Last Updated 26 Jan 2021

Discrimination of African Americans in Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow

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The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander, is a book about the discrimination of African Americans in today's society. One of Alexander's main points is the War on Drugs and how young African American males are targeted and arrested due to racial profiling. Racial profiling, discrimination, and segregation is not as popular as it used to be during the Civil War, however, Michelle Alexander digs deeper, revealing the truth about our government and the racial scandal in the prison systems.

She writes, "… in major cities wracked by the drug war, as many as 80 percent of young African American men now have criminal records and are thus subject to legalized discrimination for the rest of their lives. These young men are part of a growing undercaste, permanently locked up and locked out of mainstream society. (Alexander pg. 7)" In our nation today, we hardly think of discrimination as being a big issue, but Alexander shows that our prison systems are proof of discrimination.

Other studies help support this by saying that, "African Americans make up 57 percent of the people in state prisons for drug offenses. " This colorblindness has become a part of our daily lives. We can not see how much our nation is affected by racism until we stop and actually listen to those who have fallen victim of being placed in prison due to their skin color. Not only are African Americans racially profiled, they are also punished much worse than Caucasians by being sentenced longer in prisons and losing all of their rights once they are released back into society.

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As if it is not bad enough, being in prison for many years and having a felon label tattooed on their foreheads, colored people are exiled from everyday life. They can not vote, they can not buy a house, they can not work in many places, they can not have a normal life. They are looked at differently by society in turn putting them in a racial caste system, while we go about our lives over looking this mass incarceration. If I were to ask, "Is racism current in the world today?'

Many Caucasians would say no, while African Americans would say yes. This is due to the fact that we are all colorblind. The worst part of this mass incarceration is that African Americans who have been placed in prison and are now free have no voice. They are unable to protest against this terrible system because they have no rights. Thus making them go back to their old ways, because it is what they know, therefore creating a cycle of mass incarceration. So how do we as a nation stop this disgusting system?

Noel Sheppard, the Associate Editor of NewsBusters, wrote an article on Oprah Winfrey's interview with Will Gompertz from BBC on racism. Sheppard wrote that Oprah's view is that, "…it's older white people that are the problem, and once they die, racism end. " The problem with this is that families keep traditions, and they are loyal to each other, so if the grandfather is racist then his children are most likely going to be racist, so on and so forth. This is not true for all families, however it is for most.

Let us just say those points of view are a generational curse that should be stopped, but that is not the solution to stop the war on drugs and the racism that tags along. Neill Franklin, a Baltimore ex-police officer who is Executive Director of Law Enforcement against Prohibition, asked a question as he was being interviewed with Judith Brown Dianas, Co-Director of the Advancement Project by Roland Martin, "What part of our current policies of drug prohibition are working? Do we have less crime, less addiction rates, less disease, less overdose rates?"

He goes on to say, "No, none of it is working and the only solution to ending the drug war is to end the prohibition of drugs, that means legalization. " This is a good point, however, then it would be a tax issue on the drugs, and there would be more problems making bills to allow people of a certain age to use them, how much you can and can not have at one time, etc.. and then the whole racism problem would not be stopped, yet again because people are still going to abuse those privileges and African Americans will still be the primary target.

The only way to end this issue is step by step. In Michelle Alexander's conclusion, she goes on to say that, "What we need is an Underground Railroad for people coming out of our prisons to bring them back into society, instead of permanently stigmatizing and marginalizing a whole underclass numbering the millions. " I agree with her. We need to help those who are out of prison due to being victim of mass incarceration become normal, active citizens of the United states.

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