The New Jim Crow Audiobooktext
It is clear that since the constitution of the United States of America by the Founding Fathers, African-Americans have occupied an inconvenient place in this territory. In fact, we would like them not to be there any more, or rather if they were there, but only when we needed them. the rest of the time, since despite the means employed they persist in becoming embedded, they remain the permanent victims of a racial caste system that continues to reinvent itself as soon as the current one (slavery, Jim Crow laws, segregation, etc. .) falls under the law. We were thus able to see each of these mephitic ideologies in turn prohibited until finally all discrimination was declared illegal. And there you have it, racism is over, finished, out, we’ll hear more about it, not too soon.
Unless … When in 1982 Ronald Reagan declared war on drugs, this famous “drug war” already initiated by Nixon and which he took over with an iron fist, one can easily imagine the childish satisfaction of Ronaldus Magnus, too happy to have found a new formula making it totally fall under the radars of segregationism. Because make no mistake, when Reagan talks about waging a war on drugs (drugs = crack, which moreover he did not give a damn about and which was not a major problem in the early 1980s) and criminals, this that he implies and that everyone understands is: “war on the negroes”! But nothing in his speech being racialized, it will be impossible to prove anything. And there you have it, a new racial caste system has just been put in place. Because if racial discrimination is now outlawed, discrimination against criminals is all that is legal, even better it is encouraged. Suffice it to suggest that all African-Americans (and Latinos, no jealousy) are potential criminals and here’s the job! Well done, the second-class actor!
More than to wait for it to take in public opinion and indeed, it does not drag. Politicians and media having no qualms about selling these tacit insinuations by hammering out press releases on an alleged increasing crime for which African-Americans are solely responsible (it’s in their genes, what do you expect), the endless biased images TV news and government speeches would almost make us swallow this fat snake pregnant with triplets: drug addicts = criminals = blacks.
So, without asking the slightest question, we accept the idea that a simple skin pigmentation would intrinsically change human values? the fact of having dark skin would lead to drugs, kill, steal, rape, etc?
Michelle Alexander was quick to send these nonsense crazy and take the opportunity to restore the truth in the process: what pushes most African-Americans to commit crimes is the societal constraint that places them in ghettos, denies them studies and jobs. decent, treats them like second-class citizens and whatnot, the whole ending up forming the hoped-for explosive cocktail and presto, more than to open the prisons wide and wait quietly for them to come and populate them.
As proof of what she puts forward: for an equal crime in drug trafficking and consumption, a white will hardly ever be worried, a slap on the fingers doing the trick. For a black person on the other hand, if he gets caught (or not for that matter, just suspect it and it is already good enough) he can start to say goodbye to his relatives, he is not about to see him again. daylight without bars to spoil his view.
♫ If an officer stops you
Promise me you’ll always be polite ♪ ♪
♪ ♫ And that you’ll never ever run away
Promise Mama you’ll keep your hands in sight ♫ ♫
Like police burrs hardly involving never the murder of Caucasians, the war on drugs has nothing to do with white dealers, moreover it is well specified that the scourge being above all crack, drug of African-Americans in general compared to its price more affordable, unlike cocaine being rather reserved for whites, it is fairly well tolerated in the American legal system. But hey, calm down, it’s surely a coincidence.
In conclusion, The New Jim Crow Audiobook is a solid, thoughtful study backed by verified (and verifiable) statistics whose review dismantles beliefs in a system that claims to be fair and just, giving everyone a chance to go. as long as we do not deviate from the right path. Rubbish, Michelle Alexander tells us, and in view of the facts and the investigation she conducted, you have to be strong morally not to lose hope; how to fight such a system? Will minorities therefore always have to be fooled?
To be read in parallel with “13th”, a fabulous documentary by Ava DuVernay (which must be seen absolutely) and which includes archive images and illustrious speakers in support (Michelle Alexander of course, Angela Davis, van Jones, Bryan Stevenson, etc …), all the truths enumerated and supported in this admirable essay, a true manifesto for the overhaul of an entire detestable and criminal penal system with which it is high time to put an end to it!
A human rights nightmare is unfolding before our eyes
In her introduction, Michelle Alexander points out, among other things, “new tactics have been used to achieve the same goals the Founding Fathers had already set for themselves. For the latter, it was fundamental to deny citizenship to African-Americans, while the original Union was being formed. Two centuries later, America is still not an egalitarian democracy ”, the extraordinary percentage of black men in the United States legally deprived of the right to vote, legalized discrimination in hiring, housing, education, social benefits, the right to be a juror … “We did not end racial castes, we simply reshaped them”. I will not discuss here the notion of caste (“In this book I use the term racial caste as it is commonly used to denote a stigmatized racial group confined to an inferior position by laws and customs. . Jim Crow and slavery were caste systems. Just like the current system of mass incarceration. ”) Which seems inadequate to me, nor of the vocabulary chosen by the author – I note that for my part I prefer to speak social relationships and their interweaving.
The author insists on the invisibility of the system put in place, on the need to establish “a link between our current system of mass incarceration and previous forms of social control. I realized quite late that mass incarceration was a racialized system of social control, both total and covert, that worked in a Jim Crow-like fashion ”. (As a possible complement, Angela Davis’s book: Is Prison Obsolete?)
War on Drugs and more specifically against Crack, “The impact of this war has been considerable. In less than thirty years, the prison population has skyrocketed from around 300,000 to over 2 million, with drug convictions responsible for most of the increase, ”the United States today the highest incarceration rate in the world, “No other country in the world imprisons its racial or ethnic minorities so much”.
Delinquency, prison sentence as “an instrument of social control”, differentiated treatment of populations, “studies show that people of all races consume and sell drugs at remarkably similar rates”, mass imprisonment … “This book advances that mass incarceration is The New Jim Crow Audiobook and that all who care about social justice should be fully engaged in the dismantling of this new racial caste system ”.
Michelle Alexander analyzes the justice system “not as an independent system but rather as a gateway into a larger system of racial stigma and permanent marginalization”, the consequences of social control, the creation and maintenance of social hierarchies, the hallmark of prison – largely independent of time spent in prison. The author traces the avenues of discussions and actions necessary to put an end to a system of racial stigmatization and permanent marginalization of a part of African-Americans.
I choose to focus on a few dimensions of this important book.
Michelle Alexander looks back on the days of slavery. She analyzes the period of Reconstruction and “the brutal reaction of the Whites”, the absence of agrarian reforms and the dismantling of large land holdings, the construction and the end of the so-called “Jim Crow” system, the adaptations of racial policies to the contexts, the birth of mass incarceration, opposition to civil rights legislation and the invocation of law and order, images of riots and “criminality” …
The author emphasizes that the “war against drug ”, besides that it mainly concerns only crack (used mainly by African-Americans, unlike cocaine more practiced among young whites) – without forgetting marijuana with very wide distribution -, covers other dimensions directly political.
Sensationalist treatment of the emergence of crack in the disadvantaged neighborhoods of city centers, politics reduced to repression, particular judicial system, media and institutional orchestration. Michelle Alexander shows that judicial practices are not neutral. In view of what is practiced on the other side of the Atlantic, I underline the proposals of some here on the penalties floors, the recidivism, the plea-guilty …
The whole repression – “imaginary varnish applied to a system of oppression and racialized and brutal control ”- requires means and police actions but also a particular judicial apparatus (severity of penalties, definition of new crimes, life imprisonment for certain repeat offenders, etc.)
Between 1980 and 2000, the number of people imprisoned increased from 300,000 to over 2 million; since 1980 over 31 million people have been arrested for drug-related offenses; at the end of 2007, more than 7 million Americans – nearly one in 30 adults – were behind bars or on parole.
The author emphasizes that the war on drugs has “violated practically all civil liberties” (how can we not draw a parallel with this same war in certain countries of Central or South America? How not to look at the consequences of the state of emergency – and more generally the “war on terrorism” waged in certain states?). It details elements in the functioning of the police (arbitrary suspicion, search without warrant, search by consent, stop-pretexts, use of minor traffic violation as evidence of arrest, profiling, quantitative approach, discretionary powers, huge subsidies, equipment…). It is legitimate to ask the question of what is at stake for the local and state police forces, of the indefinite prolongation of this “war” ensuring the means of the police forces.
The question of reproducing the system also arises for privatized penitentiary systems and the economic interest of their shareholders in their development.
Police and justice (minimum penalties, recidivism, plead guilty, notion of “innocent owner”, probation or parole, transfer of power “from judges to prosecutors”, law of “three faults”, unrecognized racial discrimination …)
Police, justice and prison. The author analyzes the consequences of going through the prison box, “a mark left by the prison and not on the time spent in prison”, Loic Wacquant quoted by the author speaks of “a closed circuit of perpetual marginality”. Michelle Alexander indicates that “violent crimes or offenses are not responsible for mass incarceration” and shows the role of police discretion.
I was particularly interested in the passages on the private and public places, the invisibility of the consumption and the sale of drugs by the Whites, the social impacts of the criminal labeling (restrictive rental contract, discriminations authorized on the basis of the criminal record, prison debt, social exile, deprivation of civil rights and therefore loss of the right to vote…), “symbolic production of race”…
Michelle Alexander details the similarities and differences between mass incarceration and the system Jim Crow, the difficulty of looking behind the “fight against drugs” and revealing the real springs of the policies carried out. She recalls that “crime” is not a generic category but always a construct and that it is necessary to analyze what it covers and masks.
The last point I want to address, and I do it with my own vocabulary, is the illusion of “indifference to skin color”. To fight social constructions, social relations of domination, institutional policies, we must simultaneously name these relations – social relations of class, sex, racization, etc. – and fight the abstract neutralization of the social marking of individuals, assume the contradiction between the desirable future and the present of domination. Human beings but also, because hierarchies are consubstantial with social relations, workers and employees, women, racialized people, etc. Impossible to bypass the words, the incorporated social, the designation marks, here the color of the skin. “Racial equality requires a complete transformation of social institutions and a radical restructuring of our economy, not superficial changes that can be bought on the cheap.” And this remains true for all dimensions of equality.
To name, by refusing the slope of essentialization, by historicizing and contextualizing the situations… “How could the we come to signify our all?
“Anote to finish. choosing to focus on American-American men, “little will be found on the particular experiences of women, Latinos and immigrants in the justice system, and this although these groups are particularly vulnerable to the worst abuses and abuses. suffering that is significant and specific. This book focuses on the experience of African-American men in the new caste system ”allows us to specify the consequences of policies against drugs or mass incarceration and their consequences. Still, talking about African-American women only in relation to the imprisonment of men, and not as such, does not fully address the “new racial segregation” but rather its only male component. This does not invalidate the major analyzes of this important book, but shows a gray area. “How could the we come to mean our all?” ”