Thursday, March 17, 2011

Professor Michelle Alexander and the New Jim Crow

American Social Justice Tour
Will Stop In Chicago, Illinois
Thursday, March 17, 2011

If you are not supporting her work to keep innocent Black and Latino men out of
"you are a criminal!"

A Thursday Afternoon with
Author of "The New Jim Crow - Mass Incarceration In The Age of Color Blindness"

Thursday, March 17, 2011
4:30 PM
Roosevelt University
430 South Michigan
Chicago, Illinois
This event is FREE!
You Must RSVP: Click Here

Review by Mumia Abu-Jamal

The book, The New Jim Crow, offers an unflinching look at the US addiction to
imprisonment, and comes up with a startling diagnosis; American corporate greed,
political opportunism and the exploitation of age old hatred and fears have
congealed to create a monstrous explosion in the world's largest prison industrial
complex. Further, the author, a law professor at Ohio State University's Moritz
College of Law, Michelle Alexander, digs deep into US history, and deeper still into
US criminal law and practice to conclude that the barbarous system of repression and
control known commonly as Jim Crow, had a rebirth in this era. That's why she calls
it: The New Jim Crow.

This system of legal discrimination came into being much as the first one did. After
the rout of the South by the Civil War, millions of newly freed Africans exercised
these new rights under Reconstruction. Black men became senators and legislators
across the South. But this period was short lived, and as soon as possible, states
passed harsh laws known as Black Codes, which denied rights and criminalized
behavior by Blacks, and exposed them to the repression of southern prisons, where
convicts were leased out to labor for others; it was the rebirth of slavery by other

This present era began at the height of the US Civil Rights Movement, when millions
of Blacks fought for their rights denied for more than a century. Alexander
concludes that this new system, this new coalescence of economic and political
interests, targeted Blacks, especially those engaged in the drug industry, as the
human capital with which to provide massive construction, huge prison staffs, and
the other appendages of the apparatus of state repression.

But perhaps Alexander's most salient point is her finding that America's Black
population constitutes a 'racial caste' that feeds and perpetuates mass
incarceration [195]
Indeed, every other societal structure supports this superstructure, from broken
schools, to de-industrialization, to population concentration in isolated urban
ghettoes, to the violence of police, and the silence of the Black Middle class.

One might argue that such a claim seems unsustainable when we see a Black president,
hundreds of black political figures and those in entertainment and sports. But
Alexander explains that every system allows exceptions, for they serve to legitimize
the system and mask its ugliness and its gross effects upon the majority of Blacks.

For example, while it's well-known that apartheid was an overtly racist system, it
allowed Asian and even African American diplomats to live and work in such a regime,
by the political expediency of identifying them as "honorary whites" in their
official papers. When comparing both systems, Alexander argues that the US
imprisons more Blacks both in raw number and per capita than South Africa at the
height of apartheid!

The New Jim Crow - indeed!

Mumia Abu-Jamal (born Wesley Cook on April 24, 1954) is an American who was found
guilty of and sentenced to death for the December 9, 1981 murder of Philadelphia
police officer Daniel Faulkner. He has been described as "perhaps the best known
Death-Row prisoner in the world", and his sentence is one of the most debated today.
Before his arrest, he was an activist, radio journalist, and part-time cab driver.
He was a member of the Black Panther Party until October 1970.

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