[Marxism] The new Jim Crow
lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Mar 27 13:01:55 MDT 2012
The New Jim Crow
How the War on Drugs Gave Birth to a Permanent American
By Michelle Alexander
Ever since Barack Obama lifted his right hand and took his
oath of office, pledging to serve the United States as its 44th
president, ordinary people and their leaders around the globe have
been celebrating our nation’s “triumph over race.” Obama’s
election has been touted as the final nail in the coffin of Jim
Crow, the bookend placed on the history of racial caste in America.
Obama’s mere presence in the Oval Office is offered as proof
that “the land of the free” has finally made good on its promise
of equality. There’s an implicit yet undeniable message embedded
in his appearance on the world stage: this is what freedom looks
like; this is what democracy can do for you. If you are poor,
marginalized, or relegated to an inferior caste, there is hope for
you. Trust us. Trust our rules, laws, customs, and wars. You,
too, can get to the promised land.
Perhaps greater lies have been told in the past century, but
they can be counted on one hand. Racial caste is alive and well
Most people don’t like it when I say this. It makes them
angry. In the “era of colorblindness” there’s a nearly fanatical
desire to cling to the myth that we as a nation have “moved
beyond” race. Here are a few facts that run counter to that
triumphant racial narrative:
*There are more African American adults under correctional
control today -- in prison or jail, on probation or parole -- than
were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.
*As of 2004, more African American men were disenfranchised
(due to felon disenfranchisement laws) than in 1870, the year the
Fifteenth Amendment was ratified, prohibiting laws that explicitly
deny the right to vote on the basis of race.
* A black child born today is less likely to be raised by
both parents than a black child born during slavery. The recent
disintegration of the African American family is due in large part
to the mass imprisonment of black fathers.
*If you take into account prisoners, a large majority of
African American men in some urban areas have been labeled felons
for life. (In the Chicago area, the figure is nearly 80%.) These
men are part of a growing undercaste -- not class, caste --
permanently relegated, by law, to a second-class status. They can
be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries,
and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access
to education, and public benefits, much as their grandparents and
great-grandparents were during the Jim Crow era.
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