1. We live in a color-blind society.
2. One should seek to transcend race.
3. America is in a post-racial state.
4. Class is now greater than race.
These are lies told to illuminate the notion of a progressive state. We do not live in a raceless society. If anything, the question of race and its realities do exist. I remember the O.J. trial and how whites were “shocked” that blacks had such a different take on the police and criminal justice. At the time, there were discussions about how black men were singled out for police harassment and arrest; however, I do not remember a discussion about why so many black men were imprisoned. In 1995, the impact of the drug wars was not fully appreciated until 15 years later. By then, the jail population had escalated. The other thing about the O.J. trial that made it complicated was O.J’s role as a rich celebrity. In that regard, he took on the power and privilege of a white man. Furthermore, there was a sense that his marriage to a white woman and his lifestyle helped him escape his black upbringing. Thus, betraying black folks. But when he stood trial, blacks hurried to support him against the white power structure. Why? Because other blacks were also victims to the notion of white power shared in police stations. Historically, the Po Po are aligned with the KKK and racism.
Moreover, due to the escalation of violence in some black urban communities, police officers found themselves at odds with minorities living within those communities; however, the black middle class which has many of your doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc are not willing to dismiss nor allow justification for police brutality due to urban violence. The black middle class contends that those looking to be uniformed police officers do so as a sense of authority. I have read various accounts in which academics have documented greater abuse by police officers toward the black middle class, than those living in gang plagued areas. It is sad to think that I am in my mid 30s and would rather trust a gang banger, pimp, and drug pusher than a cop. I suspect many blacks would agree. Though I have never been in any trouble, I have dealt with my share of over zealous cops.
As noted by the author of this work:
“Jarvious Cotton’s great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Klu Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation; his father was barred by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole.”
As the United States celebrates the nation’s “triumph over race” with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of young black men in major American cities are locked behind bars or have been labeled felons for life. Although Jim Crow laws have been wiped off the books, an astounding percentage of the African American community remains trapped in a subordinate status–much like their grandparents before them. In this incisive critique, former litigator-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander provocatively argues that we have not ended racial caste in America: we have simply redesigned it. Alexander shows that, by targeting black men and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of color blindness. The New Jim Crow challenges the civil rights community–and all of us–to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.