US history class pages

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A question that I have asked myself repeatedly while reading Michelle Alexander's book The New Jim Crow is how can all of this discrimination still be possible in the twenty-first century, a century that I had viewed as one where many rights have been gained? How has this discrimination and mass incarceration not been fully eradicated? Mass incarceration uses techniques that justify its actions. In chapter 9 of The New Jim Crow, Alexander shows how history is repeating itself when comparing the old Jim Crow to the new Jim Crow in the present day. Racial castes in both centuries were each started due to the same feelings that white people felt towards African Americans, “anger and hostility.” (1) Thus gaining supporters by blaming the other race for mass corruption, “conservatives in the 1970’s and 1980’s sought to appeal to racial biases and economic vulnerabilities of poor and working class whites through racially coded rhetoric on crime and welfare.” (1)

Even though the civil rights movement achieved in sparking the idea of equality in people's minds and although we are taught in school from a young age to respect everyone and that everyone in the world is equal to each other,  discrimination in different forms, especially in our justice system, still occurs.  Alexander mentions how “school children wonder out loud how discrimination could ever have been legal in this great land of ours,” (1) and then proceeds to say, “rarely are they told that it is still legal.” (1) The thing is, is that the discrimination finds a way to hide itself from the naked eye. We can see this with voting, “formally race neutral devices were adopted to achieve the goal of an all white electorate without violating the terms of the fifteenth amendment.” (2) Although they have destroyed “race neutral devices” (2) there is still racial discrimination in voting in the present day, “less than two decades after the War on Drugs began, one in seven black men nationally had lost the right to vote, and as many as one in four in those states with the highest African American disenfranchisement rate.” (2)  The biggest way of hiding discrimination from the people is similar to how Jim Crow segregated white americans and African Americans, “water, sewer systems, and other public services that supported the white areas of town frequently did not extend to the black areas.” (2) Therefore causing separation between the races, stereotypes were easily produced about “black values and culture.” (2) Because if you don't know how it feels, if you don't experience the feeling of being treated differently based on your race, it doesn't affect you, “it also made it easier to deny or ignore their suffering.” (2)

1 comment:

  1. Hana, I really like how you point out that many of us consider the 21st century a time of great human rights gains, and yet the racial caste system persists. I also appreciate your final sentence - it sums up the concept of white privilege perfectly. - Miss Kosyla