The-New-jim-crow

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ava duvernay secretly filmed a documentary about systematic racism | watch | i-D
'The 13th' has been selected as the first documentary to ever open the New York Film Festival, and makes Duvernay the first black woman to open the festival.

Somewhere in between shooting HBO fashion documentary The Battle of Versailles, her own TV series Queen Sugar, and the Disney feature A Wrinkle in Time, Ava Duvernay has filmed a secret documentary about systematic racism and the prison-industrial complex in America. The 13th, named after the 1865 constitutional amendment abolishing slavery, will open the New York Film Festival in September. It will be the first documentary to do so in the festival’s 53-year history, and the first film by a black woman to do so. The timely story is then slated for an October 7 release on Netflix and in theaters.

The film will reportedly include footage of the Civil Rights Movement, the Ku Klux Klan, Black Lives Matter activists, and interviews with leading political figures and scholars including Michelle Alexander, who wrote the 2010 book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Previous festival openers include The Walk and Gone Girl, the latter of which pulled in a whopping $369.3 million at the box office. Festival director Kent Jones told the New York Times that the decision to lead with The 13th is a testament to its storytelling power. “There’s no other answer besides the fact that it’s a great film,” he said. “It meets the moment head on. She’s redefining what the national conversation is, and doing it in a very powerful way.” X

Academics have developed complicated theories and obscure jargon in an effort to describe what is now referred to as structural racism, yet the concept is fairly straightforward. One theorist, Iris Marion Young, relying on a famous “birdcage” metaphor, explains it this way: If one thinks about racism by examining only one wire of the cage, or one form of disadvantage, it is difficult to understand how and why the bird is trapped. Only a large number of wires arranged in a specific way, and connected with one another, serve to enclose the bird and ensure it cannot escape.

What is particularly important to keep in mind is that any given wire of the cage may or may not be specifically developed for the purpose of trapping the bird, yet it still operates (together with other wires) to restrict its freedom.

—  Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow

1: Poverty, and the cycle of poverty.

This is the big one. Poverty is a social issue. The cycle of poverty — the ways that poverty itself makes it harder to get out of poverty, the ways that poverty can be a permanent trap lasting for generations — is a social issue, and a human rights issue.

2: Domestic violence, workplace harassment, and other abuse. 

See above, re: cycle of poverty. If someone is being beaten by their partner, harassed or assaulted at work, abused by their parents — and if they’re poor, and if there’s fuck-all for a social safety net — it’s a hell of a lot harder for them to leave. What’s more, the stress of poverty itself — especially inescapable, entrapped poverty – contributes to violence and abuse.

3: Disenfranchisement. 

There’s a cycle that in some ways is even uglier than the cycle of poverty — because it blocks people from changing the policies that keep the cycle of poverty going. I’m talking about the cycle of disenfranchisement.

4: Racist policing.

There’s a whole lot going on with racist policing in the United States. Obviously. But a non-trivial chunk of it is fiscal policy. Ferguson shone a spotlight on this, but it isn’t just in Ferguson — it’s all over the country. In cities and counties and towns across the United States, the government is funded, in large part, by tickets and fines for municipal violations – and by the meta-system of interest, penalties, surcharges, and fees on those tickets and fines, which commonly turn into a never-ending debt amounting to many, many times the original fine itself.

5: Drug policy and prison policy.

Four words: The new Jim Crow. Drug war policies in the United States – including sentencing policies, probation policies, which drugs are criminalized and how severely, laws banning felons convicted on drug charges from voting, and more — have pretty much zero effect on reducing the harm that can be done by drug abuse. They don’t reduce drug use, they don’t reduce drug addiction, they don’t reduce overdoses, they don’t reduce accidents or violence that can be triggered by drug abuse. If anything, these policies make all of this worse.

6: Deregulation. 

This one is really straightforward. Deregulation of business is a conservative fiscal policy. And it has a devastating effect on marginalized people. Do I need to remind anyone of what happened when the banking and financial industries were deregulated?

7: “Free” trade.

This one is really straightforward. So-called “free” trade policies have a horrible effect on human rights, both in the United States and overseas. They let corporations hire labor in countries where labor laws — laws about minimum wage, workplace safety, working hours, child labor — are weak to nonexistent. They let corporations hire labor in countries where they can pay children as young as five years old less than a dollar a day, to work 12 or even 16 hours a day, in grossly unsafe workplaces and grueling working conditions that make Dickensian London look like a socialist Utopia.

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In 1992, presidential candidate Bill Clinton vowed that he would never permit any Republican to be perceived as tougher on crime than he. True to his word, just weeks before the critical New Hampshire primary, Clinton chose to fly home to Arkansas to oversee the execution of Ricky Ray Rector, a mentally impaired black man who had so little conception of what was about to happen to him that he asked for the dessert from his last meal to be saved for him until the morning. After the execution, Clinton remarked, “I can be nicked a lot, but no one can say I’m soft on crime.”

Once elected, Clinton endorsed the idea of a federal “three strikes and you’re out” law, which he advocated in his 1994 State of the Union address to enthusiastic applause on both sides of the aisle. The $30 billion crime bill sent to President Clinton in August 1994 was hailed as a victory for the Democrats, who “were able to wrest the crime issue from the Republicans and make it their own. “The bill created dozens of new federal capital crimes, mandated life sentences for some three-time offenders, and authorized more than $16 billion for state prison grants and expansion of state and local police forces. Far from resisting the emergence of the new caste system, Clinton escalated the drug war beyond what conservatives had imagined possible a decade earlier. As the Justice Policy Institute has observed, “the Clinton Administration’s ‘tough on crime’ policies resulted in the largest increases in federal and state prison inmates of any president in American history.”

Clinton eventually moved beyond crime and capitulated to the conservative racial agenda on welfare. This move, like his “get tough” rhetoric and policies, was part of a grand strategy articulated by the “new Democrats” to appeal to the elusive white swing voters. In so doing, Clinton—more than any other president—created the current racial undercaste. He signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which “ended welfare as we know it,” and replaced it with a block grant to states called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). TANF imposed a five-year lifetime limit on welfare assistance, as well as a permanent, lifetime ban on eligibility for welfare and food stamps for anyone convicted of a felony drug offense—including simple possession of marijuana.

Clinton did not stop there. Determined to prove how “tough” he could be on “them,” Clinton also made it easier for federally-assisted public housing projects to exclude anyone with a criminal history—an extraordinarily harsh step in the midst of a drug war aimed at racial and ethnic minorities. In his announcement of the “One Strike and You’re Out” Initiative, Clinton explained: “From now on, the rule for residents who commit crime and peddle drugs should be one strike and you’re out.” The new rule promised to be “the toughest admission and eviction policy that HUD has implemented.” Thus, for countless poor people, particularly racial minorities targeted by the drug war, public housing was no longer available, leaving many of them homeless—locked out not only of mainstream society, but their own homes.

The law and order perspective, first introduced during the peak of the Civil Rights Movement by rabid segregationists, had become nearly hegemonic two decades later.

—  Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow
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The voices of many scholars, activists, journalists, political prisoners and academics on the Prison Industrial Complex. 

You can find these photos and others by clicking on our photos on Facebook (go like and share them). 

Find The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander here for more information about the prison-industrial-complex and today’s greatest fight against racism in America. 

And watch a talk about the fight against the New Jim Crow here

“Looting and Rioting”

First, people need to understand something about the “riots” in Ferguson: I get the feeling that a lot of White people are somehow thinking “Wow, those Black people just stood up in their living rooms and basically set fires to their own residences”

Not the way it works…

You know what neighborhood businesses typically get burned? The ones that aren’t Black owned. You’ve seen them — the pawn shops, the quick-marts, the pay-day loan stores, the liquor stores, the third tier rent-to-own stores…you know, the kind of stores you rarely see on every other corner in middle class White neighborhoods. In short, all the businesses endemic of profiteering and structural poverty…the same businesses that like to follow innocent Black people around in stores for no reason. The businesses that won’t hire many of the Black people living in the neighborhoods they’re profiting off of. The businesses that charge twice as much for the same goods & services that are half as expensive in White neighborhoods

THOSE are the businesses that typically get burned in impoverished neighborhoods. Now, while I’m not necessarily advocating riots, I will repeat the words of Martin Luther King Jr, I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard

Second, Other than corporate media outlets repeating what the police are telling them, I haven’t seen much hard evidence of honest to God unprovoked “rioting”…but what I have seen is lots of white police firing tear gas and rubber bullets at peaceful protesters. I’ve seen militarized police aim guns, tanks and sound cannons at unarmed civilians in their own neighborhoods. I’ve seen police not interviewing, but arresting key witnesses. I’ve seen people getting gassed in their homes—THEIR HOMES—for committing the crime of what, being Black at home?

The media goes on and on about “looting and rioting” without focusing too much on the police’s strong-arm tactics, they’re complicit in furthering the ratings meme of “unreasonably angry Black people” 

False media narratives: do the words match the facts?

The “whites only” signs may be gone, but new signs have gone up - notices placed in job applications, rental agreements, loan applications, forms for welfare benefits, school applications, and petitions for licenses, informing the general public that “felons” are not wanted here. A criminal record today authorizes precisely the forms of discrimination we supposedly left behind - discrimination in employment, housing, education, public benefits, and jury service. Those labeled criminals can even be denied the right to vote.
—  Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow
thinkprogress.org
NYPD Officers Seek To Shame Homeless Population Through Social Media Campaign
Police officers in New York City are using social media to target the homeless.

A new campaign launched by the Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA) in New York City is encouraging members of a police union, as well as their family and friends, to track “the homeless lying in our streets, aggressive panhandlers, people urinating in public or engaging in open-air drug activity, and quality-of-life offenses of every type.” The crusade comes in the midst of recent media hysteria over homeless people allegedly committing crimes, and advocates fear the campaign will exacerbate the NYPD’s crackdown on the city’s homeless population.

NYPD embraces “Jim Crow” tactics

Prison vs. Harvard in an Unlikely Debate

Inmate debate team is part of Bard College program helping give prisoners a chance for a better life.

On one side of the stage at a maximum-security prison here sat three men incarcerated for violent crimes.

On the other were three undergraduates from Harvard College.

After an hour of fast-moving debate on Friday, the judges rendered their verdict.

The inmates won.

The audience burst into applause. That included about 75 of the prisoners’ fellow students at the Bard Prison Initiative, which offers a rigorous college experience to men at Eastern New York Correctional Facility, in the Catskills.

The debaters on both sides aimed to highlight the academic power of a program, part of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., that seeks to give a second chance to inmates hoping to build a better life.

Ironically, the inmates had to promote an argument with which they fiercely disagreed. Resolved: “Public schools in the United States should have the ability to deny enrollment to undocumented students.”

Carlos Polanco, a 31-year-old from Queens in prison for manslaughter, said after the debate that he would never want to bar a child from school and he felt forever grateful he could pursue a Bard diploma. “We have been graced with opportunity,” he said. “They make us believe in ourselves.” 

Read more…

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#This constant over-policing, criminalizing of black bodies, and use of excessive force for minor non-violent “offences” (aka: existing while black) has got to stop. #It was adult white women who instigated the “altercation” with racial slurs and physical violence - and of course they have not been arrested.

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Read a new perspective. Check out our #BooksSoDiverse list! 

The realities of the New Jim Crow: The incarceration rate for African-Americans is so high that young black men without a high school diploma are more likely to go to jail than to find a job, thereby causing the breakup of families and instilling further poverty upon them.

The US has the highest incarceration rate in the world, locking up about 500 people for every 100,000 residents, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. (The US has 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s prisoners.)

The incarceration rate for African-Americans is about 3,074 per 100,000 residents, which is more than six times as high as the national average. Black men in their 20s and early 30s without a high school diploma are particularly vulnerable: with an incarceration rate of 40 percent, they are more likely to end up behind bars than in the workforce, Pew Charitable Trusts reports.

“Jails & prisons are designed to break human beings, to convert the population into specimens in a zoo - obedient to our keepers, but dangers to each other.” - Angela Davis 

Chinyere's Book Club

Hey, so I want to start a monthly book club on here. We’ll have an assigned reading for the week, and on Sundays at 9pm we’ll post individual summaries of the reading, along with any questions that we might have. We will use the hashtag #BlackTumblrBookClub to find and reply to each other’s posts. I’m really excited for this, and hope to get some participants on here, so please boost this. The book for May will be The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. Our first discussion will be on the Introduction and the first chapter on May 8th at 9:00.

Prosecutors drop dozens of cases linked to Florida cops who fantasized about executing black ‘suspects’  

More than 50 criminal cases will be dropped after four Florida police officers were fired over their racist text messages and videos.

The Broward State Attorney’s Office has already dropped 12 felony cases involving charges of burglary, cocaine possession, and aggravated assault with a firearm, reported the Sun-Sentinel.

They have also dropped 19 misdemeanor cases and one juvenile case involving at least one of the Fort Lauderdale police officers.

About 20 more cases will be dismissed, prosecutors said.

“All the defendants were black,” said Ron Ishoy, a spokesman for the state attorney’s office. “All the cases were dropped because at least one of the officers was the principal officer involved in the arrest.

”The department fired three police officers — Jason Holding, 31, James Wells, 30, and Christopher Sousa, 25 – last month, while a fourth officer, Alex Alvarez, 22, resigned in January.

Alvarez stepped down in the middle of a five-month probe that was launched by a complaint filed by his former fiancée.

An internal investigation found the four officers used racial slurs in text messages as they fantasized about executing black suspects while on duty.

“I had a wet dream that you two found those two n*****s in the VW and gave them the death penalty right there on the spot,” one officer said in a text. 

Alvarez also produced a trailer for a pro-Ku Klux Klan movie called “The Hoods,” that showed racist images of President Barack Obama and dogs biting a black man.

A public defender said the four officers were involved in 56 arrests of black and other minority suspects since the start of 2014.

(by Travis Gettys || RawStory)

Once you’re labeled a felon, the old forms of discrimination—employment discrimination, housing discrimination, denial of the right to vote, denial of educational opportunity, denial of food stamps and other public benefits, and exclusion from jury service—are suddenly legal. As a criminal, you have scarcely more 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.
—  Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow