. Seventy percent of all African Americans in the Chicago area held blue collar factory jobs in 1970. By 1987 the percentage had dropped to what? Why?

    4. What conditions did this sudden socioeconomic condition cause within those communities and to whom was it most devastating?

    5. What role did the Gun Control Debate contribute to negligence of the real causes of increased violence and the homicide rate in Chicago (a mere example of the economic collapse that was occurring across the country in major urban areas)?

    6. What new system has emerged although it is barely mentioned in the media?

    7. Why are violence and homicide spiraling out of control in communities defined by race and class? In other words, why are some cities war zones and others not?

    8. What were the actual causes that were being neglected? What was the impact?

    9. In what ways could the US Government have responded to address this crisis (small depression) in large urban areas?

    10. In view of the fact that the crisis was due in part to the transition from an industrial based economy to a service based economy, how did the US Government respond instead?

    11. What was the response of the US Government to this sudden shift?

    12. As a society we stopped the War on Poverty and created the War on Drugs? Why?

    13. At precisely the time there was a backlash against the Civil Rights Movement, American society

    ISSUE:

    The Gun Control Debate has never been about the number of guns, but the number of good schools, jobs, and educational opportunities. A deliberate choice has been made. Rather than build good schools, provide jobs, and assist those in need due to white supremacist legislation and de facto practices to increase joblessness in the black community, decisions were made to build high-tech prisons as the new industry for channeling blacks back into a new slavery/Jim Crow era of both free and perpetual subsistence level labor. Mrs. Alexander cites the book When Work Disappears, and provides some of his stat by William Julius Wilson, and cites some of his statistics concerning the the central problem in central city ghettos is the disappearance of work and the consequences of that disappearance for both social and cultural life.

    Mrs. Alexander interprets data that indicates men who are chronically jobless are more likely to be violent and that communities plagued by exceedingly high levels of joblessness are more likely to be violent.

    HISTORY:

    A shift occurred in late 50s, 60s into the early 70s where jobs disappeared. Factories were located in urban areas near segregated black communities for easy access to cheap black labor.

    FACTS:

    An example: In 1970 in Chicago more than 70% of all African Americans located in the Chicago area held blue collar factory jobs.

    ISSUE:

    Almost overnight, those jobs vanished:

    By 1987, the industrial employment of black men had plummeted to 28% due to De-industrialization, globalization, technological advancement, factories closing down, and jobs moving overseas. Hundreds of thousands of people (overwhelmingly black men) suddenly found themselves jobless, trapped in racially segregated jobless communities while economic collapse occurred in urban areas across the country. (Rural areas were not without the maladies of an agrarian history of endemic poverty. Living within the more overt white supremacist system of entrenched segregationist policies and inherited white terrorism, blacks had fled North.)

    POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS NOT IMPLEMENTED:

    1. The US could have responded to this crisis (little depression) in large urban areas with an outpouring of care, compassion and concern.

    2. The government could have responded with bailout packages, economic stimulus programs, job training (particularly to young people) in these communities so they could make the rough transition from an industrial economy to a service based economy.

    WHAT OCCURRED INSTEAD?

    Mrs. Alexander says (after overcoming her own bias and her own stereotypes while working to help this population) the following occurred:

    A road more familiar when it comes to matters of race: we chose the road of division, punitiveness and despair

    As a society, we ended the War on Poverty and declared the War on Drugs.

    Black men found themselves suddenly disposable, no longer functioning to the US economy precisely at the same moment a backlash was brewing against the Civil Right Movement.

    A backlash that made it convenient for politicians to demonize black men as criminals, shiftless; as unwilling to work.

    Thus, war on drugs was declared and black men realized they were no longer needed to work in fields and factories

    They Found themselves as scapegoats, pawns in political games by the enemy in a new war and were rounded up by the millions, locked up, and then…permanently locked out.

    ISSUE:

    And now decades later we stand by and say, “What’s wrong with these people?” “Why are they killing each other?” “Why is there so much much violence in these communities we have abandoned?” (These)Communities where good schools cannot be found but high tech prisons are a drive away. “What’s wrong with them?”

    THE DEEPER AND MORE PROFOUND QUESTION:

    WHAT’S WRONG WITH US? WHY HAVE WE BEEN SILENT FOR SO LONG?

    Alexander argues that in the day of so-called “colorblindness” and, yes, even in the Age of Obama, and even right there in Obama’s hometown, something akin to a CASTE SYSTEM is alive and well in America that shuttles our children to decrepit schools to brand new high tech prisons. A system that locks poor people, overwhelmingly poor folks of color, into a permanent second class status–nearly as effective as earlier systems of racial and social control once did.

    SHE PROCLAIMS THIS NEW SYSTEM IS THE MORAL EQUIVALENT OF JIM CROW.

    ISSUE:

    Alexander (like so many others) was at first reluctant to believe this.

    Why?

    Thought that activists and others who ascribed to this view were in error and hindering progress doing more harm than good to reform the criminal justice system and achieve racial equality in the US.

    EXPLANTION OF “WHY?”:

    Worked for years as a civil rights lawyer and advocate for victims of:

    racial profiling,

    police brutality, and

    investigating patterns of drug law enforcement in poor communities of color; and

    attempting to assist people who had been released from prison as they faced one closed door after another…

    One legal barrier to their supposed “re-entry” into society that had never shown much use for them in the first place, Alexander awakened to the reality that our Justice System functions more like a system of Racial and Social Control than a system of Crime Prevention and Control.

    What has changed since the collapse of Jim Crow, has less to do with the basic structure of our society than the LANGUAGE we use to justify it.

    COLORBLINDNESS: JUSTICE SYSTEM FRAMEWORK FOR LEGAL DISCRIMINATION:

    In the era of colorblindness, it is no longer socially permissible to explicitly use “race” specifically as a justification for discrimination, exclusion and social contempt. SO WE DON’T.

    We use our criminal justice system to label people criminals that engage in all the practices we supposedly left behind.

    Today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against criminals in all the ways it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans.

    Once labeled a felon, all the old forms of discrimination: employment, housing, denial of the right
    to vote, jury service exclusion became suddenly legal.

    As a criminal, you have scarcely less rights and arguably less respect than a black man living in Alabama at the height of Jim Crow.

    We have not ended racial caste in America, WE HAVE MERELY REDESIGNED IT.

    ISSUE:

    NOTHING LIKE THE SYSTEM OF MASS INCARCERATION HAD EXISTED BEFORE.

    And although statistics indicate that blacks were not engaging in drug dealing any more significantly than whites or any other ethnic group, they were and are disproportionately targeted for arrest and incarceration leading to a major disparity in felony outcomes for drug related offenses.

    The video goes more in depth about the Nixon/Regan War on Drugs and the targeting of Blacks as part of the Southern Strategy and backlash to gains made during the Civil Rights Movement:

    Threatened whites who fled the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. Thus so many of the rules, laws, policies and practices that constituted the basic architecture of this new caste system were championed by a democratic administration (The Clinton Administration) desperate to win back those so-called white swing voters–folks who had defected from the Democratic Party during the wake of the Civil Rights Movement.

    Regan hired staff to feed the media propaganda about Crack and all its maladies.

    President Clinton seemingly in competition with the Southern Strategy, initiated directives which were far more harsh than anything before against blacks:

    a. banning drug offenders from financial aid upon release from prison,

    b. banning those with criminal records from public housing,

    c. championed the federal law denying food stamps to people with drug felonies.

    But of course, there were more than a few black politicians and black voices that were saying, “Get tough,” too.

    The crack epidemic had created violence that was spinning out of control. And fear was sweeping communities about what this drug was doing.

    And it was abundantly clear to poor black communities that if you asked for schools you weren’t likely to get them;

    Ask for jobs and economic investment, you won’t get that either. What we’ve learned is that the one thing that poor communities of color can ask for and get is police and prisons.

    WHAT HAPPENED TO CREATE THE PRESENT SITUATION? WHAT CAN BE DONE?

    It seems we got more than we bargained for. Here we are decades later with millions of people cycling in and out of prisons, trapped in a perpetual under-caste.

    Many people who are familiar with this racial history say that’s a shame, too; but, we still need to get tough on “them.”

    Possible Solution?:

    Declare a war on them because that is where the violent offenders are…and the drug kingpins. What many people who are familiar with this drug war fail to realize is that this drug war has never been about rooting out the violent offenders and drug kingpins.

    Historical Reality:

    Federal funding in this war has flowed to state and local law enforcement agencies to boost the sheer numbers of drug arrests. It’s become a numbers game. State and local law enforcement agencies have been awarded in cash for going out looking for the “low hanging fruit.”
    Stopping,
    frisking,
    searching as many people as possible to boost their numbers.

    And the results have been predictable. The majority of people arrested in the drug war have been arrested for relatively non-violent drug offenses. Back in the 1980s at the height of drug arrests nearly 80% were for marijuana possession. Used at least as much, if not more, in white neighborhoods and college campuses. Yet, the war has been waged almost exclusively in the hood.

    A vast new racial under-caste in an astonishingly short period of time.

    THE ROLE OF THE SUPREME COURT IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE PERMANENT UNDER-CASTE

    And where has the Supreme Court been in all this?

    Far from resisting the rise in mass incarceration, the US Supreme Court has eviscerated 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

    The Court has granted the police the license to:

    stop,
    frisk,
    search just about anyone anywhere as long as they get “consent.”

    And what is consent?

    Consent is when a police officer walks up to a young man with one hand on his gun and says:

    “Son, will you put your arms up in the air so I can frisk you?”

    And asks, “Do you’ve have anything on you?”

    Young man says, “Uh-huh.”

    And that’s consent and the young man just waived his 4th Amendment protections to unreasonable search and seizures.

    The police don’t have to have a shred of evidence,

    No reasonable suspicion,

    No probable cause…NOTHING, to engage in that search in that encounter.

    And while that may seem like no big deal, just an inconvenience, momentary humiliation…that gets played out over and over and over again.

    [NYPD reported in one year alone that they stopped and frisked over 600,000 people. Overwhelmingly black and brown men.]

    The US Supreme Court through a series of decisions, beginning with McClesky v. Kemp and Armstrong v. United States, has ruled that we cannot challenge these racial disparities now in a court of law.

    The Court has ruled that it does not matter how overwhelming the statistical evidence might be of discrimination.

    The Court has ruled that it does not matter how severe the racial disparities are, unless you can offer evidence of conscious intentional bias tantamount to an admission by an officer they acted with discriminatory intent, you cannot even state a claim for race discrimination in our criminal justice system today.

    So many of the racial profiling cases that Mrs. Alexander was bringing, more than ten years ago, can’t even be filed today. The Court has closed the courthouse doors to claims of racial bias and every stage of the criminal justice process from stops to searches to plea bargaining in sentencing. This has made it virtually impossible to challenge bias in our system today.

    In today’s colorblind society, most officers know not to state biases out loud. But once having gone through that beginning experience, you’re ushered into a parallel universe in which many of the basic civil and human rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement no longer apply to you.

    DISCRIMINATION IS LEGAL!!! in countless aspects of your daily life. For the rest of your life you’ve got to check that box “unemployed” on employment applications asking if you’ve ever been convicted of a felony.

    It doesn’t matter how long ago that felony may have happened. Your application is likely going straight to the trash. Many people say, “Oh, you’re making excuses for people. When you get out of prison it may be hard, it may be tough but if you really apply yourself, you know, if you just hustle, get out there and look for a job…you can find a good job. I mean you can get a job at McDonald’s or something.”

    THE FELON EXPERIENCE

    Well, getting a job at McDonald’s is no easy feat if you have a felony record. And in so many of the communities to which people who are branded felons return, there are no jobs to be found…in McDonald or elsewhere.

    And some people say to me, “Well, they could start their own businesses or something, become entrepreneurs.”

    Alexander says, “Most people coming out of prison don’t have a whole lot of money to invest in a new business but even if they did hundreds of professional licenses are off limits to people who have been branded felons. In her state, Ohio, you can’t even get a license to be a barber if you’ve been convicted of a felony.

    Housing discrimination perfectly legal, public housing may be off limits. Private landlords routinely discriminate against people with criminal records.

    What are people released from prison expected to do?

    Apparently what we’re expected to do:

    Pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees, fines, court costs, accumulated back child support, which continues to accrue while you’re in prison.

    And in several states you are actually expected to pay back the cost of your imprisonment.

    And if that isn’t enough, well…get this: If you’re one of the lucky few, the very few who actually manages to get a job straight out of prison, up to 100% of your wages can be garnished to pay back all those fees, fines, court costs.

    What are folks expected to do?

    When we step back and take a look at this system as a whole, what is it designed to do? Seems that it’s designed to send folks right back to prison. Which is what, in fact, happens the majority of the time.

    About 70% of people released from prison return within a few years.

    And a majority of those in some states do so in a matter of months.

    WHAT TYPES OF CRIMES CAUSE PEOPLE TO RETURN TO PRISON?

    Most of the types of crimes that land people back in prison are crimes of survival…or, even less.

    Infractions on their parole or probation,

    failure to pee in the cup,

    to meet with your probation officer.

    Or, like theft, shoplifting, passing bad checks.

    Or, crimes of despair like: drug addiction, drug abuse.

    But, of course, some people released from prison also commit crimes of violence.

    Now, we claim to care a whole lot about violence and yet we have created a system which virtually guarantees that millions of people will be unable to work.

    Who will be locked out of the legal economy. Who will be set adrift. We create masses of jobless people trapped in a perpetual under-caste. Nowhere is that more obvious than right here in Chicago. Chicago has been ground zero in the drug war.

    It was recently (at the time of this speech) reported that more than 70% of all criminal cases in Chicago involve a Class D Felony drug possession charge (lowest level felony).

    To put the situation in some perspective here in Chicago and to put the violence here in some perspective consider this:

    The parents of the young men who are members of gangs today…The parents of those young men were themselves targets of the Drug War in the 1980s and the 1990s.

    In 1999, only 992 black men received a bachelors degree from Illinois State Universities while roughly 7,000 black men were released from state prison that year just for drug offenses alone. They are the parents of the young men who now find themselves trapped in the under-caste too often venting their rage and frustration on one another.

    A 50 year old African American man told Mrs. Alexander a story recently about when he was in prison. He was in federal prison:

    He had been sentenced to 18 years for a crack offense.

    And when he left home he had young sons.

    And just as he was preparing for release from his federal prison term, his sons began to join him behind bars. And it wasn’t just his sons, but the neighbors sons, all the boys on the block were coming in too.

    The generational cycle had begun…as father, son found themselves trapped cycling in and out of the system.

    Now we have millions of people trapped in the system. An estimated 60 million people with criminal records today?

    WHAT DO WE DO? WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

    Alexander’s view is that if we’re serious:

    about ending this,

    about dismantling mass incarceration,

    dismantling this entire caste-like system that use people as disposable,

    if we’re serious about this, nothing less than a major social movement will do. And if you’re tempted to believe that something less will do…that we can tinker with this machine and somehow get it right…a few reforms here and a few reforms there…get this machine humming back on track again–consider this:

    If we were to return to the rates of incarceration we had in the 1970s or early 1980s before the War on Drugs and the Get Tough Movement, we’d have to:

    Release 4 out of 5 people who are in prison today. 4 out of 5.

    More than a million people employed by the criminal justice system would lose their jobs.

    Most of prison construction occurs in predominately rural white communities, that are quite vulnerable economically…many of these communities have been “sold” on prisons as the answer to their economic growth. And very often, the benefits that prisons provide these communities are grossly exaggerated. In some communities, prisons have turned out to be a net loss but nonetheless communities across America have now come to believe that their economy depends on prisons. They “need the jobs”. Those prisons across America would have to close down. Private prison companies now listed on the NYSE, doing quite well, would be forced into bankruptcy. This system is now so deeply routed in our political. social and economic structure that it’s not just going to fade away.

    It’s not just going to downsize out of sight without a major shift in public consciousness, an upheaval, a very radical shift on our part.

    Alexander says she knows there’s a lot of people who say this is just dreaming, pie in the sky, there’s no hope of ending mass incarceration in America. Just as many people were resigned to Jim Crow in the South: That’s just the way it is.

    She finds that many people of all colors view the millions of people cycling in and out of our jails as just AN UNFORTUNATE BUT INALTERABLE FACT OF AMERICAN LIFE.

    Mrs. Alexander says she’s quite certain that Sojourner Truth, Ella Baker, Dr. King, Malcolm, and the many others who risked their lives to end earlier systems of racial and social control would not be so easily deterred.

    So, if we are going to honor them, we have got to be willing to pick up where they left off. And do the hard work of movement building.

    Movement building must be on behalf of poor people of all colors.

    In 1968, Dr. King told advocates that the time had come to shift from a Civil Rights Movement to a Human Rights Movement. He said meaningful equality cannot be achieved through civil rights alone.

    Without basic human rights, the right to work, the right to housing, the right to quality education. Without basic human rights, he said, civil rights are an empty promise.
    WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO TO BUILD THIS MOVEMENT?

    To build upon the work that’s already being done in so many communities, including here in Chicago, Alexander says she thinks:

    We have got to insist upon telling the truth, the whole truth. I think that we’ve got to admit out loud that we as a nation has re-birthed a caste-like system in this country.

    We’ve got to be willing to tell this truth in our churches, in our schools, in prisons, in re-entry centers. We’ve go to be willing to tell this truth so that a great awakening can occur.

    WHY?

    Because:

    Unlike the old Jim Crow, there are no signs alerting you to the existence of this new caste system.

    The “Whites Only” signs are gone. But, there are new signs that have popped up: employment applications, housing applications, letting you know who the unwanted are, who the untouchable now are.

    The lack of signs, the lack of visibility poses a real problem for us in movement building because:

    prisons are out of sight, out of mind. If you aren’t directly impacted by this system, if you don’t have a loved one behind bars, if you’re middle class, live in a “good” neighborhood, you’re white…you could live your whole life and have no idea of what is really going on.

    Alexander says, “I lived my life as a civil rights lawyer not fully understanding what was going on.”

    So, if we are going to engage in movement building:

    WE HAVE GOT TO MAKE VISIBLE WHAT IS HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT.

    WE HAVE GOT TO PULL BACK THE CURTAIN AND HELP OTHERS TO SEE WHAT WE HAVE BEEN WILLINGLY BLIND TO FOR SO LONG.

    AND THAT MEANS CONSCIOUSNESS RAISING.

    IT MEANS HAVING DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS: IN CHURCHES, IN SCHOOLS, IN ALL KINDS OF SETTINGS…FORCING PEOPLE TO DEAL WITH, RECKON WITH WHAT WE AS A NATION HAVE DONE AGAIN.

    WHAT ELSE MUST BE DONE?

    But of course, talking isn’t going to be enough.

    We’ve got to be willing to get to work. And that means:

    Building an underground railroad for people released from prison.

    An underground railroad for those who are trying to make a genuine break for real freedom.

    Opening our schools, opening our doors of employment, opening our homes, opening our hearts to people who need …desperately need, not just support but who genuinely need love.

    They also need acceptance. They need to know that WE BELIEVE IN THEM AND ARE WILLING TO STAND WITH THEM AS THEY MAKE A GENUINE BREAK FOR REAL FREEDOM.

    But of course, just building an underground railroad is not going to be enough either. Shuttling a few to freedom one-by-one…just as in the days of slavery wasn’t enough.

    YOU HAVE TO BE WILLING TO WORK FOR ABOLITION.

    Alexander says, THAT WE HAVE GOT TO BE WILLING TO WORK FOR THE ABOLITION OF THE SYSTEM OF MASS INCARCERATION AS A WHOLE. AND THAT MEANS ENDING THE WAR ON DRUGS ONCE AND FOR ALL.

    We have spent a trillion dollars since the war began. We spent it on locking people up instead of investing in our communities.

    WHAT CAN BE DONE?

    It’s time to shift to A PUBLIC HEALTH MODEL for dealing with drug addiction and drug abuse and stop criminalizing what is ultimately a public health problem for some.

    Have also got to END ALL THESE LEGAL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION TOWARD THOSE WHO ARE RELEASED FROM PRISON. DISCRIMINATION THAT DENIES THEM BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS.

    But last, not least, WE HAVE GOT TO SHIFT FROM A PURELY PUNATIVE APPROACH FOR DEALING WITH VIOLENCE AND VIOLENT CRIME IN OUR COMMUNITIES TO A MORE REHABILITATIVE AND RESTORATIVE APPROACH. ONE THAT TAKES SERIOUSLY THE INTEREST OF THE VICTIM, THE OFFENDER AND THE COMMUNITY AS A WHOLE.

    So, we have got a lot of work to do.

    The current system rests on one core belief, some of us are not worthy of….

    THE MOVEMENT MUST BE MULTI-RACIAL, MULTI-ETHNIC, HUMAN RIGHTS ORIENTED.

    A GREAT AWAKENING MUST OCCUR MOVING AWAY FROM THIS “COLORBLIND SOCIETY” TO THE REALITIES OF RACE IN AMERICA AND EMBRACE THOSE LABELED ‘CRIMINALS’ — Not necessarily their behavior, but their Human-ness.

  2. #2 Afi G. Osakwe 24 September, 2017, 13:14

    This comment is a modified transcript of the video. It is hoped that it offers the ability to have clarity beyond just listening, evening while taking your own notes. It is hoped that her most salient observations provide useful information for action.
    —————————————————————————————-
    Mrs. Alexander’s analysis is one of the most probing and factual accounts of white supremacy and its impact on black, brown, and under-served communities depicting current realities of the Black Experience. She uses its historical underpinning in the United States while exposing the willful intent of government to systematically keep black and brown people subservience designed to maximize opportunities for whites based upon white skin privilege.

    While doing this, she provides data, policy, and narrative that she admits she was oblivious to, which clearly shows that Jim Crowism has returned even though there is the pretense of a “color blind” society at work. She also admits that she was blind-sided by this fact even though she thought she was working to help those who had been impacted by it.

    How so? It wasn’t until she began to seriously listen to what was being said by the victims of it that she was stunned by a consciousness of the creation of a permanent underclass caste system by a white Southern Strategy where both Republicans and Democrats raised the specter of a “War On Drugs” to incarcerate millions of black and brown people (particularly males0 and effectively disenfranchise and permanently keep them unemployed.

    She paints a devastating picture of what occurred and what we face as a nation. She also provides solutions. After reading the review and listening to the video, I suggest you evaluate the efficacy of her recommendations and bring others into the conversation as well.

    Peter Grear is to be highly commended for creating a platform where consciousness can be raised through re-education and the use of understanding history in its proper context as correct knowledge to move us as human beings to another level. As Mrs. Alexander correctly pronounces: This is a human rights issue, not a civil rights one.

    CONSIDERATIONS:

    She quoted Martin Luther King, Jr. who noted three very important aspects about the issue of race in the United States and what must be done:

    I. MLK Analysis

    “I don’t see how we will ever solve the problem of race confronting our nation until:

    (1) There is an honest confrontation with it,

    (2) A willing search for the truth, and

    (3) A willingness to admit the truth when we discover it”

    II. Alexander used the MLK observation to seriously address the aforementioned MLK observations in the video by:

    (1) “Tell(ing) the truth, the whole truth about Race in America today,”

    (2) Stating that it is “A truth that many Americans will deny just as they were eager to deny the truth about slavery and Jim Crow, and…

    (3) Proving the truth.

    The truth, as fact, raises questions and provides solutions for our consideration:

    1. Who was POTUS at the time of the publication of her book and speech captured on video?

    2. In what city was Attorney Alexander speaking and of what political significance is it to her study?

    3. Seventy percent of all African Americans in the Chicago area held blue collar factory jobs in 1970. By 1987 the percentage had dropped to what? Why?

    4. What conditions did this sudden socioeconomic condition cause within those communities and to whom was it most devastating?

    5. What role did the Gun Control Debate contribute to negligence of the real causes of increased violence and the homicide rate in Chicago (a mere example of the economic collapse that was occurring across the country in major urban areas)?

    6. What new system has emerged although it is barely mentioned in the media?

    7. Why are violence and homicide spiraling out of control in communities defined by race and class? In other words, why are some cities war zones and others not?

    8. What were the actual causes that were being neglected? What was the impact?

    9. In what ways could the US Government have responded to address this crisis (small depression) in large urban areas?

    10. In view of the fact that the crisis was due in part to the transition from an industrial based economy to a service based economy, how did the US Government respond instead?

    11. What was the response of the US Government to this sudden shift?

    12. As a society we stopped the War on Poverty and created the War on Drugs? Why?

    13. At precisely the time there was a backlash against the Civil Rights Movement, American society

    ISSUE:

    The Gun Control Debate has never been about the number of guns, but the number of good schools, jobs, and educational opportunities. A deliberate choice has been made. Rather than build good schools, provide jobs, and assist those in need due to white supremacist legislation and de facto practices to increase joblessness in the black community, decisions were made to build high-tech prisons as the new industry for channeling blacks back into a new slavery/Jim Crow era of both free and perpetual subsistence level labor. Mrs. Alexander cites the book When Work Disappears, and provides some of his stat by William Julius Wilson, and cites some of his statistics concerning the the central problem in central city ghettos is the disappearance of work and the consequences of that disappearance for both social and cultural life.

    Mrs. Alexander interprets data that indicates men who are chronically jobless are more likely to be violent and that communities plagued by exceedingly high levels of joblessness are more likely to be violent.

    HISTORY:

    A shift occurred in late 50s, 60s into the early 70s where jobs disappeared. Factories were located in urban areas near segregated black communities for easy access to cheap black labor.

    FACTS:

    An example: In 1970 in Chicago more than 70% of all African Americans located in the Chicago area held blue collar factory jobs.

    ISSUE:

    Almost overnight, those jobs vanished:

    By 1987, the industrial employment of black men had plummeted to 28% due to De-industrialization, globalization, technological advancement, factories closing down, and jobs moving overseas. Hundreds of thousands of people (overwhelmingly black men) suddenly found themselves jobless, trapped in racially segregated jobless communities while economic collapse occurred in urban areas across the country. (Rural areas were not without the maladies of an agrarian history of endemic poverty. Living within the more overt white supremacist system of entrenched segregationist policies and inherited white terrorism, blacks had fled North.)

    POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS NOT IMPLEMENTED:

    1. The US could have responded to this crisis (little depression) in large urban areas with an outpouring of care, compassion and concern.

    2. The government could have responded with bailout packages, economic stimulus programs, job training (particularly to young people) in these communities so they could make the rough transition from an industrial economy to a service based economy.

    WHAT OCCURRED INSTEAD?

    Mrs. Alexander says (after overcoming her own bias and her own stereotypes while working to help this population) the following occurred:

    A road more familiar when it comes to matters of race: we chose the road of division, punitiveness and despair

    As a society, we ended the War on Poverty and declared the War on Drugs.

    Black men found themselves suddenly disposable, no longer functioning to the US economy precisely at the same moment a backlash was brewing against the Civil Right Movement.

    A backlash that made it convenient for politicians to demonize black men as criminals, shiftless; as unwilling to work.

    Thus, war on drugs was declared and black men realized they were no longer needed to work in fields and factories

    They Found themselves as scapegoats, pawns in political games by the enemy in a new war and were rounded up by the millions, locked up, and then…permanently locked out.

    ISSUE:

    And now decades later we stand by and say, “What’s wrong with these people?” “Why are they killing each other?” “Why is there so much much violence in these communities we have abandoned?” (These)Communities where good schools cannot be found but high tech prisons are a drive away. “What’s wrong with them?”

    THE DEEPER AND MORE PROFOUND QUESTION:

    WHAT’S WRONG WITH US? WHY HAVE WE BEEN SILENT FOR SO LONG?

    Alexander argues that in the day of so-called “colorblindness” and, yes, even in the Age of Obama, and even right there in Obama’s hometown, something akin to a CASTE SYSTEM is alive and well in America that shuttles our children to decrepit schools to brand new high tech prisons. A system that locks poor people, overwhelmingly poor folks of color, into a permanent second class status–nearly as effective as earlier systems of racial and social control once did.

    SHE PROCLAIMS THIS NEW SYSTEM IS THE MORAL EQUIVALENT OF JIM CROW.

    ISSUE:

    Alexander (like so many others) was at first reluctant to believe this.

    Why?

    Thought that activists and others who ascribed to this view were in error and hindering progress doing more harm than good to reform the criminal justice system and achieve racial equality in the US.

    EXPLANTION OF “WHY?”:

    Worked for years as a civil rights lawyer and advocate for victims of:

    racial profiling,

    police brutality, and

    investigating patterns of drug law enforcement in poor communities of color; and

    attempting to assist people who had been released from prison as they faced one closed door after another…

    One legal barrier to their supposed “re-entry” into society that had never shown much use for them in the first place, Alexander awakened to the reality that our Justice System functions more like a system of Racial and Social Control than a system of Crime Prevention and Control.

    What has changed since the collapse of Jim Crow, has less to do with the basic structure of our society than the LANGUAGE we use to justify it.

    COLORBLINDNESS: JUSTICE SYSTEM FRAMEWORK FOR LEGAL DISCRIMINATION:

    In the era of colorblindness, it is no longer socially permissible to explicitly use “race” specifically as a justification for discrimination, exclusion and social contempt. SO WE DON’T.

    We use our criminal justice system to label people criminals that engage in all the practices we supposedly left behind.

    Today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against criminals in all the ways it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans.

    Once labeled a felon, all the old forms of discrimination: employment, housing, denial of the right
    to vote, jury service exclusion became suddenly legal.

    As a criminal, you have scarcely less rights and arguably less respect than a black man living in Alabama at the height of Jim Crow.

    We have not ended racial caste in America, WE HAVE MERELY REDESIGNED IT.

    ISSUE:

    NOTHING LIKE THE SYSTEM OF MASS INCARCERATION HAD EXISTED BEFORE.

    And although statistics indicate that blacks were not engaging in drug dealing any more significantly than whites or any other ethnic group, they were and are disproportionately targeted for arrest and incarceration leading to a major disparity in felony outcomes for drug related offenses.

    The video goes more in depth about the Nixon/Regan War on Drugs and the targeting of Blacks as part of the Southern Strategy and backlash to gains made during the Civil Rights Movement:

    Threatened whites who fled the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. Thus so many of the rules, laws, policies and practices that constituted the basic architecture of this new caste system were championed by a democratic administration (The Clinton Administration) desperate to win back those so-called white swing voters–folks who had defected from the Democratic Party during the wake of the Civil Rights Movement.

    Regan hired staff to feed the media propaganda about Crack and all its maladies.

    President Clinton seemingly in competition with the Southern Strategy, initiated directives which were far more harsh than anything before against blacks:

    a. banning drug offenders from financial aid upon release from prison,

    b. banning those with criminal records from public housing,

    c. championed the federal law denying food stamps to people with drug felonies.

    But of course, there were more than a few black politicians and black voices that were saying, “Get tough,” too.

    The crack epidemic had created violence that was spinning out of control. And fear was sweeping communities about what this drug was doing.

    And it was abundantly clear to poor black communities that if you asked for schools you weren’t likely to get them;

    Ask for jobs and economic investment, you won’t get that either. What we’ve learned is that the one thing that poor communities of color can ask for and get is police and prisons.

    WHAT HAPPENED TO CREATE THE PRESENT SITUATION? WHAT CAN BE DONE?

    It seems we got more than we bargained for. Here we are decades later with millions of people cycling in and out of prisons, trapped in a perpetual under-caste.

    Many people who are familiar with this racial history say that’s a shame, too; but, we still need to get tough on “them.”

    Possible Solution?:

    Declare a war on them because that is where the violent offenders are…and the drug kingpins. What many people who are familiar with this drug war fail to realize is that this drug war has never been about rooting out the violent offenders and drug kingpins.

    Historical Reality:

    Federal funding in this war has flowed to state and local law enforcement agencies to boost the sheer numbers of drug arrests. It’s become a numbers game. State and local law enforcement agencies have been awarded in cash for going out looking for the “low hanging fruit.”
    Stopping,
    frisking,
    searching as many people as possible to boost their numbers.

    And the results have been predictable. The majority of people arrested in the drug war have been arrested for relatively non-violent drug offenses. Back in the 1980s at the height of drug arrests nearly 80% were for marijuana possession. Used at least as much, if not more, in white neighborhoods and college campuses. Yet, the war has been waged almost exclusively in the hood.

    A vast new racial under-caste in an astonishingly short period of time.

    THE ROLE OF THE SUPREME COURT IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE PERMANENT UNDER-CASTE

    And where has the Supreme Court been in all this?

    Far from resisting the rise in mass incarceration, the US Supreme Court has eviscerated 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

    The Court has granted the police the license to:

    stop,
    frisk,
    search just about anyone anywhere as long as they get “consent.”

    And what is consent?

    Consent is when a police officer walks up to a young man with one hand on his gun and says:

    “Son, will you put your arms up in the air so I can frisk you?”

    And asks, “Do you’ve have anything on you?”

    Young man says, “Uh-huh.”

    And that’s consent and the young man just waived his 4th Amendment protections to unreasonable search and seizures.

    The police don’t have to have a shred of evidence,

    No reasonable suspicion,

    No probable cause…NOTHING, to engage in that search in that encounter.

    And while that may seem like no big deal, just an inconvenience, momentary humiliation…that gets played out over and over and over again.

    [NYPD reported in one year alone that they stopped and frisked over 600,000 people. Overwhelmingly black and brown men.]

    The US Supreme Court through a series of decisions, beginning with McClesky v. Kemp and Armstrong v. United States, has ruled that we cannot challenge these racial disparities now in a court of law.

    The Court has ruled that it does not matter how overwhelming the statistical evidence might be of discrimination.

    The Court has ruled that it does not matter how severe the racial disparities are, unless you can offer evidence of conscious intentional bias tantamount to an admission by an officer they acted with discriminatory intent, you cannot even state a claim for race discrimination in our criminal justice system today.

    So many of the racial profiling cases that Mrs. Alexander was bringing, more than ten years ago, can’t even be filed today. The Court has closed the courthouse doors to claims of racial bias and every stage of the criminal justice process from stops to searches to plea bargaining in sentencing. This has made it virtually impossible to challenge bias in our system today.

    In today’s colorblind society, most officers know not to state biases out loud. But once having gone through that beginning experience, you’re ushered into a parallel universe in which many of the basic civil and human rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement no longer apply to you.

    DISCRIMINATION IS LEGAL!!! in countless aspects of your daily life. For the rest of your life you’ve got to check that box “unemployed” on employment applications asking if you’ve ever been convicted of a felony.

    It doesn’t matter how long ago that felony may have happened. Your application is likely going straight to the trash. Many people say, “Oh, you’re making excuses for people. When you get out of prison it may be hard, it may be tough but if you really apply yourself, you know, if you just hustle, get out there and look for a job…you can find a good job. I mean you can get a job at McDonald’s or something.”

    THE FELON EXPERIENCE

    Well, getting a job at McDonald’s is no easy feat if you have a felony record. And in so many of the communities to which people who are branded felons return, there are no jobs to be found…in McDonald or elsewhere.

    And some people say to me, “Well, they could start their own businesses or something, become entrepreneurs.”

    Alexander says, “Most people coming out of prison don’t have a whole lot of money to invest in a new business but even if they did hundreds of professional licenses are off limits to people who have been branded felons. In her state, Ohio, you can’t even get a license to be a barber if you’ve been convicted of a felony.

    Housing discrimination perfectly legal, public housing may be off limits. Private landlords routinely discriminate against people with criminal records.

    What are people released from prison expected to do?

    Apparently what we’re expected to do:

    Pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees, fines, court costs, accumulated back child support, which continues to accrue while you’re in prison.

    And in several states you are actually expected to pay back the cost of your imprisonment.

    And if that isn’t enough, well…get this: If you’re one of the lucky few, the very few who actually manages to get a job straight out of prison, up to 100% of your wages can be garnished to pay back all those fees, fines, court costs.

    What are folks expected to do?

    When we step back and take a look at this system as a whole, what is it designed to do? Seems that it’s designed to send folks right back to prison. Which is what, in fact, happens the majority of the time.

    About 70% of people released from prison return within a few years.

    And a majority of those in some states do so in a matter of months.

    WHAT TYPES OF CRIMES CAUSE PEOPLE TO RETURN TO PRISON?

    Most of the types of crimes that land people back in prison are crimes of survival…or, even less.

    Infractions on their parole or probation,

    failure to pee in the cup,

    to meet with your probation officer.

    Or, like theft, shoplifting, passing bad checks.

    Or, crimes of despair like: drug addiction, drug abuse.

    But, of course, some people released from prison also commit crimes of violence.

    Now, we claim to care a whole lot about violence and yet we have created a system which virtually guarantees that millions of people will be unable to work.

    Who will be locked out of the legal economy. Who will be set adrift. We create masses of jobless people trapped in a perpetual under-caste. Nowhere is that more obvious than right here in Chicago. Chicago has been ground zero in the drug war.

    It was recently (at the time of this speech) reported that more than 70% of all criminal cases in Chicago involve a Class D Felony drug possession charge (lowest level felony).

    To put the situation in some perspective here in Chicago and to put the violence here in some perspective consider this:

    The parents of the young men who are members of gangs today…The parents of those young men were themselves targets of the Drug War in the 1980s and the 1990s.

    In 1999, only 992 black men received a bachelors degree from Illinois State Universities while roughly 7,000 black men were released from state prison that year just for drug offenses alone. They are the parents of the young men who now find themselves trapped in the under-caste too often venting their rage and frustration on one another.

    A 50 year old African American man told Mrs. Alexander a story recently about when he was in prison. He was in federal prison:

    He had been sentenced to 18 years for a crack offense.

    And when he left home he had young sons.

    And just as he was preparing for release from his federal prison term, his sons began to join him behind bars. And it wasn’t just his sons, but the neighbors sons, all the boys on the block were coming in too.

    The generational cycle had begun…as father, son found themselves trapped cycling in and out of the system.

    Now we have millions of people trapped in the system. An estimated 60 million people with criminal records today?

    WHAT DO WE DO? WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

    Alexander’s view is that if we’re serious:

    about ending this,

    about dismantling mass incarceration,

    dismantling this entire caste-like system that use people as disposable,

    if we’re serious about this, nothing less than a major social movement will do. And if you’re tempted to believe that something less will do…that we can tinker with this machine and somehow get it right…a few reforms here and a few reforms there…get this machine humming back on track again–consider this:

    If we were to return to the rates of incarceration we had in the 1970s or early 1980s before the War on Drugs and the Get Tough Movement, we’d have to:

    Release 4 out of 5 people who are in prison today. 4 out of 5.

    More than a million people employed by the criminal justice system would lose their jobs.

    Most of prison construction occurs in predominately rural white communities, that are quite vulnerable economically…many of these communities have been “sold” on prisons as the answer to their economic growth. And very often, the benefits that prisons provide these communities are grossly exaggerated. In some communities, prisons have turned out to be a net loss but nonetheless communities across America have now come to believe that their economy depends on prisons. They “need the jobs”. Those prisons across America would have to close down. Private prison companies now listed on the NYSE, doing quite well, would be forced into bankruptcy. This system is now so deeply routed in our political. social and economic structure that it’s not just going to fade away.

    It’s not just going to downsize out of sight without a major shift in public consciousness, an upheaval, a very radical shift on our part.

    Alexander says she knows there’s a lot of people who say this is just dreaming, pie in the sky, there’s no hope of ending mass incarceration in America. Just as many people were resigned to Jim Crow in the South: That’s just the way it is.

    She finds that many people of all colors view the millions of people cycling in and out of our jails as just AN UNFORTUNATE BUT INALTERABLE FACT OF AMERICAN LIFE.

    Mrs. Alexander says she’s quite certain that Sojourner Truth, Ella Baker, Dr. King, Malcolm, and the many others who risked their lives to end earlier systems of racial and social control would not be so easily deterred.

    So, if we are going to honor them, we have got to be willing to pick up where they left off. And do the hard work of movement building.

    Movement building must be on behalf of poor people of all colors.

    In 1968, Dr. King told advocates that the time had come to shift from a Civil Rights Movement to a Human Rights Movement. He said meaningful equality cannot be achieved through civil rights alone.

    Without basic human rights, the right to work, the right to housing, the right to quality education. Without basic human rights, he said, civil rights are an empty promise.
    WHAT DO WE NEED TO DO TO BUILD THIS MOVEMENT?

    To build upon the work that’s already being done in so many communities, including here in Chicago, Alexander says she thinks:

    We have got to insist upon telling the truth, the whole truth. I think that we’ve got to admit out loud that we as a nation has re-birthed a caste-like system in this country.

    We’ve got to be willing to tell this truth in our churches, in our schools, in prisons, in re-entry centers. We’ve go to be willing to tell this truth so that a great awakening can occur.

    WHY?

    Because:

    Unlike the old Jim Crow, there are no signs alerting you to the existence of this new caste system.

    The “Whites Only” signs are gone. But, there are new signs that have popped up: employment applications, housing applications, letting you know who the unwanted are, who the untouchable now are.

    The lack of signs, the lack of visibility poses a real problem for us in movement building because:

    prisons are out of sight, out of mind. If you aren’t directly impacted by this system, if you don’t have a loved one behind bars, if you’re middle class, live in a “good” neighborhood, you’re white…you could live your whole life and have no idea of what is really going on.

    Alexander says, “I lived my life as a civil rights lawyer not fully understanding what was going on.”

    So, if we are going to engage in movement building:

    WE HAVE GOT TO MAKE VISIBLE WHAT IS HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT.

    WE HAVE GOT TO PULL BACK THE CURTAIN AND HELP OTHERS TO SEE WHAT WE HAVE BEEN WILLINGLY BLIND TO FOR SO LONG.

    AND THAT MEANS CONSCIOUSNESS RAISING.

    IT MEANS HAVING DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS: IN CHURCHES, IN SCHOOLS, IN ALL KINDS OF SETTINGS…FORCING PEOPLE TO DEAL WITH, RECKON WITH WHAT WE AS A NATION HAVE DONE AGAIN.

    WHAT ELSE MUST BE DONE?

    But of course, talking isn’t going to be enough.

    We’ve got to be willing to get to work. And that means:

    Building an underground railroad for people released from prison.

    An underground railroad for those who are trying to make a genuine break for real freedom.

    Opening our schools, opening our doors of employment, opening our homes, opening our hearts to people who need …desperately need, not just support but who genuinely need love.

    They also need acceptance. They need to know that WE BELIEVE IN THEM AND ARE WILLING TO STAND WITH THEM AS THEY MAKE A GENUINE BREAK FOR REAL FREEDOM.

    But of course, just building an underground railroad is not going to be enough either. Shuttling a few to freedom one-by-one…just as in the days of slavery wasn’t enough.

    YOU HAVE TO BE WILLING TO WORK FOR ABOLITION.

    Alexander says, THAT WE HAVE GOT TO BE WILLING TO WORK FOR THE ABOLITION OF THE SYSTEM OF MASS INCARCERATION AS A WHOLE. AND THAT MEANS ENDING THE WAR ON DRUGS ONCE AND FOR ALL.

    We have spent a trillion dollars since the war began. We spent it on locking people up instead of investing in our communities.

    WHAT CAN BE DONE?

    It’s time to shift to A PUBLIC HEALTH MODEL for dealing with drug addiction and drug abuse and stop criminalizing what is ultimately a public health problem for some.

    Have also got to END ALL THESE LEGAL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION TOWARD THOSE WHO ARE RELEASED FROM PRISON. DISCRIMINATION THAT DENIES THEM BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS.

    But last, not least, WE HAVE GOT TO SHIFT FROM A PURELY PUNATIVE APPROACH FOR DEALING WITH VIOLENCE AND VIOLENT CRIME IN OUR COMMUNITIES TO A MORE REHABILITATIVE AND RESTORATIVE APPROACH. ONE THAT TAKES SERIOUSLY THE INTEREST OF THE VICTIM, THE OFFENDER AND THE COMMUNITY AS A WHOLE.

    So, we have got a lot of work to do.

    The current system rests on one core belief, some of us are not worthy of….

    THE MOVEMENT MUST BE MULTI-RACIAL, MULTI-ETHNIC, HUMAN RIGHTS ORIENTED.

    A GREAT AWAKENING MUST OCCUR MOVING AWAY FROM THIS “COLORBLIND SOCIETY” TO THE REALITIES OF RACE IN AMERICA AND EMBRACE THOSE LABELED ‘CRIMINALS’ — Not necessarily their behavior, but their Human-ness.

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