Class Warfare: The Truth About the New Jim Crow
The class war on the poor and the middle class has taken a turn into darkness. What was once thought of as a product of bad choices or a symptom of poverty, or even mere coincidence in the numbers, is slowly starting to resonate of truth. No longer are these truths thought of as gross exaggeration or hyperbole, by many academics. Have we approached the drug crisis incorrectly as an issue of criminality as opposed to a health issue?
“We have an incarceral and penal Marshall Plan. We need a Marshall plan on education and jobs…” Dr Cornel West. April 14, 2011 Smiley and West Podcast.
“Our criminal-justice system today undoubtedly functions much like a racial caste system. Being labeled a felon effectively strips away crucial rights from an individual, locking him or her into second-class status indefinitely, unable to vote, secure a good job or find safe and affordable housing.” Michelle
Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the age of Colorblindness.
Many fear that today we have a policy of vengeance in our criminal justice system, when we should adopt a policy of forgiveness, mercy, leniency, or proportionality. Because of this we spend almost nothing on prevention, or treatment, and spend more on incarceration. Racism doesn’t always mean use of the “N” word, but a pervasive feeling of apathy rather than the empathy of “there, but for the grace of God go I, or my brother, or my cousin.”
According to Michelle Alexander, “More African-American men are in prison or jail, on probation or parole than were enslaved in 1850, before the Civil War began.” And she offers statistics to support her thesis stating,
“The United States now has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, dwarfing the rates of nearly every developed country, even surpassing those in highly repressive regimes like Russia, China, and Iran. In Germany, 93 people are in prison for every 100,000 adults and children. In the United States, the rate is roughly eight times that, or 750 per 100,000.” Statistics also show that in some states, Black men have been admitted to prison on drug charges at rates twenty to fifty times greater than those of white men. (Human Rights Watch, Punishment and Prejudice: Racial Disparities in the War on Drugs, HRW Reports vol. 12, no. 2 [New York, 2000])”
Is that the country we want to live in; a country more oppressive than Russia, China, or Iran?
“We reap what we sow.” Is a quote from the Bible. Well, you can’t incarcerate so many people without consequence. They are the ones that get out and raise the kids, having had to survive for years in prison with an institutionalized mentality. What kind of values does that person instill in his kids, or the young people they come in contact with if upon release there are no programs to instill a sense of dignity, recovery, and hope. We must give them the ability to realistically better themselves once released.
This problem is not going to go away either. No longer can a reasonable person stand idly by and do nothing while this problem, which can no longer be called just a “Black” problem, is so pervasive. All people of poor or middle class backgrounds should stand up and pay attention. The class war is being waged on us and the rich and powerful that run this country count on us being divided by the few things that separate us. But we must not forget what unites us: We all want a better life for ourselves and our children. We all want to live the American Dream. We have to realize that the rich and powerful have united against us paying off our politicians to rape our way of life, and line their own pockets. Until we unite against them this country will never be for us (the people), and by us, but a plutocracy, ruled by oligarchs.
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