The New Jim Crow

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Kinda seems like a one sided conversation, doesn’t it? I’m tired of “conversations on race” whenever another innocent, unarmed black person is executed by the police. They’re as perfunctory as they are repetitive.

We need justice, not another hollow conversation that doesn’t change anything and does nothing to prevent the next shooting.

(original image credit: Clay Bennett)

Fuck this narrative.

It erases disabled people. The elderly. Children.

It’s classist, ableist, racist, and just wrong.

NOBODY DESERVES TO LIVE IN POVERTY! Period.

Fuck capitalism, liberalism, and political ideas of worth and value.

1. “How is it racist?”

It’s racist due to white supremacist policies. POC make significantly less than white people. It’s a big wage gap. Redlining. Gentrification. The New Jim Crow. Systemic and institutional racism. Discrimination in hiring and promoting, housing, loans, and so forth. Whites in general owe a lot to generational wealth, something POC were long excluded from. POC often don’t get the same recognition or compensation for their work. School to prison pipeline, racist policing, unfair sentencing, the much higher percentage of Black, Indigenous, and other POC in prisons compared to their resourcing respective general population percents is a huge problem. It makes it much harder for POC to “move up the ladder,” more likely to live in poverty, and have a harder time escaping poverty. 2. Why liberalism? Because liberalism has become neoliberalism, moved farther right, become less interested in effective measures and actual justice. 3. But communism kills people and anarchism doesn’t work! Okay, I’m not going to debate this point, only say that there is enough food, housing, and other basic needs to take care of everyone. To be continued…
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This is an obvious threat to African American ex-prisoners, and the message is that the state will target and punish them with unreasonable prison sentences for voting, even while on probation.

”I don’t think I’ll ever vote again. That’s being honest. I’ll never vote again.” - Crystal Mason

This is the new Jim Crow. This is an example of how Texas disenfranchises Black voters and suppresses voter turnout.

This is why Black people are disproportionately arrested and injected into the criminal “justice” system for even the smallest infractions.

The threat of re-imprisonment is how you dissuade all Black former-prisoners from voting, “just in case.”

Can you even imagine how different the South would be - how different AMERICA would be, if so many states didn’t use the criminal justice system and prison as a means to suppress the Black vote?

A reminder that in 2013 a former Black Panther, who served 41 years in solitary confinement, died just days after a US federal judge overturned his conviction for the murder of a prison guard. Herman Wallace was freed after Judge Brian Jackson ruled his 1974 trial had been “unconstitutional” and ordered his immediate release.

Mr Wallace had been part of the Angola Three, who were originally imprisoned for robbery at the notorious Louisiana State Penitentiary, known as Angola because of its historic links to the African slave trade. The men said they were framed for the killing of a guard because of their membership of the Black Panther party and fight for the civil rights of prisoners.

Robert King, 70, a fellow member of the Angola Three released in 2001 stated: “My reaction is one of sadness for a life wasted. And when I say, wasted, I mean the society he lived in may have considered him a waste, but he helped rewrite history.“

The clock has been turned back on racial progress in America, though scarcely anyone seems to notice. All eyes are fixed on people like Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey, who have defied the odds and risen to power, fame, and fortune. For those left behind, especially those within prison walls, the celebration of racial triumph in America must seem a tad premature. More black men are imprisoned today than at any other moment in our nation’s history. More are disenfranchised today than in 1870, the year the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified prohibiting laws that explicitly deny the right to vote on the basis of race. Young black men today may be just as likely to suffer discrimination in employment, housing, public benefits, and jury service as a black man in the Jim Crow era–discrimination that is perfectly legal, because it is based on one’s criminal record.
—  Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow
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Kerrice Lewis


About quarter till 12 on a Saturday, I scrolled fast through my facebook Newsfeed as an article caught my eye, As I read each word in the headline, I felt my heart break. It read “Kerrice Lewis-Lesbian Murdered & Burned Alive- Say Her Name”

Her eyes, young like mine, I saw myself in her. A Black queer young woman. She not much older than I. “…just days after Christmas, in Washington DC” I felt my throat tighten, and my stomach knotted up. As today is only the 6th day in the New Year, I was confused and distraught. I had been reading post about love, unity, turning over new leafs in 2018- yet this article proved to me that people have not aimed to break our own fatal cycles within our communities

I read on. I read how neighbors heard her scream as she tried to escape from a trunk of a car that was lit on fire. Tears welled in my eyes. How could people be this cruel?

I like many other “woke” Black individuals often spend my time critique systematic oppression and the ways it engenders our academic, workplace environment as well as our quality of life as We have read about both segregation dejure and defacto about the genocide of black folx through the cutting off and the poisoning of resources (Flint Michigan). We have read about both old and new Jim Crow, about W E B Dubois, pan africanism, Willie Lynch, MLK, Malcolm X, black unity, black upward mobility, black love, Maya Angelou, code switching, about soul food everything “Black”.

Yet too often our lenses are pointed outward not seeking Introspection.What can we do for Us? Who is going to love us, BUT us? Who is representative of Us? Oppression has caused Black people to redefine themselves based off of projections of perceived Blackness. Blackness is portrayed as being entertainers, fried chicken, grape soda, dancing, being loud. Blackness being portrayed as hiding trauma, broke and broken families, homophobia. But like any portrayal, it contains some truth.

It’s 2018 and we as Black people are still seperating ourselves by class, by shades, by features, by clothes, by sexuality and appearance? WE are still killing each other over these things. We chant we pray we cry Black Lives Matter, but do we mean disabled black lives? LGBTQ lives? Non conventionally attractive black Lives? Fat Black lives? What about, Black lives that don’t agree with your way of life?

In 2018 I ask Black people: How far does your Black love extend and for whom?

washingtonpost.com
Perspective | How New York City became the capital of the Jim Crow North
Racial injustice is not a regional sickness. It's a national cancer. August 23, 2017.

Jim Crow segregation and racism had a strange and robust career outside of the South, especially in that supposed bastion of liberalism, New York City. Citizens at every level of New York society gave it life: journalists at national newspapers, wealthy suburban homeowners, working-class renters, university bureaucrats, police commissioners, mayors, union leaders and criminal court judges.

Many did so at the same time they condemned racism in the South. Indeed, one of the longest-standing facets of Northern racism and segregation was the constant deflection to the problems in the South. “Ultraliberal New York had more integration problems than Mississippi,” Malcolm X observed. “The North’s liberals have been for so long pointing accusing fingers at the South and getting away with it that they have fits when they are exposed as the world’s worst hypocrites.”

So this guy said to Professor Hunk, ‘White privilege is nonsense. How can I be privileged I grew up fucking poor in West Virginia. I’m an Appalachian hick. My family is on welfare.’ Right. But privilege is always relative to something else. Now imagine someone like him, as poor and as fucked up, and then make that person black. If both are caught for drug possession, say, the white guy is more likely to be sent to treatment and the black guy is more likely to be sent to jail. Everything else the same except for race. Check the stats. The Appalachian hick guy is fucked up, which is not cool, but if he were black he’d be fucked up plus. He also said to Professor Hunk: Why must we always talk about race anyway? Can’t we just be human beings? And Professor Hunk replied – that is exactly what white privilege is, that you can say that. Race doesn’t really exist for you because it has never been a barrier. Black folks don’t have that choice. The black guy on the street in New York doesn’t want to think about race, until he tries to hail a cab, and he doesn’t want to think about race when he’s driving his Mercedes under the speed limit, until a cop pulls him over. So Appalachian hick guy doesn’t have class privilege but he sure as hell has race privilege.
—  Americanah Ch. 38, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie​
The War on Drugs needs to end.
  • Over the past 40 years, the War on Drugs has cost more than $1 trillion and accounted for more than 45 million arrests.
  • In 2009 nearly 1.7 million people were arrested in the U.S. for nonviolent drug charges – more than half of those arrests were for marijuana possession alone. Less than 20% was for the sale or manufacture of a drug.
  • Even though White and Black people use drugs at approximately equal rates, Black people are 10.1 times more likely to be sent to prison for drug offenses. Today, Black Americans represent 56% of those incarcerated for drug crimes, even though they comprise only 13% of the U.S. population.
  •  Between 1973 and 2009, the nation’s prison population grew by 705 percent, resulting in more than 1 in 100 adults behind bars today. In 1980, the total U.S. prison and jail population was about 500,000 – today, it is more than 2.3 million.
  • The U.S. incarcerates more people than any country in the world – both per capita and in terms of total people behind bars. The U.S. has less than 5 percent of the world’s population, yet it has almost 25 percent of the world’s incarcerated population.
  •  It costs an average of $78.95 per day to keep an inmate locked up, more than 20 times the cost of a day on probation.

I urge everyone to watch the documentary The House I Live In. I had no idea about the class and race war that is happening in our country at this very moment. Something needs to be done, and it begins with education.

50 Books Every Black Person Should Read...
  1. Black Masculinity and the Cinema of Policing by Jared Sexton
  2. Appropriating Blackness: Performance and the Politics of Authenticity by E. Patrick Johnson
  3. Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America by Melissa V. Harris-Perry
  4. If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin
  5. The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America by Jonathan Kozol
  6. Seize The Time by Bobby Seale
  7. Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present by Harriet A. Washington
  8. Dirty Little Secrets About Black History : Its Heroes & Other Troublemakers by Claud Anderson
  9. They Came Before Columbus by Dr. Ivan Van Sertima
  10. Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
  11. The Miseducation of the Negro by Dr. Carter G. Woodson
  12. Precolonial Black Africa by Cheikh Anta Diop
  13. Black Skin White Mask by Frantz Fanon
  14. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
  15. Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty by Dorothy Roberts
  16. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
  17. Bloods: Black Veterans of the Vietnam War by Wallace Terry
  18. Not in My Neighborhood: How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City by Antero Pietila
  19. Assata by Assata Shakur
  20. Developmental Psychology of the Black Child by A N Wilson
  21. Black Labor, White Wealth : The Search for Power and Economic Justice by Claud Anderson
  22. The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
  23. Women, Race, & Class by Angela Y. Davis
  24. Christopher Columbus and the Afrikan Holocaust: The Rise of European Capitalism by Dr. John Henrik Clarke
  25. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
  26. The Hidden Rules of Race: Barriers to an Inclusive Economy by Andrea Flynn
  27. Ida: A Sword Among Lions: Ida B. Wells and the Campaign Against Lynching by Paula J. Giddings
  28. The Condemnation of Blackness by Khalil Gibran Muhammad
  29. The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B. Tyson
  30. Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire
  31. The Blueprint For Black Power by Dr. Amos Wilson
  32. PowerNomics : The National Plan to Empower Black America by Dr. Claud Anderson
  33. When Affirmative Action Was White by Ira Katznelson
  34. Annie Allen by Gwendolyn Brooks
  35. The Lynching: The Epic Courtroom Battle That Brought Down the Klan by Laurence Leamer
  36. The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes by Langston Hughes
  37. The Rise and Fall of Black Wall Street by Robin Walker
  38. Harlem: A Century in Images by Deborah Willis
  39. Slavery by Another Name by Douglas A. Blackmon
  40. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley
  41. The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein
  42. Ain’t I a Woman by bell hooks
  43. For colored girls who have considered suicide/When the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange
  44. The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois
  45. Yurugu by Dr. Marimba Ani
  46. Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E. Baptist
  47. Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
  48. The Philosophies and Teachings of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
  49. Remaking Black Power: How Black Women Transformed an Era by Ashley D. Farmer
  50. Soledad Brothers by George Jackson

Happy Black History Month!

4.5/5 Stars.

I came into this book with a pretty decent grasp on Alexander’s thesis—thanks in part to the deserved hype her work has received over the years—but found myself captivated as she connected the dots on so many different aspects of mass incarceration, the War on Drugs, Jim Crow, and the historical intersection between classism and racism.

Alexander notes in her preface that she wrote this book specifically for people who already care about racial justice, and if you’re one of those people, I urge you to read this with the promise that you will come away from it with a much more comprehensive understanding of our current racial caste system.

It’s so well-researched, so informative, and so compelling. I’ve seen some readers lament that Alexander spends parts of the second half of the book rehashing arguments from the first half, but this approach actually worked for me: by reiterating certain points throughout, she helped me better understand their context within the bigger picture.

Finally, I have to say that reading this book now—during this point in time—was especially impactful. I learned that there’s a deep history of politicians and wealthy whites exploiting white working class vulnerabilities and racial resentments in order to preserve power and deliberately driving a wedge between poor whites and poor minorities. With so much talk right now about the economic anxieties of white working class Trump voters, I came away from this book with an even deeper conviction that pandering to poor and working class whites exclusively is absolutely not the answer. Rather, we need a real movement that addresses class struggles among all races so that we don’t risk history continuing to repeat itself.