90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
A New Era Of Jim Crow?

Beyond Trayvon Martin, Michelle Alexander argues that mass black incarceration has created a new era of Jim Crow.

In this Oct. 27, 2011 photo, a deputy passes a line of inmates, as seen during a tour of the Men's Central Jail, run by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, in downtown Los Angeles. (AP)

In this Oct. 27, 2011 photo, a deputy passes a line of inmates, as seen during a tour of the Men's Central Jail, run by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, in downtown Los Angeles. (AP)

The case of young Trayvon Martin and his death in Florida have tuned the country into issues of race and justice like no other event in years.  Issues of power and presumption, of life and death.  Legal scholar Michelle Alexander takes a breathtaking leap beyond the Martin case, to American justice writ large.

American prisons, she says, are jammed with black men cut off from the rights of full citizenship.  Their mass incarceration, she says, is now the heart of a racial caste system in America.  Right now, her book is flying off the shelves.

This hour, On Point:  we’ll talk with Michelle Alexander about what she calls “the new Jim Crow.”

-Tom Ashbrook

 

Guests

Michelle Alexander, civil rights lawyer and legal scholar, she’s the author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times “Garry McCarthy, a 30-year veteran of law enforcement, did not expect to hear anything too startling when he appeared at a conference on drug policy organized last year by an African-American minister in Newark, where he was the police director.”

South Florida Times “Ohio State University Professor Michelle Alexander came to South Florida to discuss her groundbreaking book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness, but in her talk to a standing-room-only audience at Books & Books in Coral Gables, she touched on the recent shooting death of Miami Gardens teenager Trayvon Martin.”

Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository “In the last decade, a number of scholars have called the American criminal justice system a new form of Jim Crow. These writers have effectively drawn attention to the injustices created by a facially race-neutral system that severely ostracizes offenders and stigmatizes young, poor black men as criminals.”

Excerpt: The New Jim Crow

Use the navigation bar at the bottom of this frame to reformat the excerpt to best suit your reading experience.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • wauch

    Privatization, Privatizrion, Privatization! Folks found out almost as profitable and inefficient as Military Industrial Complex!

    • Victor Vito

      You are SO right on this.  In my area, deputies start at $20/hr with great benefits and lots of training.  They serve as jailers in some of the counties in my state.  “CO’s” (corrections officers) start at half the wage with less than half the training and benefits.  Sometimes, you get what you pay for!  Not suprising in a country that demands medicine remain a for profit industry that we let the profit motive drift into other areas.

      • Hidan

         Ma. CO start around 15$ a hour. In CA. it was quite interesting a report came out how as the Prison lobby in the 90′s started lobbying for more tough on crime the pay near double from making around 30k a year to 50/60k. Also the prison lobby lobbied for bills that made it harder to get parole, community service and deny any benefits once out of prison and created the 3 strikes law. Which swelled the prisons so much that CA is going bankrupt with the cost.

    • http://functionalculture.blogspot.com Constructive_Feedback

      Privatization?   Really?

      There are ONLY 130K prisoners in Privately Run Prisons – out of a base of 2,000,000 people incarcerated in the USA.

      How is it that the mode by which 6.5% of the total prison population is detailed be so troubling to you – that is unless actual proportions and facts don’t matter as much as emotionalism?http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2011/09/26/328486/us-private-prison-population-lobbying/?mobile=nc 

  • Anonymous

    Slavery is alive and well in America.  The drug war is a massive failure.  For each black male incarcerated, at least two generations of African Americans are lost to poverty and crime.  Middle class whites can consume recreational drugs with impunity.  For African Americans, these drugs become both a currency and a pathway to slavery.  Shame on us!  End this war.

    Thank you for covering this.

    • http://functionalculture.blogspot.com Constructive_Feedback

      Slavery?
      Clearly you have no respect for the institution of SLAVERY that you would use such a reference.

      (As A Black Male) I wonder if you would be so conscious as to have the Black Community weigh the NEED of where we NEED our people to be focused upon and suggest that WE express the audacity to enforce an “over the top” suppression of drug use WITHIN our community, thus channeling our human resources into a focused, disciplined set of actions – commensurate with the EMERGENCY?

      OR are you content with Black people agreeing with YOU that “The system is stacked against US” and thus we should “Vote Our Way Into Salvation” in the perpetual struggle to fix “the system”?

      What YOU read as me “Blaming The Victim” I see as “What do WE need to do to make our way through, via strength, through to more favorable outcomes?”.

      • Anonymous

        If I get arrested for possession as a youth and do my time or agree to probation, I am relegated to a lifetime of sub-human conditions.  Doors close on jobs.  Doors close on housing and education assistance.  If  I had a family they are gone and broken.  I do not have access to the safety net that others do (food stamps/welfare).  Getting a government guaranteed student loan or SBA loan is out of the question. So in order to elevate my status, I am highly likely to do more non-violent crimes (distribute drugs etc.) or I do drugs to deal with the misery. 

        If I am white, the probability that I will get caught is Sooooooooooo low that I don’t run the same risk and life is good.  I happen to be white and let us say that I enjoy  recreational drugs on occassion.   I have no fear of getting caught.  I’m not dealing to survive.

        Blacks are trapped in slavery today.  The war on drugs guarantees that you are many times more likely to get stopped and caught.  The cards are stacked.

        • http://functionalculture.blogspot.com Constructive_Feedback

          bmchan:

          I can’t FORCE you to drop the loaded word “Slavery”.
          The ONLY thing that I can do to dislodge you from this (Progressive) bigoted disposition is to go to REAL “American Slavery” to set the reference and then make note of how much YOUR argument falls flat on its face.
          Is it ironic that I – a Black man – who is able to write this rebuttal of your argument – has been taught to read and write as it is no longer illegal to do so?

          Ultimate there is no COST to you in the real world to remain in your bigoted position.

  • Anonymous

    * Just as it was impossible to prevent alcohol from being produced and used in the U.S. in the 1920s, so too, it is equally impossible to prevent any of the aforementioned drugs from being produced, distributed and widely used by those who desire to do so. 

    * Prohibition kills more people and ruins more lives than the drugs it prohibits.

    * Due to Prohibition (historically proven to be an utter failure at every level), the availability of most of these mood-altering drugs has become so universal and unfettered that in any city of the civilized world, any one of us would be able to procure practically any drug we wish within an hour.

    * Throughout history, the prohibition of any mind-altering substance has always exploded usage rates, overcrowded jails, fueled organized crime, created rampant corruption of law-enforcement – even whole governments, while inducing an incalculable amount of suffering and death. 

    * Apart from the fact that the DEA is the de facto enforcement wing of the pharmaceutical industry, the involvement of the CIA in running Heroin from Vietnam, Southeast Asia and Afghanistan, and Cocaine from Central America has been well documented by the 1989 Kerry Committee report, academic researchers Alfred McCoy and Peter Dale Scott, and the late journalist Gary Webb.

    * It’s not even possible to keep drugs out of prisons, but prohibitionists wish to waste trillions of dollars in an utterly futile attempt to keep them off our streets.

    * The United States jails a larger percentage of it’s own citizens than any other country in the world, including those run by the worst totalitarian regimes, yet it has far higher use/addiction rates than most other countries.

    * Prohibition is the “Goose that laid the golden egg” and the lifeblood of terrorists as well as drug cartels. Both the Taliban and the terrorists of al Qaeda derive their main income from the prohibition-inflated value of the opium poppy. An estimated 44 % of the heroin produced in Afghanistan, with an estimated annual destination value of US $ 27 Billion, transits through Pakistan. Prohibition has essentially destroyed Pakistan’s legal economy and social fabric. We may be about to witness the planet’s first civil war in a nation with nuclear capabilities. – Kindly Google ‘A GLOBAL OVERVIEW OF NARCOTICS-FUNDED TERRORIST GROUPS’ Only those opposed or willing to ignore these facts want things the way they are.

    * The future depends on whether or not enough of us are willing to take a long look at the tragic results of prohibition. If we continue to skirt the primary issue while refusing to address the root problem then we can expect no other result than a worsening of the current dire situation. – Good intentions, wishful thinking and pseudoscience are no match for the immutable realities of human nature.

    * Many important advancements in human society (even the reasonable requirement that gynecologists wash their hands before examining a patient) have been vehemently resisted by unconscionable, selfish individuals who were willing to use outright mendacity, specious logic and fear mongering to sacrifice the well-being of the rest of us.

    Never have so many been endangered and impoverished by so few so quickly!

    • aj

      I read the whole bit.  Every line was worth it. Thank you.

    • JustSayin

      Agreed, the only important aspect you missed is the international money laundering and profit processing by banks. For many banks it’s their core business. The war on drugs is code for multinational banking profits, and through lobbying keep the war going.

    • Robert Riversong

      “It’s not even possible to keep drugs out of prisons”

      As if they try. The old sheriff, Red McQuade, who once ran the little county jail in Greenfield MA as his fiefdom (he lived in the complex with his wife in a free apartment and his nephew was employed there), had the “trustees” growing marijuana between the corn rows on the work farm in return for a personal cut that they could sell in the jail while he would reap the bulk of the profits from this “sideline”.

  • William

    I would say it is more lack of wealth or status than skin color. If you are rich or “connected” the chances are you won’t be punished as severe as someone with no wealth or not “connected”.

    • Anonymous

      You are correct, but I believe that this reality is no coincidence or accident.

    • Ayn Marx 666

      …but if you make it much less likely that you will be rich or connected if you’re not white….

      And I think the level of wealth and status have to be higher for (at least) black people before they reap the same benefit—I am a scruffy upper-middle-class dirty-white person; if I were black, I would be much more neatly dressed and groomed, for my safety’s sake.

      • William

        Depends where you live. If in a major black city like Detroit, DC, etc…most likely not.

    • Robert Riversong

      It’s both, but it’s a fact that blacks are far more likely than whites of the same social class to be arrested, charged, convicted, and given harsh sentences.

  • AJ

    If the U.S. wouldn’t have exported the majority of it’s manufacturing jobs overseas due to the false promises of the ”Free Trade” myth (NAFTA, CAFTA, GATT, WTO),

    then the majority of these young men would be working in factories, making a good living, supporting themselves and their families, and making a positive contribution to society, instead of being incarcerated and wards of the state.

    • FIRE IT UP

      Actually, if the unions hadn’t priced themselves out of the market with their rediculous work rules designed to turn one job into three, thus driving up the cost to manufacture products, and struck until they obtained rediculous wages and benefits, we would still have the jobs.  The only place where unions dominiate is in government service, a model of efficiency.  NOT!

      • AJ

        You bring up some good points, however the passage of the treasonous free trade acts under both Democratic and GOP presidencies has far more to do with the gutting of America’s middle class and subsequent explosion of America’s prison population, due to the lack of good jobs.

      • Robert Riversong

        Actually government-run medical insurance is far more efficient than privately-run insurance (and far less expensive).

        When Toyota opened its first car factory in America, in a non-union state, it paid its workers the exact same wages and benefits that union workers were getting, and it was enormously profitable, quickly becoming the #1 car company in the world. 

        So, clearly, the problem with the US manufacturing sector is not union wages and benefits, but poor design, poor marketing, poor administration, excessive executive salaries and bonuses – as well as the ever-increasing cost of health care for both current and retired employees due to the inefficiencies of the private, for-profit health insurance and health care industry.

        As with everyone looking through the right-wing side of the mirror, you’ve got everything backwards.

  • JustSayin

    The incarceration industry and its lobbyists do everything they can to make incarceration easy. Everything is a felony now, and got to keep that “war on drugs” going… Lots, and lots of subsidies for the incarceration business.

    If you abuse drugs and you don’t have a prescription, then you go to jail. If you abuse drugs, and you have a prescription (The Get out of jail card — and the vast bulk of the USA drug problems), then you’re receiving medical care.
       

    • Robert Riversong

      Except in CA where you can have a prescription for medical marijuana and still get busted by the DEA.

  • Gregg

    You guys can waller in this divisive crap without me. Have at it.

    • Anonymous

       Dude, these are your tax dollars at work. Maybe you’d like to learn something about a failed policy that only weakens America socially and financially. Prohibition can not work: never has, never will – its human nature. We have the largest prison population in the world… and look at who we’re not putting in jail. Wall Street Speculators who knowingly sold Liars Loans by the train-load to pensions and 401k’s… brought the world economy to its knees, left millions destitute, life’s savings gone, homes gone, hope gone….

      Drug abuse by white America is higher than black Americ yet look at the prison population. Look at the conviction rates…and this isn’t racism?

      Perhaps if you cared what your tax dollars are really doing, we’d have the basis for starting to reduce our national debt with real solutions to real problems, not divisive, hate-mongering rhetoric spewing from the mouths of our Republican candidates designed to demonize everyone except members of the GOP.

    • d clark

      This “crap” is very real Gregg but you just don’t want to look at it. Oh, and the word is “wallow”.

    • Hidan

       We’re miss your thoughtful and insightful comment. Without you how would we know what Rush L thinks or the daily talking points from Fox News?

  • aj

    I’m getting a whiff of left/right consensus on this issue, which leads me to believe this is a top/down thing. But of course, the only people who could afford blow in the early eighties was the TOP 1% until Reagan’s CIA started pumping Colombian Gold through LAX using the Contra’s.
     
    Streets plush with cheap coke -cut and cook it up- now you got even cheaper crack on the corner. 
     
    By total coincidence, Mr and Ms Reagan declare a ‘war on drugs’ with harsher sentences for crack than coke, though they are the same. Only difference being, that in the hood poor people can only afford crack, while just a 15 minute train ride away in the upper east side they can afford the powder cocaine.
     
    Whatever happened to LBJ’s war on poverty? Did that get snuffed when MLK bled out? Lest we forget that war was on ALL poverty, my red sisters on the rez, as well as my honky tonk brothers in Appalachia.
     
    We gave that a shot for about 2 years.  This war on drugs has been going for more than 40 years!… since Nixon?
     

  • Unsanitorial

    Excellent comments on the drug war(s) and incarceration industry this morning. Even William describes classism as a contributing cause. Gregg lives way, way out in the country and even his dogs and cats are pure White. How can a guy in the music industry be so oblivious to racism? Just because the  side men can now stay at the same motel doesn’t mean it’s Jake.

  • Hidan

    Could Tom or guest speak to the fact that Ma. is trying to push the 3 strikes law that nearly bankrupted Ca.? At the same time there’s talk of denying Miranda rights for some crimes.

    • JustSayin

       Crime in the US is actually down, so the incarceration industry is seeking more bodies for profit.  I saw this this weekend (is there a rational way of accessing these cases) Need to Know: http://video.pbs.org/video/2217571818

      Hey even Texas is trying it.

      • Hidan

        CA and TX are going one way and Ma. I missed the part if this prison was own by the state or privately own? AZ is another state going the opposite way than even TX. From what I listen too it seems much like what Ca is trying to do. It also seems the only thing critics have against what TX is doing is being a softy.

        What’ interesting on the Radio Boston a few weeks back with the state politician arguing about pushing the 3 strikes law said he wanted to do so to protect us against the high crime and the host said that crime has actually gone down. Cause him to mumble about it saving taxpayers money.

        • JustSayin

          It was suspiciously absent. I bet it was a public prison that was closed, and the remainder moved to privatized internment.

          Also, since the congressional revocation of Habeas corpus, they can incarcerate anyone – even if no crime is committed. No need to incarcerate troublesome violent criminals anymore… anyone will do. Political prisoners would seem to be the new incarceration product.

      • TFRX

        Tangent: Crime is down, but we don’t see that on the evening news. Great way to make people who’ve never heard of “privatized prisons” excessively afraid of things.

        • JustSayin

           Yeah. Fear is a huge money maker. I also saw this: http://video.pbs.org/video/2217365682

          Politicians who get paid with campaign contributions aren’t going to discuss The incarceration industry, as long as they pony up the cash.

  • Hidan

    Worth noting as prisons(majority) are privatize the profit need to keep prisons grows. NPR had a 3 part series on how Bail Bondsman lobbied effectively to denies people bail for non-violent crimes to the point of costing the states 3/4/5x the cost of paroling the person(even with an band/tracker). The police department have been militarizing is another factors, the lack of the media to tackle inherent racism by many police department is another, the immunity for prosecutor to charge people not base on being guilty but based on having an winning record. 

    Much of the above is allowed cause of the “code of blue” in which other officers look the other way when officers break the law. Politicians trying to be tough on crime and accepting lobbying dollars from people who profit from incarcerating others. The code of blue side-effect is that minority communities are aware of this and don’t trust the police. Don’t forget how Cops often without recourse are allow to trump up charges and get poor minorities to plea out for crimes they didn’t commit.

    Than we have the courts were (documented) that if an white and an black committed the same crime the black often faces an tougher sentences. Also folks with the false belief that the vast majority of Police aren’t corrupt in there own right claiming it’s an small pocket yet know full well about the “Code of Blue” which in itself would hide much of it.

    If anyone hasn’t watched I recommend watching MSNBC “Lock-Up”

  • Hidan

    2 more things.

    -Drug Dealing is pure expression and example of laissez faire and Reaganomics in it’s purest form, it survival of the fittest and supply side economics . On one hand Reagan promoted the fail “war on drugs” and the other hand Reagan ideals laissez faire views where taken in the drug dealing community where many dealers adapted CEO mind sets in forming there empires. “Gangland” has some great examples of this.  This and the inherent racism and militarization of the police department keeps the demand high for such drugs and an ample supply of workers.

    -Often times states who pass laws denying the prisoners/felons the right to vote can allow count those same prisoners in it’s census that can give area’s congressman that normally wouldn’t have them so it distorts.

    • aj

      Good stuff.

    • William

      Is the ”War on Drugs” any different than the “War on Poverty”? Both of these are government run programs that suck up greater amounts of taxpayer funding but don’t work very well.  

      • aj

        I’m curious on your take William. We seem somewhat more compatible on this issue.

        I would contend that the parts of the war on poverty that were geared toward elderly has and continues to work pretty good. Medicare, medicaid for nursing home care, subsidized mortgage rates leading to home equity and security in retirement,even food stamps. 

        And because the elderly are a strong voting bloc and dare I say it predominately white, we have not only continued but strengthend these programs.

        But the part of the program that was designed at appalachia, the reservations and the urban working class neighborhoods; like the OEO run by Sarge Shriver were starved of funding almost immediately after they began.

        First due to Vietnam eating a hole in the budget and then Nixon came in and had Rumsfeld and a young Dick Cheney -fresh from 5 draft deferrments- kill the baby in its cradle. 

        Couple that with elitist trade policies ( In 1964 90% of textiles were made in the USA and in 2008 5% of textiles are made in the USA) and Reagan’s poisonous rhetoric.

        As well as the culmination of Clinton virtually eliminating welfare altogether, and I would suggest that the last 40 years have really been about a war on the war on poverty.

        • William

          We have more people living in poverty, which is similar to being in jail, than ever before, despite trillions of dollars wasted on the “War on Poverty”. The “War on Drugs” has spent huge sums of money too, but we still have a huge drug problem. The major similarity is these are both government run programs. So is the government just too inept to solve these two problems? Was it Reagan’s “poisonous rhetoric or the MSM’s poisonous rhetoric about Reagan?

          • aj

            I really do agree with you on the inept government issue. Particularly the federal government, when it comes to domestic policing and domestic welfare.

            The state and local would be more effective.  But our tax structure is flawed then. 

            The bulk of taxes go to the Federal government, when they should go to the state capitals.  Thus we end up with endless wars and empire as well as impotent but expensive welfare programs administered in Washington.

            On the media being to hard on Reagan, I would whole heartedly dis agree with you. 

            The media was much harder on Carter, who was a man of principle and virtually a scandal free term in office.

            While Reagan who violated the constitution and should have been impeached (IranContra) really got by on his Hollywood spin. The press core fell for that, which is very telling.

            Any way, thanks for the feedback.

          • Robert Riversong

            Carter was not only the most honest but also the most prophetic president America ever had. He warned us that the blind pursuit of personal material affluence was killing the spirit of America and would ultimately bankrupt us, morally and financially.

            But, since that was a warning that few were willing to hear, we dismissed Carter’s value and then hired a man who sold us on the myth of American exceptionalism and did, ultimately, drive us to ruin.

          • aj

            So true. I asked you in an above post your opinion on Carter and then I scrolled down a little and you had done just that already. lol

          • Robert Riversong

            “Was it Reagan’s “poisonous rhetoric or the MSM’s poisonous rhetoric about Reagan?”

            Reagan continues to rank among the most loved presidents precisely because the MSM and the right-wing propaganda machine (mostly one and the same) re-wrote Reagan’s history to fit his rhetoric rather than his actions.

            Reagan drastically increased the size of government, tripled the national debt, attempted to kill the last vestiges of republican civic virtue – that we each have a responsibility to the common weal, and he set the stage for  the inevitable 2008 economic crash that has robbed the American Dream from the people.

          • William

            JFK is ranked pretty high due to the massive coverup of his failed Vietnam War policy, his never ending cheating on his wife, addicted to drugs.

        • Ayn Marx 666

          Nixon inherited the schemes and _wanted_ them gone, but knew that he couldn’t get rid of them completely, so settled for their enfeeblement.

          Who can blame him?—once people aren’t as afraid and/or ashamed, they start to act as if they had rights.

          • aj

            Well said. 

      • Ayn Marx 666

        I have to disagree on the ‘War’ on Poverty: many places around the world, the poorest and most despised _routinely_ die of starvation and exposure—it still happens here, and of course many would like it to happen more often, but our grudging acceptance of some aspects of civilisation has in fact had a positive effect.

        • William

          The results are what matter and to continue this “War on Poverty” with the same people running the show will just give us the same poor results. The “War on Drugs” has put a lot of people in jail, but we are still faced with a huge drug problem. It would appear that government or the people in government are just to inept to solve these two problems.

          • Robert Riversong

            Not inept, and it’s not just the outcome which matters since the outcome is mostly determined by the motives and methods.

            We don’t need a “war” on poverty any more than a “war” on drugs – it’s not only the wrong metaphor and mindset, but they are both designed to fail their ostensible purpose and serve a much more insidious purpose.

    • Ayn Marx 666

      More generally, we can’t get rid of recreational drugs because their basic model—’Buy something, consume it, and you’ll feel better,’—is that of the rest of the economy…except that drugs, at least at first, actually deliver pleasure more dependably than appliances, cloths, make-up and gimmicks.  (And I’m looking at you, beer, wine, vodka, and caffeine—legal status is meaningless to a body’s biochemistry.)

      • aj

        lol. All kidding aside your comments are sharp.

        • aj

          I meant that as a compliment.

  • aj

    “I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol,” Mr. Robertson said in a recent interview. “I’ve never used marijuana and I don’t intend to, but it’s just one of those things that I think. This war on drugs just hasn’t succeeded.”"It’s completely out of control, Prisons are being overcrowded with juvenile offenders having to do with drugs. And the penalties – the maximums – some of them could get 10 years for possession of a joint of marijuana. It makes no sense at all.”"We here in America make up 5% of the world’s population, but we make up 25% of jailed prisoners….We have now over 3,000 – the number must be might higher than that – but over 3,000 federal crimes, and every time the liberals pass a bill – I don’t care what it involves – they stick criminal sanctions on it. They don’t feel there is any way people are going to keep a law unless they can put them in jail.”-Pat Robertson” Instead of a war on poverty,They got a war on drugs,So the police can bother me. I’m tryin to make a dollar out of fifteen cents
    It’s hard to be legit and still pay tha rent
    And in the end it seems I’m headin for tha pen
    I try and find my friends, but they’re blowin in the wind
    You know it’s funny when it rains it pours
    They got money for wars, but can’t feed the poor
    Say there ain’t no hope for the youth and the truth is
    it ain’t no hope for tha future
    And then they wonder why we crazy
    I blame my mother, for turning my brother into a crack baby
    We ain’t meant to survive, cause it’s a setup
    And even though you’re fed up
    Huh, ya got to keep your head up “-Shakur

  • aj

    Stupid Disqus!”I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol,” Mr. Robertson said in a recent interview. “I’ve never used marijuana and I don’t intend to, but it’s just one of those things that I think. This war on drugs just hasn’t succeeded.”"It’s completely out of control, Prisons are being overcrowded with juvenile offenders having to do with drugs. And the penalties – the maximums – some of them could get 10 years for possession of a joint of marijuana. It makes no sense at all.”"We here in America make up 5% of the world’s population, but we make up 25% of jailed prisoners….We have now over 3,000 – the number must be might higher than that – but over 3,000 federal crimes, and every time the liberals pass a bill – I don’t care what it involves – they stick criminal sanctions on it. They don’t feel there is any way people are going to keep a law unless they can put them in jail.”-Pat Robertson” Instead of a war on poverty,They got a war on drugs,So the police can bother me. I’m tryin to make a dollar out of fifteen cents
    It’s hard to be legit and still pay tha rent
    And in the end it seems I’m headin for tha pen
    I try and find my friends, but they’re blowin in the wind
    You know it’s funny when it rains it pours
    They got money for wars, but can’t feed the poor
    Say there ain’t no hope for the youth and the truth is
    it ain’t no hope for tha future
    And then they wonder why we crazy
    I blame my mother, for turning my brother into a crack baby
    We ain’t meant to survive, cause it’s a setup
    And even though you’re fed up
    Huh, ya got to keep your head up “-Shakur

    • BEEZ

      You should have added another poignant line
      “although it seems heaven sent, we aint ready, to see a black president”

  • aj

    I give up. I tried to organize it, but the thing keeps arranging it on me. SORRY.

  • aj

    For those who bring up the Moynihan report, I see your Moynihan and raise you the Kerner Commission report 1968.

  • TomK in Boston

    The far right agenda is to destroy our middle class society and take us back in time to a 19′th century “gilded age” of oligarchs, or even earlier when it comes to science vs superstition. So, it stands to reason that Jim Crow should return, along with child labor, chain gangs, unregulated food, air and water, private roads, private police and fire, etc. At least there should be growing job opportunities for butlers, maids, gardeners, drivers, security guards, etc.

    • aj

      I heard some crazy stories about the gilded age that the armories that most cities have were not there for invading foreigners but were controlled by the oligarchs and to be used in case the proletariat rose up.

      • Anonymous

        If you want a good idea of what it was like there was an excellent documentary on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory which had a horrific fire in 1911.
        Over a hundred people died in this fire most of them women and some as young as 14.
        The workers in this factory were also the instigators of a garment workers strike that spawned the union for them. Unfortunately they did not benefit from the strike and the fire was a direct result of this. The police were sued to arrest the striking women as were thugs. Most were beaten and a lot of them ended up in a work house. 

        http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/triangle/

        I would also look up Convict Leasing in the South, which was a way to use the same labor that was freed by the Civil War as labor to fuel the industry and agriculture of the South from 1870 through to the 1940′s.

        http://www.pbs.org/tpt/slavery-by-another-name/themes/convict-leasing/

        http://libcom.org/library/rooted-slavery-prison-labor-exploitation

        • aj

          Thanks. Sounds like those girls were people that should be honored as american heroes.

          Instead, I had to read a copy of Howard Zinn to learn about things like this. But I haven’t heard about the Triangle Factory , I’ll check it out.

          • TomK in Boston

            You mean those envious, entitled class warfare girls?

        • Esnyder1288

          yes! That doc is on Netflix streaming and its an amazing story of exploitation of immigrants

        • TomK in Boston

          Maybe we’ll have “citizen leasing”  for average Americans to get health care by volunteering to be slaves for the Romney types.

        • Robert Riversong

          Convicts, like plantation slaves, are “owned” by their masters, and can be leased like any property.

          It is telling that the slave Dred Scott (who eventually sued for his freedom and was turned down by the US Supreme Court in its infamous 1857 decision), was purchased by an Army Surgeon and taken to several states or territories where slavery was illegal, and yet leased out when his owner was away on a mission.

          The practice never ended with emancipation, but was transferred to the prison slavery system.

      • Tina

        And the right to bear arms came out of the desire by slave owners to enlist poor whites to chase down escaped slaves not owned by the enlisted militia men. To give teeth to this, the south wanted the militia to be able to own their own guns. All the slaves wanted was their freedom.

      • Robert Riversong

        It wasn’t just done in the “gilded age”. When extreme right-wing Governor Meldrim Thomson ran New Hampshire like his fiefdom, and the Clamshell Alliance organized an occupation of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant construction site in 1977, 1414 people were arrested and held in National Guard armories for 14 days.

        The next year, when the Clamshell Alliance had 6,000 people trained in non-violent direct action coming to Seabrook, Thomson asked the federal government for tactical nuclear weapons to prevent this “proletariat” uprising (he was denied, and when the state realized they couldn’t arrest us all, they relented and gave us free access to the site for the weekend).

        • aj

          Lol. President Carter was a good POTUS. Not perfect but he bested any others I have studied. Do you agree?

          Your posts are all chalked full of information, and I commend you.

  • Bart

    The Knee-Jerk reaction is : Blame the “right wing,” blame the Republicans.Yet one of our only politicians who calls our “War on Drugs” racist, and THE ONLY one running for president , is RON PAUL , NOT Obama !

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

     Please do explain how the basic responsibility isn’t on the individuals committing the crimes.  We’re not talking about people who are put in prison for their political or religious beliefs.  I agree that many so-called drug crimes shouldn’t be crimes at all, but given that such things are currently illegal, the person who uses the drug is responsible for the action.

    • Robert Riversong

      How many banksters, Wall Street gamblers, and corporate executive criminals have done time for crashing the entire American and global economy – surely a far worse crime than getting high?

      Our laws have never been enforced equally. The disempowered continue to get screwed while the powerful continue to get rich.

  • Patrik

    I think there is a subtle variation of Jim Crowe that exists in the U.S.  Throughout the ages, governments, kings, villiage chiefs have in some way or form tried to keep the lowest end of the society, slaves and the poorest, suppressed to prevent them from even gaining the notion that they will ever ascend to their position.  Here the stick is real, the carrot is a mirage.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    The real Jim Crow was based on race, something that isn’t chosen and shouldn’t matter.  Committing a crime is a choice and must matter.

    • Patrik

      Greg, I agree.  I think the argument is the system is set up so it pushes minorities into a position of such desperation that crime seems like a reasonable/viable option to gain the “American Dream”.  That group of people then become the face crime and drugs and creates situations like Sanford, FL. 

    • Nancy

      Greg, you did not get two “LIKES,” I accidentally hit the wrong button.
      You sure seem like a person who has a great need for attention.  Do you really have to repeat yourself in so many posts?  I find it really annoying.

      • aj

        lolll

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

         Freedom of speech is a genuine pain to people who don’t want to hear a different opinion.

        • Robert Riversong

          It’s even more of a pain when it requires that we be inundated with inane, ignorant, deeply prejudicial or decidedly mean-spirited opinions. 

          Fortunately, we have the same right to respond, but that seems to annoy you.

      • Ray in VT

        I think that Greg is pretty reasonable on many topics.  It looks like he’s got some strong opinions on this, so I wouldn’t hold the repetition against him.

    • Esnyder1288

      What about all of the white drug dealers who never do time?

    • Robert Riversong

      Yes, choice is personal, but the range of choices available to any sector of society is a systemic factor that we’re all responsible for.

      You state on your blogsite that “The ideal of our country is that individuals have the right to govern their own lives and the responsibility to work together to build a great society. The flaw of our major parties is that they each forget one part of that bargain.”

      But every comment of yours makes it clear that you’re concerned only about libertarian freedom and not a whit about social responsibility.

  • Tina

    Whenever I’ve heard Michelle Alexander interviewed on this topic, I’ve agreed with her 100%.  I wish she were wrong, but I’m afraid she is not:  this IS a new Jim Crow!

    • aj

      You got on air! Right on :)

    • Robert Riversong

      New? Or simply a continuation of a deep-seated prejudice and wanton miscarriage of justice that has never left white America?

  • TFRX

    Nothing on this board yet re the decades-long disparity between crack cocaine sentencing and powder cocaine sentencing?

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       The difference makes no sense, but are you suggesting that users of either don’t know what they’re getting into?

      • TFRX

        It means lots more records of felonies and more hard time for one subset than the other.

        • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

           The answer is simple:  Don’t take the drug.  Then you get no sentence and no record.

          • TFRX

            Hey, maybe we can swap the sentencing guidelines and throw white cocaine users in jail like we’ve been doing to black crack users for a quarter of a century.

            Maybe that’ll even it out, and slap some sense into rich white folks whose coke-snorting kids will “be kids”.

          • Esnyder1288

            Exactly…black people don’t use cocaine at the rate of white people. They are too busy working or becoming the 1st or 2nd generation college grads in their family.

          • Anonymous

            ^ Keeps repeating the same, stunningly simplistic prattle over and over, as if doing so will convince anyone of it.

          • Robert Riversong

            Once again, for Greg Camp, everything is “simple”, which allows him to form simplistic conclusions and feel self-righteous about them.

          • Hidan

             The guy is supposedly  an Professor.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    It’s interesting to listen to all the people who were on the scene when Zimmerman shot Martin.  They are such careful observers of the incident.  They know so much about what happened.

    • Movingforwardmtsu

      People are
      ignoring your statements (in my opinion) largely because you’re not willing to
      concede to any of what is obviously factual. You have valid points. If you don’t
      do the crime then you’re less likely to do time.  I was raised in a very affluent socio
      economic environment and still faced tremendous harassment with police. I was
      given a large amount of tickets. I would honestly say that about 10% of my
      tickets driving were actually ligament.

      Although
      any reasonable person can understand that after being treated unfairly you tend
      to establish resentment. I challenge you sir to maybe take a moment ( if it is
      possible) stop trying to be “right” in your arguments and try
      empathy. I am asking you to empathize because if you are truly a teacher it is a
      part of the learning process that I am sure you are aware of.

      If you
      choose to empathize you will realize there is no simple answer to this complex
      issue. When you use oversimplified solutions to address the problem it can be perceived
      as if you are trivializing these situations.

    • Robert Riversong

      Even the eyewitnesses disagree on what they heard and saw, as is always the case.

      But the rest of us have a right, if not an obligation, to form an opinion about what happened and why. Some, if not most, will jump to a conclusion and accept only that evidence which fits their prejudice. Others, like any responsible jury, will weigh all the available evidence and try to come to an objective conclusion, even changing their mind as more evidence comes to light.

      I don’t suppose you’re in the latter camp.

  • John C

    I am initially inclined to refuse this thesis on the basis that the high incarceration rates are a symptom of the broken families that many of these young men are raised in.

    Granted! It is not by any means to say that all of these men are criminals, and that many of them may be 100% innocent, but I would not say that the majority are innocent, either.

    I remain open minded as much as possible.  I’d like to see if I can be persuaded otherwise by the interview.

    • aj

      Famlies are only “broken” because a generation of fathers are up in the county house. That’s her whole point. Mothers remain strong, and far from broken.

      “And since we all came from a womanGot our name from a woman and our game from a womanI wonder why we take from our womenWhy we rape our women, do we hate our women?I think it’s time to kill for our womenTime to heal our women, be real to our womenAnd if we don’t we’ll have a race of babiesThat will hate the ladies, that make the babiesAnd since a man can’t make oneHe has no right to tell a woman when and where to create oneSo will the real men get up”
      -Shakur

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Then don’t do the crime.  How simple is that?

    • Robert Riversong

      Yes, simple to a simple mind.

  • atakemoto

    Follow the money.  Somebody has to fill all of these for profit jails.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Is Alexander claiming that doing drugs is a necessary consequence of being black?  Taking a drug is a choice.  It’s not a genetic expression.

    • aj

      Sad to say, it can be a medicine, if you don’t have pharmaceutical health insurance and suffer from traumatic stress.

    • Robert Riversong

      Yes, taking a drug is a choice – one among the very few that our society has made available to the poor and people of color.

      The choice is personal. The range of choices is determined by society.

  • Kay

    Hats off to Ms. Alexander. One of the more meaningful guests I’ve heard on Ashbrook’s show.

    • Amy

      Agree completely, Kay.  I hope she gets tons of press. I have never understood why, after someone has committed a felony and served time, they are no longer allowed to vote or serve on juries.  Have they not already paid for their crime?  All former rights should be reinstated.  But more importantly, we must decriminalize drug use, especially marijuana. We are all paying for those poor people serving life sentences for drugs, an absolutely absurd and cruel sentence for a non-violent crime.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    But the supposed targets of this war could remove themselves simply by not committing the crimes.  Whether the punishment is applied equally or not and whether there’s a sinister plot behind it or not, if you don’t commit the crime, you’re not generally going to subject to the consequences.

    • Ray in VT

      I’d definitely have to agree with your first statement, Greg.  I think that it is pretty absurd that we put people in jail for some of these petty drug crimes.  Having said that, though, it is still the law.

    • aj

      And many do remove themselves and not commit the crime. Trayvon Martin for example, and he still got thumped.

    • E.Frank Harp

      People are
      ignoring your statements (in my opinion) largely because you’re not willing to
      concede to any of what is obviously factual. You have valid points. If you don’t
      do the crime then you’re less likely to do time.  I was raised in a very affluent socio
      economic environment and still faced tremendous harassment with police. I was
      given a large amount of tickets. I would honestly say that about 10% of my
      tickets driving were actually ligament.

      Although
      any reasonable person can understand that after being treated unfairly you tend
      to establish resentment. I challenge you sir to maybe take a moment ( if it is
      possible) stop trying to be “right” in your arguments and try
      empathy. I am asking you to empathize because if you are truly a teacher it is a
      part of the learning process that I am sure you are aware of.

      If you
      choose to empathize you will realize there is no simple answer to this complex
      issue. When you use oversimplified solutions to address the problem it can be perceived
      as if you are trivializing these situations.

    • Robert Riversong

      Yes, and millions of people could stay out of trouble by simply not drinking alcohol. And corporate execs could simply stay on the straight and narrow rather than give in to the temptation to squeeze every last dollar of profit out of every transaction even if it stretches the law a little or a lot. 

      But, being human, people of every color, class and occupation tend to follow the herd and engage in the activity that’s available to them, believing that they can avoid the consequences.

      The only difference is that poor people and people of color don’t have as many options for pushing the limits as the rest of us. But people of your blindered and self-serving perspective always prefer to blame the victim.

  • Jamison

    My problem with argument is that  I see Black kids/ adults ever day using drugs on the STREET in public.  I dont see even close to the number of Whites using drugs in public. 
    I live in Roxbarry now but lived in Brooklyn NYC for 10 yrs so its not like Im not around this problem.  

    • TFRX

      I don’t see even close to the number of Whites using drugs in public.

      In my metro area, white folks know where to go to buy their drugs (hint: it’s not where they live) and then take the drugs home.

      Same thing with prostitution: There’s a well-practiced habit of procured that service in someone else’s neighborhood.

    • Anonymous

      In NH our drug dealers and drug users are decidedly white – http://www.clrsearch.com/Nashua_Demographics/NH/Population-by-Race-and-Ethnicity

    • Robert Riversong

      Could it be that you notice blacks more than whites? And could it be that whites have more options as to where to buy or use?

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    I’ve been a teacher for the last fourteen years, both on the high school and college level.  I’ve taught far too many minority students who see education as “acting white.”  That’s not a belief imposed from outside.  That’s a choice made by the individuals and the culture that holds it.  Until we change the culture, we’ll never change the symptoms.

    • Robert Riversong

      You’re to some extent right, but not for the racist reasons that you claim.

      People of color grow up knowing that, short of gansta cutlure, the only way up and out is to “act white” – to accept and follow the paths that white Americans have used to advance (though the myth of social mobility in America has always been more myth than reality), and to mimic the personality traits, behaviors and thinking patterns of whites.

      It’s an old story. Southern plantation slaves often mimicked the deferential and polite behaviors of their white overlords.

    • Robert Riversong

      Greg Camp: “I’ve been a teacher for the last fourteen years, both on the high school and college level.”

      Well that’s an indictment of the American educational system.

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

         I see.  So only people of the correct political persuasion can teach?  What we find here is that diversity only matters when it includes favored groups.

  • HarryBoston

    Tom, please talk about the Prison Industrial Complex — privitization of prisons. For example look at states where prisons have been privatized and who owns them — probably white Republicans. Also, talk more about the California prison guard union and its hold on the legislature via lobbying and who knows what. The whole thing is really nasty.

  • William

    Is it racism or the development of sub-cultures that have a different set of behavioral standards from the accepted norms?

    • Ray in VT

      William, is your comment directed towards drug crime convictions?  If it is, then certainly drug culture is not something that is confined to any racial group.  I’ve known a decent number of white kids who’ve been caught with drugs but haven’t done time.  Of course in my state the trend has been towards deterrance programs for minor offenses instread of jail time.

      • William

        She does not address the development of subcultures in America. She wants to blame Reagan for the failures within certain communities to adopt main stream values. Don’t do drugs, go to school, stay out of trouble. There is no secret that this will prevent a person from getting caught up in the legal system.

        • Ray in VT

          But are you saying that doing drugs in a subculture, and in this case racial, value?  That is how your comment appears to me.  Drugs are certainly a problem among all groups.  I see many young rural whites smoking weed and consuming alcohol when they are underage, and one need only look at the amphetamine problem in much of rural, white America.  There are real problems there.  Part of the question must be are those offenders getting punished at the same rate and with comparable sentences as urban and/or minority offenders.

          People shouldn’t be blaming others for when they running afoul of the law when they are doing something that is quite widely known to be illegal.  

          • William

            Ebonics would be a good indication of the black community developing a subculture. The high rate of single mothers, no fathers, being arrested for breaking the law etc..is higher in the black community.

    • aj

      Charles Murray, coming apart?

  • Sofia

    Check out the work of the Prison and Jail Project and John Cole Vodicka, documenting systematic use of all-white juries, Ku-Klux Klan member judges and police officers in the Deep South to convict and sentence black people harshly and at rates far above those for whites charged with similar crimes. A shame on our nation. http://petrafoundation.org/fellows/John_Cole_Vodicka/index.html

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    In other words, Alexander is dodging the question because the answer doesn’t fit her narrative.  Thanks for clarifying.

  • BEEZ

    Embracing a “thug culture” as Tom mentioned one commenter said, is a direct rejection of the “culture” which created the Jim Crow laws, and has dehumanized black Americans for hundreds of years.
    Would YOU embrace the ways of your oppressors?

    • aj

      Empathy at its finest, thanks 2 u.

    • Robert Riversong

      The answer, for almost everyone, is YES. It’s an unfortunate fact of human nature that we absorb and internalize the culture and ethos of our oppressors and, in some cases, even come to identify strongly with them (the Stockholm syndrome).

  • Penny

    There is not a credible argument that our system IS NOT biased against African-Americans.  I am a white, upper middle-class woman who says, “People, listen. to. this. woman.” For one example, take a look at the case of Clarence Aaron.  It will make you sick.

  • Kay

    The racism in these comments is amazing. Stop being so reactionary and defensive, white folks. 

  • Charles

    One point I like to make is that many of those who say “commit the crime, do the time” speed every day they get behind the wheel.  Do they realize speeding increases the risk of death for ALL motorists.  Also…if someone is an alcoholic for instance..does it really make sense to punish someone for having a actual medical condition?  Why are we not focused more on treatment than on punishment.  If the tower of London did not prevent crime; then no amount of jail time will either.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Speeding is a different order of action, and the fines for speeding are a convenient way for the county or city to raise funds.

      • Robert Riversong

        Yes, automobile “crimes” are different – they are far worse and result in an order of magnitude more injuries and deaths every year. Yet self-centered people continue to claim a “right” to speed or drive aggressively or carelessly (on the cell phone).

  • Govinda56

    Kudos for today’s show!!!! Very important topic.

  • http://twitter.com/NeillFranklin Neill Franklin

    As a 33 year law enforcement veteran who couldn’t quite put my finger on what was occurring in the communities where I enforced drug laws. Why did we enforce drug laws in Black America and prohibited from entering many suburban neighborhoods? Ms. Alexander’s book connected the dots for me. I advocate now for an end to the drug war.

    • William

      So, what we need is a separate set of standards, laws for blacks and brown people from everyone else?

      • Ray in VT

        I think that he is saying that a separate set of standards already has existed for “blacks and brown people”.

        • William

          Her data does not say innocent people are being sent to jail. She is pushing the idea that what might be unacceptable behavior in Asian, or white communities is acceptable in black or brown communities so don’t punish blacks or brown people unless they really do some serious crimes.  

          • Ray in VT

            I disagree.  I think that she is saying that the system comes down harder on minorities for many of the same types of offenses versus when they are committed by whites.

          • http://twitter.com/NeillFranklin Neill Franklin

            Correct! In all aspects of the criminal justice system. Blacks are targeted and arrested at higher rates than whites (even though blacks use and sell at like rates). Blacks are convicted at higher rates. Blacks are charged federally at higher rates for like crimes. Blacks receive longer prison sentences for like crimes. Go to the DOJ and Bureau of Prisons websites and check it out for yourself. I saw this for over 20 years and did not recognize it until a few years ago. It’ time to dismantle our criminal justice system, which is nothing more than a criminal system and build a true justice system.

          • William

            True, the system usually comes down on those that don’t have a good lawyer. There are many ethnic groups in the justice system so a blanket statement that it’s all about race is false.

      • tim

        How did you get that from what Neill Said?

      • Robert Riversong

        No, we need – for the first time in our history – the same laws and the same application of those laws. In other words, equal and sensible justice.

  • BEEZ

    Mike (the caller),
    It IS a “master plan” constructed long ago, and today’s “subconcious” bias is a result of it

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    The caller didn’t grow up in the period and apparently can’t read history books.  He’s exactly the kind of person to whom Alexander’s thesis appeals.

  • DONOMAC88

    Your guest is wrong. In NH, a small bag of marijuana is going to get you in the same amount of trouble regardless of race. Do not feed me the line about it being not a serious crime. Is she suggesting we enforce the laws in a lax manner for minorities?

    • Robert Riversong

      You clearly haven’t looked at the outcomes of similar crimes for dissimilar races and classes. On paper, the penalties might be the same, but in practice there’s no comparison.

      And I don’t know why you think it’s a “line” to claim that marijuana use is a non-issue, when it has few if any negative health or social effects and a broad range of positive health effects (medical marijuana should be legal everywhere). It is an order of magnitude safer for society than alcohol or tobacco, yet we tolerate those.

  • Elizabeth in RI

    Speaking as a white woman who grew up in a very white town, I find the simplistic statements that it is the criminal behavior that drives this problem, ridiculous! Think of laws for crack and regular cocaine: the cheap crack cocaine that is more often used by poorer people has a MUCH higher penalty than that for the more expensive cocaine. Because we expect people of color to be criminal they aren’t cut ANY breaks and are immediately labeled “criminals’. While white kids, just “made a mistake” and aren’t labeled the same way. White kids and adults do as much or more than black kids/adults, but we don’t put them in jail at nearly the same yet. Shame on this nation for our poor behavior!

  • ianway

    Wow.  What an extraordinary job connecting the dots.  Ms. Alexander’s thesis seems to me dead on and explains so much about our current situation.  It’s as impressive an accounting of the kind of “banal evil” that institutionalizes the oppression of people as Lanzmann’s Shoah.  There is no more important issue for any American citizen truly concerned about human rights, equality, and the legitimacy of this country’s claims to higher principles to confront than the issue Ms. Alexander (and Eugene Jarecki’s Sundance award-winning documentary The House I Live In) so brilliantly brings to light. 

  • Anonymous

    In June, 1964 civil rights activists James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner were murdered in Philadelphia Mississippi.

    On August 3, 1980, Ronald Reagan gave his first post-convention speech in Philadelphia Mississippi at the Neshoba County Fair saying “I believe in states’ rights… I believe we have distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended to be given in the Constitution to that federal establishment.”

    How was Reagan’s choice of venue and topic any different from a white supremacist visiting Dachau concentration camp and speaking of the state’s right to manage population health?

    How was racism not behind any of this?

    • Ray in VT

      My boss told me that that was the speech that drove him out of the GOP.

      • Anonymous

         Rumor has it that he’s the founding father of the Tea Party

        • Ray in VT

          Is that like a posthumous conversion, maybe a bit like the at times controversial LDS practice?

        • aj

          What would Samuel Adams say?

          • Ray in VT

            Where’s my cut of the beer named after me?

    • Robert Riversong

      It was, of course, much more than just about racism. Reagan’s ideology and his presidency was the beginning of the end of republican democracy in America. It was a war on blacks, on the poor, on the labor movement, ultimately on the middle class, on social welfare and the republican notion of civic virtue and social responsibility, and a war on any other ideology or nation which dared get in the way of American exceptionalism.

      Reagan returned us to a cowboy nation of might makes right, every man for himself, and vigilante justice. And he set the course for the 2008 economic collapse and the obscene discrepancy of wealth and dissolution of the social and political fabric that we face today.

  • jim

    I don’t understand why people do not think this is an issue against black when the statistics of incarceration on blacks is so, so overwhelming. please explain it. low income white people, many of them addicted to drugs like amphetamine, have a much lower percentage of its group in jail compare with blacks. just don’t say it is not discrimination IF the statistics is SO SO overwhelming… denial will not do anyone any good and denial will only make one look stupid and not credible.

  • http://twitter.com/NeillFranklin Neill Franklin

    Please read the book and complete other research before commenting. I have read the book, conducted research and spent 3 decades on the front lines. I know how we police, our tactics and strategies. We got this one so wrong, so wrong. And I was one of the unwitting participants. No longer, never again!

    • aj

      Good for you. Now what about the paramilitary tactics used on the Occupiers, that’s not good either.  Tear gas, pepper spray, 4am incursions, swat gear, stun guns, …???  Cut it out POPO!

      Effe Bloomberg’s goons!

      • http://twitter.com/NeillFranklin Neill Franklin

        I agree. The policing profession has taken a bad turn on the heals of drug prohibition and homeland security. We have become this para-military styled force that no longer mirrors its community. In many jurisdictions we appear separate from community and if we, the citizens, don’t take back control of our police forces soon, we’re in for some serious problems down the road. 

        You can clearly see it even now, where the police have been given more latitude in depriving you of your civil rights. Just about any cop can articulate a reason for stopping you on the street or in your car and searching you, with no repercussions (4th amendment). I can even seize your money and property, place no criminal charges upon you and have you prove your right to legal ownership in a court of law (5th Amendment). A savvy cop could even take your life and get away with it (murder). Thank God for the good cops still desiring to wear the uniform.

        • aj

          I salute you Sir.

  • Mary in Michigan

    Wait wait wait! My husband is a cop and when his dept receives a call to check on suspicious people he HAS to check it out to keep his constituents happy!!!!!!!! He doesn’t SEEK OUT minorities to check on—he gets asked to by people in his jurisdiction. The  dept HAS to check out “suspicious people” because if they don’t the public gets angry! Don’t villify police for doing the job they are asked to do!!!!

    • Robert Riversong

      You conveniently ignore the statistically proven fact of racial, ethnic and religious profiling that occurs in every part of America.

    • http://twitter.com/NeillFranklin Neill Franklin

      What I am saying is that these policies have corrupted the policing profession. Good police officers who really care for community and people are now pitted against citizens…go lock up as many people as you can using and selling drugs…more, more, more. Look at the policy of prohibition, which is the foundation for violent drug markets and enforcement has gone way beyond locking up shooters and gang bangers. We are locking up those who are addicted, sick. We are locking up people who are self medicating with what is available to them. Many are self medicating due to child abuse at epidemic rates. No access to mental health services for those trying to forget. This is a very complex issue where we are trying to solve health concerns with the criminal justice system.  Cops have been put in the middle. The problem of drug use and abuse is not a police problem. 

    • Anonymous

      I can appreciate that that happens to honest officers. At the same time- as I mentioned in an earlier comment- I personally know officers who habitually refer to black people as ‘dirties’. These officers will overlook offenses when committed by well-off white kids when a black person committing the same offense, by the officer’s own admission, would have been arrested.

      These officers are not people I would think of as ‘bad people’. They just create a self-fulfilling prophecy where drug-using whites are goofing off and drug-using blacks are a threat. I don’t think the solution is to demonize officers, but recognizing bias in enforcement and in society at large is certainly a start.

    • aj

      Interesting take, but NYPD stop and frisk is wholly seperate from that.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    So why do people commit drug crimes.  Answer that question.

    • Robert Riversong

      You ask as if you expect a simple answer.

      If you’re referring to the drug activity of blacks and the poor, the answer is obvious to anyone with open eyes.

      We have created a society which worships material affluence, wealth, power and prestige, but that makes those shallow goals available to only a very narrow segment of the population and almost not at all to those born poor or of color.

      Poor people are just as enculturated as the rest of us for these goals, but have very few paths to attempt to achieve them. One of the most lucrative paths is dealing drugs.

      As far as simple using – and associated crime necessary to support an expensive habit – that has much to do with the hopelessness that comes with lack of opportunity and a lifetime of discrimination, humiliation and abuse.

      But, apparently, you didn’t notice.

    • http://twitter.com/NeillFranklin Neill Franklin

      You mean drug prohibition crimes. The vast majority of these “drug crimes” would not exist if it were not for prohibition. Shootings, corner scuffles, witness intimidation murders, snitching murders, addicts breaking into cars and homes, addicts robbing people for drug money, THE MEXICAN DRUG CARTEL, etc. End prohibition and you end most of these crimes overnight. http://www.leap.cc

  • Esnyder1288

    What about Latin or “brown” people? We are treated like this to. I was questioned by a police officer when I moved to a new neighborhood in Miami Beach, Florida about what I was doing in that neighborhood. I live here, work, and go to college! Does that surprise you?

  • Sam

     

    I think an interesting facet of this discussion is to ask if
    and how class plays into this issue. It’s interesting to compare the Trayvon Martin
    case with the recent controversy in Rio de Janeiro that occurred around the
    same time as Martin’s death. The controversy I am referring to is where the son
    of the wealthiest man in Brazil hit and killed a poor favela resident with his car, the former in a 1.5 million dollar Mercedez
    and the latter on his bike on the side of the interstate.  

     

    There has been much public outcry in Rio about Wanderson
    Pereira dos Santos´s death, but the tone of the outcry has been clearly a “rich
    versus poor” clash. Can we say that in America, unlike in Brazil and many other
    nations with mixed raced demographics, profiling is purely a racial issue?

    • Esnyder1288

      Let me guess, the son of the richest man in Brazil was probably “white” and the man from the favela “black”?

    • aj

      Brazil appears to have a mixed race veneer.  I bet this guy in the 1.5million(WOW!) benz is an entirely caucasian brazilian? Am I wrong? In other words race runs deep in the roots of that unequal society, No?

    • Esnyder1288

      So I looked up the story, man on the bike was black, billionaire white. He didn’t get arrested or anything. Imagine if the black guy was the one who killed the rich white boy with his car? Jail for life.

  • Buffalo2005

    How dare you compare college kids getting caught with a bag of pot To felony convictions. In black curban communities the sad thing is drug dealer is thought of as a career choice and in suburban worlds its a recreational choice. Not pusude with intensity and desperation as the other. Bad family situations and lost hope leads the ghetto. Marijauna is not remotely as profitable as cocaine/crack nor nearly as violent.

    • armidalm

      Are you aware that amphitamine addiction, a.k.a., crystal, affects mostly white rural communities. Has the so-called War on Drugs (WD) as harsh as the so-called WD on racial minorities? Try to answer this question honestly.

    • tim

      So the situations where people possess illegal drugs aren’t comparable because of how you think other people view the person in possession of the items? This is kind of the whole point…

      • aj

        lol

    • Kay

      As Tim below implies, you just made Ms. Alexander’s point.

    • Esnyder1288

      This comment just radiates ignorance. I know a few drug dealers (mainly friends of my white friends) and they are all white. Being a drug dealer isn’t looked upon as a “career choice” in poor communities, to think there are people that go around with so many false facts. All of the black people I know in my age range are in college and/or holding down legit jobs.

  • armidalm

    I would like to express my gratitude to On Point, and Dr. Alexander, for such an insightful and intelligent program.

    It is about time that the toxic myths that are sinking the nation in such a moral crisis come to the open and be exposed as what they are, at best sheer ignorance or, not unlikely, as self-congratularory hypocrisy.  

    • Robert Riversong

      Or, as Ms. Alexander described, a deliberate policy.

  • Anonymous

    4 More Reasons for the War on Drugs:

    1. The War on Drugs is essential for the covert control of Latin American governments…this essential motivating factor cannot be ignored. It provides us with a pseudo legal cover for armed squadrons of agents to patrol, surveill and directly intervene in Latin American states.  This is in turn a necessary precondition of installing right wing or neoliberal governments who will sign onto colonialist trade agreements like FTAA and CAFTA-DR, agree to “security partnerships” like SOUTHCOM and sign up for exploitative IMF and World Bank privatization, deregulation and devaluation schemes.

    2. The giant, hundreds of billions of $ strong Mafia makes the great majority of its $ via the cartel monopoly of which the War on Drugs is the non-negotiable prerequisite.  Reports in the last 3 years of major US banks funneling millions of USD in illegal drug money as well as the Iran-Contra repeat of “Fast & Furious/Project Gunrunner” revelations within the DoJ, as well as reports coming out of Afghanistan about US black ops involvement with the drug trade, as well as the obscene lack of justice rendered to Whitey Bulger’s FBI collaborators in his recent trial demonstrate that the Mafia has its men in high places.  Given the epic failure and unfathomable cost of the War on Drugs, it is impossible that any honest politician could support its agenda. We know that J. Edgar Hoover had intimate ties with Organized Crime.  Don’t think for a second that an epic policy fiasco like this does not have a relationship to the dark hand.

    3. Mass incarceration is a precondition of the Corporatist agenda.  It is necessary to remove large portions of poor urban populations legally from the voting pool.  Not doing so would result in policies highly unfavorable to oligopolic interests: higher minimum wage, heavier taxes on elites, public housing which in turn would ease pressure on rents, better funded schools, water & sanitation infrastructures and public transport, all of which contribute to the elimination of a desperate and vulnerable caste, easy to exploit.

    Besides taking out Big Business’s political opponents via the war on drugs, mass incarceration is also necessary to line the pockets of private prison contractors who use non-violent criminals to perform labor for contracted private corporations, like Victoria’s Secret. CCA and GEO group lobyists have, for example in the case of Florida’s prison privatization initiative (which did not pass the legislature in 2011), directly written bills regarding not only privatization,  but also 3 Strikes, mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines, etc. Front groups like ALEC are often involved in such activity. Mass Incarceration also exerts a major downward pressure on wages & benefits by reinforcing an “untouchable” caste that, via their position of necessity, bargain wages downward.

    CORI and background checks are part of this outcasting process. It is very important to note that many non-violent drug offenders are released in states that bar them from receiving Food Stamps and public housing. Thus, not only are they effectively branded from most employment opportunities; outside of prison, they are deprived of the right of survival. Thus, a secured population of inmates is secured for the private prison industry and their legal, contracted slave labor to large corporations. Even a Neoliberal magazine like The Economist has categorically stated that public prisons are more cost effective and efficient than contracted private prison services.

    4. (this one is speculative, the others are proven) Cannabis is a remarkably effective agent in mitigating cancer and reducing tumor size.  Since Big Pharma’s biggest cash cow is cancer, I doubt they’d want to permit anything close to busting their stranglehold on the market.  Also, a much more lenient approach to illicit drug usage would almost certainly exert downward pressure on prescription drug prices, as the penalty for generic bootlegs would lessen.  These effects are at variance with interests of Big Pharma.

    • Robert Riversong

      All your points are central to the drug “problem”. But number four is not speculative, at least in terms of the broader medicinal values of cannabis, which many people, physicians and now some states are starting to recognize. 

      For the same reason, laetrile (derived from apricot pits and apple seeds) was determined by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Institute to be effective against cancer in the 1970s, so the research was terminated and the “drug” banned in America (you can get treatment in Mexico).

      And, as an extension of the corporate state’s insistence on no competition for profits, non-psychoactive hemp is illegal to grow in the US (though it was a cash crop for G. Washington) because it could replace half the petrochemical products and applications for far less financial and ecological cost.

    • aj

      Very interesting.

      P.S. Victoria’s Secret?!? LOL.

      • Anonymous

        I know, it is funny but true! Though I should have listed another, larger company that uses prison labor like Starbucks.

  • Jillsweeney78

    Hire more black cops.

    • http://twitter.com/NeillFranklin Neill Franklin

      And…….

  • Michael

    Ms Alexander makes some valid points, but I feel sorry for her going through life with so much guilt.  When do all people become responsible for their actions?  It has been a long time since 4 people, including a baby, were shot down in the street during a drug robbery here in the suburbs.

    • Robert Riversong

      You confuse guilt with an informed responsibility. Yes, all people must assume responsibility for their lives and for the community and nation that we help create and sustain.

      No one lives in a vacuum. Our lives are completely dependent on society and society does not exist without individual participation.

      Ms. Alexander opened her eyes. Try opening yours.

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

         Who doesn’t know that marijuana and other such drugs are illegal?

        • http://profiles.google.com/rickevans033050 Rick Evans

          The population of California. 

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

             Too true. . .

          • Robert Riversong

            And too rare. But we Vermonters are considering a bill to legalize medical marijuana, too. CA and VT have always led the nation.

          • aj

            That’s a KO punch IMHO.

        • Anonymous

          It’s not that people don’t know. It’s that there are different standards in enforcement. 

          No cops patrolled the streets of my youth, frisking kids who looked ‘suspicious’. I personally know cops who refer to black people as ‘dirties’ as a matter of habit. They don’t think it’s a problem, it’s apparently a widespread thing. 

          I’ve had these cops tell me that if they smelled an odor at a college dorm (rich, art school here in town), they’ll probably let it go if it’s not totally obvious. If it’s a poor black person, they’re “taking a ride”.

          Once people are in the system it’s hard to get out, as detailed by the guest.

        • Robert Riversong

          And your point is?

  • Sapna in Boston

    You have to separate individual behavior from the effects of living under systemic racism. Most people want to do the right thing. People can “pull themselves up” and make a good life for themselves. That is individual choice. But in a community where there is systemic racism, where are you going to go? How are you going to do it? Have you ever been pulled over by the police? Doesn’t your heart race a bit, whether or not you did something wrong? Imagine that happening to you once a week, from a teenager onwards. It takes a toll. 

  • Imaginect

    Guest is spot on.  As a former police officer in an upscale suburban community, there were unwritten double standard for drug law enforcement, lest we deprive a teenager access to a prep school, ivy league college, etc…  Drug use and drug dealing, although more subtle and sophisticated then the street corner dealings (an as a result not easy pickings), was very prevalent by the suburban youth (and parents), yet other than confiscating and destroying seized drugs, few actual arrests were made.   

    When arrests were made, these youths had access to and benefitted from private legal counsel, plea bargaining, and special offender status with records eventually sealed or expunged.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I see a parallel between the health system and the corrections system.  We have people going to the emergency room, uninsured, and ending up with diagnostics and so forth creating a bill of maybe $6,000, and a referral to a specialist who out of pity sees those people, knowing they’ll never be paid, where in the olden days, the particular “emergency” would be tended to by tradition, by something like tribal wisdom that teaches people how to proceed.  No worries about being hauled into court and sued for all you the practitioner or hospital are worth if you missed doing a certain MRI.
        So:  throw a ton of money at it, and hope you catch the flying butterfly.  Similarly with the corrections system.  We pay humongous money, where in the olden days the stresses that led people into the illegal behaviors would be sized up by the community and rectified.  The community would see locking someone up and further “disabling” them with the tag of felon — and a vacation they really can’t afford (in prison) — as counterproductive.   Throw a ton of money at it and hope it goes away.  
        Did Michelle Alexander study  Massachusetts, where juries are screened to weed out a racial bias?   It seems to me people of all colors are having trouble staying within the bounds of the law.  Some don’t even try.  A vacation is a vacation, in certain ways of life.

    • Drew You Too

       ”I see a parallel between the health system and the corrections system.”

      “So:  throw a ton of money at it, and hope you catch the flying butterfly.”

      Love of Money isn’t called the Root of All Evil without good cause. Seems like there’s few if any problems in our Society that don’t share these parallels when you dig down to their Roots.

  • Drew You Too

    Really enjoying the show and the commentary on the board this morning. Please ask Miss Alexander how big a role she feels that Economic Profiling (you’re not affluent so you must be up to no good) has perpetuated our inability to let go of Racial bias which often exists at a subconscious level.

    Drew, Georgia

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Behind Alexander’s message is the belief that minorities have to be lifted up by the majority.  What if the black community as a whole decides to issue an internal message:  Don’t do drugs; get an education?

    • http://twitter.com/kuroikittee Kittee

      Okay, Mr. Camp, I have been reading your outrageous comments for a while now, and I am dumbfounded by your ignorance. I was taught that people like you are the real victims, because you have been blinded by dogma and cannot be reasoned with. This latest comment crosses a line into overt racism. FUN FACT: More Black American are in college than in prison. I hate to rain on your parade, but we sent out that “memo” long before your time.

      I think a more useful message would be: Look beyond the surface, find the truth, think for yourself

      and just so you know rationalizing is not the same as reasoning. Perhaps someone should have sent that memo your way instead.

      • Robert Riversong

        Sock it to him, sister!

    • Robert Riversong

      No, the primary message is that we, among the privileged, have to at least get out of the way of the black community’s efforts at self-improvement, but mostly we have to take our boots off their necks.

  • Realist

    Popular culture shows us how minority and white criminality are viewed differently.  No network would run a show romanticizing the culture of urban street gangs,  Bloods, Crips, MS 13, etc.  Yet on FX there is a show called Sons of Anarchy, about a motorcycle gang that runs guns, offers protection to drug dealers, bribes police and kills its enemies.  Of course what Bo and Luke Duke were doing was just youthful hijinks.

    • aj

      Just the good ol boys
      Never meanin no harm
      Beats all you’ve ever saw
      Been in trouble with the law
      Since the day they was born.

      lol. I grew up on that show. A-team, and Chips too. Daisy Duke was my first crush.

    • Funigi

      And most Scorcese, Coppola, Denero, etc films that romanticize the lifestyle. At least New Jack City and the Wire paint a bleak outcome. They are but a few of the options that any unguided urban Black or rural white youth can envision without the certainty of a payoff for accruing the debt needed to acquire an advanced education. Corporations used to invest in their workforce through apprenticeships but corporate reimagineers like Jack Welch, who got his UMass education for $50 per semester, considered an inefficient use of assets. Thanks Jack. (former CEO of GE)

      • aj

        Brilliant.

  • Jamison

    Douse she not take in account the broking window theerie? 

  • Rosekajo

    The accumulation of debts that cannot be paid while in prison is one of the abuses addressed by John Howard, English prison reformer who died in 1790.  Like the prisoners described by Michelle Alexander, many of those crushed by these debts were innocent.  Many were awaiting trial for small civil matters, but just the accusation was enough to ruin the prisoner and the prisoner’s family.

  • aj

    Thank you Laura.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

     The caller has bought into the narrative of feeling guilty for a supposed privilege.  She calls herself overeducated.  Is there such a thing?  And then she attacks gun ownership.  Someone needs to lay off the Koolaid.

    • Robert Riversong

      There may be such as thing as overeducated, but there is without doubt such a thing as undereducated (or, at least ill informed), and you are the perfect example of the latter.

  • http://profiles.google.com/rickevans033050 Rick Evans

    I bet lobbying by unionized prison guards is as big if not a bigger factor in the growth of incarceration than prison privatization or corporations.

  • Jennifer Covey

     http://www.uakron.edu/dotAsset/1662103.pdf
    I am white- I carry this backpack- know it is there- colorblind is just away to say that minorities don’t exist and don’t matter. If you don’t see the color of their skin you don’t see them. Also the systems and institutions in this country are geared to keeping whites on top and people of color on the bottom. Racism is not just an individual act- it is a part of our education system, it is pat of our judicial system, it is part of every institution in America. Our system only accepts people of color if they become more “white.”

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       Not taking drugs and getting an education are white?  Then yes, people need to be more like that.  Of course, those two actions aren’t tied to race, but the leftwing narrative can’t accept that.

      • BEEZ

        Taking drugs and not getting an education are non-white? Then yes, racism is alive, and people need to be less like you

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

     Alexander is now showing which civil rights matter to her and which ones can be sacrificed in her utopia.

    • Robert Riversong

      Of course your “utopia” (meaning no place) is one in which everyone is armed to the teeth and no one ever feels safe.

      There is no “civil right” to carry concealed weapons in public, other than the inventions of radically-activist judges.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Tom Ashbrook, please have a program about gun rights and get someone who believes in them as one of your guests for the whole hour.

    • http://twitter.com/kuroikittee Kittee

      I think we’ve all had enough of the gun lobby. But if such an occasion does prevent itself, please invite victims of gun violence to provide the counter-argument.

      • TFRX

        I find it interesting that the gun lobby didn’t call on its members to add to our narrative the claim “If Trayvon had a gun he could have defended himself”.

        • http://twitter.com/kuroikittee Kittee

          Yes, I am certain it took much restraint to subdue the urge. Although, I must admit, I have not heard a response to the Treyvon Martin case from the gun lobby. If they are wise, they will not comment.

    • Robert Riversong

      There are no gun rights. Our constitutional system is based on the liberal Enlightenment principle that government is established to protect God-given, or natural, rights of human beings. The brilliant founders distilled those natural rights into three: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

      The second amendment clearly protects the right of citizen militias and subsequent law created the obligation for males to be armed in order to participate in such militias.

      It was only by the twisted and self-serving logic of extreme libertarians and radically activist judges that this civil right became a personal right to bear arms in the public square.

      No one would argue that a human being, or a citizen of a republic, does not have the right of self-defense and the defense of their loved ones – since this is necessary to secure and protect the inalienable natural right to life.

      But the only reason that some people believe self-defense requires a concealed weapon is because, for so long, we’ve tolerated a Wild West culture in our cities and suburbs, where it is incompatible with civic life. 

      It is a form of insanity to “correct” a problem with more of the same, and yet that is precisely what gun addicts propose and even insist upon as a God-given right. God did not create handguns. Idiots did. Let us not now all become idiots in order to perpetuate a mistake.

  • Anonymous

    Typical liberal progressive rationalization that there is no personal responsibility for one’s circumstances.  So far we’ve heard Ms. Alexander state that whether it’s selling drugs, fathers abandoning their families, unemployment, or other myriad social problems, racism must be the cause.  I don’t share Ms. Alexander’s conclusion that if we only had more government programs these problems would go away.

    • Anonymous

      I sometimes ask myself “Who is the racist?”  Is it the person who says that if you drop out of school, have children out of wedlock, or break the law, then your choices have likely sentenced you to poverty.  Or could the racist be the person who says if you’re a minority you can’t control your destiny, only the white man and a government program can change your outcome.

      • Ray in VT

        It depends, I suppose, if one is directing those comments just at minorities or at whites who are in similar straits.  I can’t disagree with you that those things that you have listed make it more likely that your life is going to suck.

        What often irritates me with sentiments similar to what you’ve expressed is that I often find such comments attached to the idea that if you don’t make it, no matter how terrible the adversity that one has faced, then it is solely your fault.  In other words, everyone has a equal shot and only the weak don’t make it.  I don’t think that everyone has an equal shot, and I generally only hear that sort of sentiment directed at minorities.

        • Anonymous

          My sentiments apply to all races.  I don’t deny that someone born into a family that values education, traditional family structure, work ethic, and respect for authority, is more likely to escape poverty than the person who doesn’t have these things.  However, I do deny that adversity and poverty is an automatic sentence without a chance of redemption.  One has only to look at the success of millions of Asian families who came to this country in poverty, with the additional obstacle of learning a new language, but who valued education, a family with two parents, the law, and hard work, to know that the obstacles can be overcome.  Of the traits that I’ve listed, poverty is not the most dominant determinant of outcome; education, traditional family structure, work ethic, and respect for authority will outweigh poverty every time.

          • http://twitter.com/NeillFranklin Neill Franklin

            Ah! Family structure! A key component to anyone ascending from poverty. Thanks to drug prohibition laws and the enforcement that swiftly followed, that black family structure was attacked and this is nothing new. Many fail to realize that the black family structure has been under attack since slavery, which hasn’t been that long ago as some lead you to believe.

            A strategy used by slave owners in controlling slaves was to break up the family unit. Even after centuries of slavery, blacks managed to rebuild the family units only to have them attacked again under recent laws, such as drug prohibition. As mentioned, the evidence is clear when you examine the data and facts of incarceration over the past 4 decades. Because of the 60′s civil rights movement, you could no longer jail people for the color of their skin, but as Ms. Alexander pointed out, here came the southern strategy and with that, Nixon’s drug war. We can imprison folks for what they do and we can focus that enforcement.

            With Nixon availing monies to local law enforcement to combat public enemy #1 (drugs), that set the stage for the next assault upon the black family unit. Black men (heads of households) were arrested at alarming numbers and sent off to prison. Why were they in the drug trade, because industry left major cities at an alarming rate in the late 60′s and 70′s – steel went to China, other blue collar jobs went overseas and cities like Baltimore lost one third of its population. People do have to eat, so they did whatever they could to get buy and many sold drugs and the government knew it.

            So yes, the family unit is very important for a child pulling themselves up and out of poverty. Care to help us as we struggle to rebuild yet again?

            Stop the drug war, the worst public policy since slavery. 

            http://www.copssaylegalizedrugs.com 

          • MyCountryToo

            Asians are often launded for the success they achieve whenever a conversation about the racism of Whites against Blacks is talked about. This comparision is disengenous, facile and seeks to equate every group’s experience in this country as the same. In your own post you cite Asian families as coming to this country. That’s right, they came here, voluntarily.  They were not captured in their homeland and brought here against their will.  How convenient it is to forget a little thing called slavery.

      • http://twitter.com/kuroikittee Kittee

        That is not at all what Dr. Alexander, or other proponents of prison reform, are saying. Nor does restructuring their reasonable arguments into straw men help your argument.

    • http://twitter.com/kuroikittee Kittee

      Why is it that liberals (which I am not certain Michelle Alexander even is) are constantly being accused of trying to escape or avoid being held accountable for our actions? That is not the case. We want equality under the law. And to Dr. Alexander’s point, anyone who knows the underlying history can see how all three of those topics are heavily influenced by racism. That’s like bankrupting a school district and then getting upset that the administrators don’t accept blame for the failure of the students in that district. Our actions (especially those institutionalized via law) have consequences, that is the point made by Dr. Alexander.

    • Anonymous

      What we need is neither the blatant ignorance of people who reduce all social behavior to individual decision – without regard for the material circumstances that constitute the motivational context for individual decision – nor those who believe that state mitigation of a corrupt system of entitlements – entitlements of the corporate elite to the proceeds of production generated by workers – will solve the corrupt system.

      What is needed is an end to artificial scarcity, to an artificial limitation on production, which is the precondition of the profit system, and an end to the undue entitlement of financially advantaged shareholders to the proceeds of others labor through the equities market and the control of capital lending institutions.  The desire to extract value from the work of others is the root of all forms of discrimination and oppression.  All systematized discriminations, castes and pariahs share that common trait.

      The first step – among many – in remedying this structural problem is to establish a public central bank, whose member banks are non-profit institutions that charge rates of interest commensurate only with the rationally associated risk of lending. Currently, the great majority of loans are disbursed by for-profit institutions that set their interest rates not only at the level that corresponds to the risk associated with a particular loan, but above that level in order to make a profit.  The publicly owned central bank I am proposing, would also charge a rate of interest to municipal and public institutional borrowers that simply recovered its losses due to principle plus the time value of money…nothing more.

      “So far we’ve heard Ms. Alexander state that whether it’s selling drugs, fathers abandoning their families, unemployment, or other myriad social problems, racism must be the cause.”

      Imbeciles who make these kind of statements cannot account for dramatic CHANGE in any social metric, whether it be the rate of incarceration, unemployment rate, workforce participation rate, per capital income per wage quintile, the real value of minimum wage, the rate of homelessness, savings rates or total net worth rates per income quintile, etc.  Why has the prison population increased by about 4.6 fold per capita in only 40 years, so that, in 2009, we had 743 per 100,000 behind bars (Kings College of London review 2010) but in 1970, we incarcerated only 161.4 persons per 100,000 (Center for Economic Policy & Research report, June 2010). Another estimate by the Pew Center for the States in 2008, put the incarceration rate at 1,000 per 100,000, when including those being held for trial but not yet convicted.  By all estimates, the US has – far and away – the highest incarceration rate of any country: with around 25% of the world’s prisoners, it holds only 5% of the world’s population.  Russia has the next highest at around 577 or so persons per 100,000 (Kings College London 2010).  The Center for Economic Policy & Research June 2010 report put the Russian rate at 629. The European average, by comparison, was around 100 per 100,000 in 2010 (according to both of the reports mentioned).  France, for example, jailed 96 per 100,000 that year (according to both reports).  Yet violent crime rates are similar here as they are in many European countries.

      Again: in 1970, the US incarceration rate was 161.4; in 1980, it was 220.4 (Center for Economic Policy & Research report, June 2010).  So did people suddenly start committing more crimes between 1980 and present, when the incarceration rate per 100,000 is – at the very lowest estimate – 733 and – at a high estimate – 1,000?

      In fact, the opposite is the case!  “In the past 20 years, according to the FBI, violent crime rates fell by 25 percent, to 464 for every 100,000 people in 2007 from 612.5 in 1987″ (New York Times, Feb 28, 2008).  The reason we have so many behind bars today in comparison to our past and in comparison to every other country on the planet, is because of three reasons:
      1) Criminalization of previously legal behavior
      2) Dramatic, unprecedented increase in sentencing times, including minimum mandatory sentencing guidelines in many states for non-violent petty crimes.
      3) The increased use of plea bargains, parole requirements, denial of post-incarceration benefits and rights and other unjust circumventions of due process.

      Therefore, the notion that the rates are to be blamed on a lack of “personal responsibility” and “individual accountability” is false, idiotic and insulting.  It is a change in the law which has led the mass incarceration trend, not a change in criminal behavior.

      Why then did the law change?  There is not enough room here to articulate all of the geopolitical and structural economic reasons, but they can and have been identified by many. I summarized some of them in my comment below entitled, “4 more reasons for the War on Drugs.”

    • Anonymous

       I don’t think it is the personal responsibility portion that is the problem, but I see your point.

      I don’t know you but you sound like you view the world as if there is not a system of power in place, just an assumption. If that is true, then I think System Theory is where we could find some common ground.

      Anywhere you look, there are systems of control in place. Your electricity, garden, car, job – across social/people relations, as well as human to non-human relations, and on over to human to machines relations.

      when one light is off in your house, and the rest are on, the you can reasonably deduce that there is a bulb out. When a room is down but not the whole house, then you can deduce that there is a fuse blown. If the whole house is down, and so it everyone else’s on your street, you can tell there is a grid problem.

      Racism is like the grid problem, and yes it is up to you to protect your food and reset your clocks and maybe have a back up generator on hand, but when your whole life depends on the grid and it is consistently failing you, then you have a larger structural problem that is on the power companies’ end.

  • An_hargreaves

    I am a middle age, middle class, white woman who has a sister who has been in Federal Prison.  She is well educated has a supportive family, had a career prior to her arrest and she was in prison for less than 3 years.  I have seen first hand how hard trying to re-establish life outside of prison has been.   Everything I have heard Ms Alexandar say has been our/her experience, prosecutors using long mandatory miniums to get the confession they want, losing voting rights, impossibility of finding a job (let alone a decent job) etc.  Since we seems to fear and target young black man and they are so disproportionally represented in prisons, I just feel that her thesis rings so true it is painful to listen too.  When I think of the consequences for my brothers for youthful drug use compared to that of a black man in the same situation it is upsetting.  I have two brothers, who have done many of the silly things that young men do.  Neither has been arrested, or STOPPED and SEARCHED ever.  I have never heard my parents tell them not to run in public, or how to act around police, the haven’t needed that special lesson.

  • Concerned

    Getting a gun legally is not easy. If Zimmerman paid his debt to society, should he still be labeled a criminal? There seems to be some hypocrisy in the latter…

  • Anonymous

    I am appalled at how blind some people are who can deny the assault and bias on people of color.  Here’s another instance of a horrific treatment and a disastrous and sorrowful ending… for no reason whatsoever.  When will we embrace the fact that we are all equal, whether we are green or purple or red, white or black?

     http://www.thedailywhiteplains.com/tags/Kenneth-Chamberlain

  • Tvelliot

    For deeper understanding see this article in the journal of American history by heather Thompson Why Mass Incarceration Matters: Rethinking Crisis, Decline, and Transformation in Postwar American History
    I wonder if ms Alexander is familiar with her.

  • A. M. Sorensen

    My dad was a state trial judge in Provo, Utah, retiring from full time “judging” in the mid eighties.  At that time he was becoming deeply concerned with the trend toward ‘fast-tracking’ to prison of young men of color that was happening during the eighties.    He attributed the problem to state legislatures passing laws taking discretion out of the hands of the judiciary, depriving judges of the ability to do their jobs, and creating mandatory minimum sentences and “three strikes and your out” laws. He saw this as part of a political trend to use ‘law and order’ rhetoric to whip up the conservative base in order to win elections.  Michelle Alexander is right, and furthermore she is describing the heart of what is very wrong with the justice system in this country.
      

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

     Yup, she can’t bring herself to say that the black community needs to send itself a message:  Do right.

    • http://profiles.google.com/rickevans033050 Rick Evans

       Equal application of criminal justice laws is part of ‘Doing right’.

    • http://twitter.com/kuroikittee Kittee

      And how convenient that what is “right” is so narrowly defined by a rich, white, male minority!

    • Robert Riversong

      You mean she refuses to blame the victim, as you’re so quick to do.

  • Boston mom

    The term “colorblind” is so obnoxious to me. It’s what white people say to make themselves feel like they are above racism, but it seeks to strip people of a part (just one part) of themselves. What is happening in our public dialog in light of having our first black president is proof that racism exists. As if we needed MORE proof of this. Michelle is absolutely correct. Polls show that more than half of white people think the most common form of racism is black against white. Look at our prisons and I think we see which way institutionalized racism has gone.

    • Robert Riversong

      Yes, the term “colorblind” has been broadly misused, but it was also part of MLK’s dream: a nation that exercised justice equally and in which a man “will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

      What many fail to understand, however, is that MLK was also a strong advocate of making amends for past color-coded discrimination, by either financial reparations or programs of affirmative action to help remove the handicap that people of color were handed as a birthday present in our society.

  • Akiikius

    I think that Ms. Michelle Alexander has not had a personal experience with drugs in her life. She probably has not had a close relative or friend become destroyed by the effects of drugs. If she did her thesis would be quite different. People may have small quantities of drugs on them but it is the cumulative effect of drugs that destroys families and communities. The small runners make life possible for the big runners she would rather have arrested. Hitler never would have succeeded if the clerical staff and others had not complied. I believe that whether you are black or white, if you are caught in the wrong, you pay the full penalty as required by  law!

    • Sabuj Pattanayek

      what we need is more rehabilitation and less incarceration

      • Drew You Too

         A little consideration and a lot less indignation would take us a long way too…

      • TomK in Boston

        Which of the two do you think will be targeted by the righty budget cutters? 

        I always say “follow the money” so the fact that we have a booming, profitable, private (we love privatization, right?) prison industry run by well connected republicans will have a big influence here.

        • William

          The left gave the money that would have funded those two to Solyndra.

    • http://twitter.com/NeillFranklin Neill Franklin

      I’ve had drug abuse in my family, I’ve buried relatives who abused, I grew up in Baltimore (home of “The Wire” – need I say more), I policed on the front lines, I worked undercover, I managed 13 multi-jurisdictional drug task forces throughout my career, I was blind for almost 20 years before I began to see. I began to wonder why I was hated so much by young people for wearing the uniform. Wondering why young people don’t trust the police. Drug policy is not a criminal justice issue. It is a health concern. Drug prohibition has never worked for any drug and it never will. How did we fail to learn from history (alcohol prohibition), or did we???

      • Ray in VT

        What do you think is the way to go based upon your experience, Neill?  I don’t think that prohibition and criminalization has worked either, so where do we go?  Vermont has started doing a lot more court diversion and such as opposed to incarceration.  I can’t see the use of putting someone behind bars for smoking a joint, but the hard drug problem has gotten a lot worse where I am over the past 20 years.

        • http://twitter.com/NeillFranklin Neill Franklin

          I believe that for the immediate, we must examine the many avenues of harm reduction. Law enforcement can refocus on crimes of violence. Decriminalize drug possession for personal use nationwide. Use the savings toward more meaningful treatment and true education. Send a message to violent criminals that we are after you, not someone using drugs who is in need of medical assistance. Portugal has had great success with a similar approach.

          For the long term, continue moving toward an end to drug prohibition. This will begin to de-fund criminal enterprise, from the Mexican cartel to neighborhood gangs. It will free up $50 billion every year for high quality on-demand treatment programs, better schools, college educations and urban development to name a few. It’s a beginning to dispelling the myth that blacks are the basis for our nation’s drug problem and crime. It helps with breaking down racial profiling and with bridging the gap between police and community. It sets the stage for healing.

          It stops in its tracks the progress of the prison industrial complex. It puts an end to prison privatization. Prison privatization should be illegal in a democratic society. 

          As for the mechanics of a regulated and controlled drug market, that would take a convening of many disciplines; health professionals, educators, economists, judicial, urban development professionals, politicians, law enforcement, psychologists, etc. to begin the planning process. There would be different models for different drugs and different communities, similar to alcohol. Who knows how it would look. Let’s just begin the process toward a new look; one based on science and facts, not fear and rhetoric.

          • Robert Riversong

            Hear, hear!

          • Conscious9676

             very thoughtful comment.thx for taking time to inform us/educate many.

    • http://twitter.com/kuroikittee Kittee

       Well, Akiikius, I have, and I support Dr. Alexander’s work, and hope to God that other scholars pursue this line of thought as well. Drug abusers are not criminals and promote criminality only due to arbitrary prohibition. It seems like the government continues to reinvent justifications to incarcerate Black-Americans. It’s not right.

    • Conscious9676

       You miss the point. When does “do the time” end? Why s/returning citizens serve a “civil death penalty” –being denied food stamps, employments, student loans, professional licenses–once they return to the community?

  • Sabuj Pattanayek

    Start by repealing the laws that prevent non-violent offenders from voting, owning guns, being stigmatized by employers, and having access to other public services once they’ve done their time.

  • Brettearle

    Tom’s guest, at a certain point, alleged, by direct implication, that Zimmerman threw Martin to the pavement.

    Even though I believe that Zimmerman is more likely guilty than Martin, the facts of the incident are still in dispute (and may always be).

    Tom Ashbrook did not challenge the guest on her preemptive assumption–and he should have.

    It doesn’t matter what the theme of Dr. Alexander’s book is.

    A man’s innocent until proven guilty.  It is glaringly ironic that Dr. Alexander would make this mistake.

    • Jselderesq

      Brett:
      You might be missing the point.  

      • Brettearle

        I think that you MIGHT be missing the point.

        See my reply above your comment.

        If you think I’m missing the point, then explain.  Otherwise there is even a greater chance that I am NOT missing the point, if you won’t, or can’t explain.

        The issue is NOT cut-and-dry–as you may be implying.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

       Mr. Zimmerman admits to shooting Trayvon Martin.  Enough said.

      Neil

      • Brettearle

        Your reply demonstrates a serious breach with all the ramifications and nuances of the incident.

        You are trying to make an all-or-nothing case out of the incident, absent of an eye witness.

        It is NOT enough said.

        I happen to believe that Zimmerman IS likely guilty.

        But it IS possible that Zimmerman’s life was threatened and that we are wrong.

        It is a sad day in our country, indeed, when not only the shooter is not recognized, seriously, as a suspect–but that we also determine that he IS guilty, even though he is ONLY a suspect. 

        Just because we think he’s guilty, doesn’t mean that he is.

    • Anonymous

      Why has the Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman case received such attention and made it the Rodney King case of 2012? For extremely justifiable reasons:

      1. Zimmerman, a civilian and not an officer of the law, openly admitted to shooting a young man who was found to be unarmed, walking on a public sidewalk.  Zimmerman admits to have killing the young, unarmed man, with a firearm.

      2. Aside from the killing, which both parties admit, the other facts of the case are in dispute.  One party, consisting of the Martin family and other witnesses, claims one thing. The other party, consisting of George Zimmerman and his family, claims another thing. Forget the fact that – contrary to Zimmerman’s testimony – the funeral home says the body of Trayvon showed zero signs of injury, scraping, etc. apart from the gunshot. Forget the fact that 2 independent audio experts using advanced forensic digital voice analysis determined that – according to their objective statistical analysis of the sound waves – the screaming voice in the 911 call cannot be Zimmerman’s, as his family has claimed.  All that matters is that the facts are in dispute between the two parties.

      3. Zimmerman has not been arrested, nor is he awaiting trial.

      Thus, there is an incontrovertible, impossible-to-defend, absolute and iron case that neither the family of Trayvon Martin nor Zimmerman have received the application of due process or equal protection under the law, as a first degree murder case has not been followed up with an arrest which precedes a criminal trial, which is the standard course of action in any murder case.  The accused is still presumed innocent, but an arrest is still made in all such cases, outside that of a law enforcement agent killing a civilian.

      Whether or not Zimmerman is innocent of a crime is a completely separate matter.  What is completely beyond the point of controversy is that due process is being denied.  As Zimmerman has admitted the killing, there is zero room for debate. None. Whatsoever.  Period. The author of the Stand Your Ground law said that Mr. Zimmerman – as far as he and his fellow lawyers are concerned – would by no means be protected by the law he authored. Either way, an arrest preceding a trial is the customary course of action before a determination to any end can be effected by a court of law. Hence, Due process is being denied. PERIOD.

      • Robert Riversong

        Anyone who concludes an argument, particularly a poorly-reasoned one, with “PERIOD”, merely displays himself as close-minded and obtuse.

        That the author of Stand Your Ground should try to wiggle out of responsibility tells us nothing except the measure of his character.

        If charges were to be brought, it would be manslaughter and not first-degree murder. The chief investigating officer wanted to bring manslaughter charges but was advised by the state’s attorney that it wouldn’t hold up.

        And it wouldn’t hold up because the Stand Your Ground law specifically prohibits police from making an arrest, and prosecutors from making a case, unless there is strong evidence that the claim of self-defense is unfounded. Otherwise, the benefit of the doubt goes to the shooter. The evidence of head injuries to Zimmerman is more than enough to invoke this law.

        It is precisely for this reason that nearly all Florida law enforcement organizations and prosecutorial associations opposed the law, and why Florida judges have said that it ties their hands.

        Yes, due process is being undone, but it is because this ill-begotten law (written by the NRA and ALEC) is an obstacle to justice.

  • Drew You Too

    Great show. For those interested in Consensual Crimes’ enforcement and the resulting effects to our society I recommend checking out: Ain’t Nobody’s Business if You Do: The Absurdity of Consensual Crimes in Our Free Country by Peter McWilliams. So much of the discussion this morning revolved around Drug Policy and Enforcement I just thought this was a book that many might be interested in reading.

    Hope everyone has a great week.

  • Funigi

    I have not read the lengthy posts here so I apologize if I am repeating the thoughts of another person who cares about this nations future.

    I believe that the current right wing agenda of forced morality by denying contraception to women for any reason, I suspect is part of the long term plan to keep the private prison population on a consistent upward trajectory from the lower left to the upper right.

    I have a distant family member who retired from the public prison biz and found a second career in the private incarceration industry. Last we spoke, well over a decade ago he told me that the only sector more profitable was at the time, computer software. It sent chills down my spine. It doesn’t take much intellectual expansion to realize that given the insane profits and low costs of manipulating public policy that these subjects are connected to one and other since a growing under class is great for the bottom line given the absurdly high barrier to entry into such a capital and politically intensive business, people are seen as cattle and African-Americans and the growing resource less poor are just collateral profit centers that can complain.

    • Robert Riversong

      FDR tried to rescue capitalism by giving enough benefits to the underclass and the middle class to keep them satisfied and quiet. 

      The right wing takes a different approach: just lock up the underclass and people of color or confine them to ghettos where they’ll just kill each other off. It’s a simplistic, more profitable, but ultimately far more costly approach.

  • twenty-niner

    More white guilt… Somehow growing up where I did in Chicago made me immune. If white guilt really has you doubled over in the fetal position, I send you a few zip codes to visit for a fairly quick cure. I recommend you bring a few nice watches, a fair amount of cash, and a towel.

    • http://twitter.com/kuroikittee Kittee

      My guess is the implication here is that if you have white guilt this person has knows of neighborhoods to cure it, as is wanting equality is something to be ashamed of. FYI the same slave master that was potentially your grandfather could also be mine. We are ALL Americans. Stop these juvenile tangents, and lets talk about these real, hard, issues that continue to plague American families like adults. #childish

      • American of Mexican descent

        Thank you for giving us the perspective from the angry Black woman’s point of view.

        • Robert Riversong

          That’s a convenient (and racist) dismissal of a very level-headed reply which contained not a hint of anger.

          • American of Mexican descent

            Thank you for giving us the perspective from the unemployed bums point of view.

        • http://twitter.com/kuroikittee Kittee

          Wow, I can only laugh at that because everyone that knows me knows that I am in no way angry. Way to prove that someone can glance at a picture and assume they know you. Not every black woman is the same, and just because I talk about REAL issues does not make me angry.  I am not angry, I am educated. There is a difference. 

          • Questioner

            But then again, so what if a black woman is angry?  Can’t a black woman be angry?  And in this case wouldn’t the anger be justified?  Folks should get angry at injustice and unfair comments.  Anger is not the problem.  The problem is not recognizing when one is angry, as well as not handling that anger properly.  You don’t have to point out that you’re not angry, and even if you do get angry it may be justified.  You can come back with that next time someone accuses you of being an angry black woman, in addition to whatever else you choose to come back with.

      • twenty-niner

        Actually, my grandparents were Russian Jews escaping their own oppression. Thankfully, they taught their kids and grand-kids not to be victims and to be self sufficient. It has served the family very well.

        The victim mentality is a crutch that the power elite in this country never want you to discard, because as long as your are leaning on a crutch, you’ll never be able to run.

        • http://twitter.com/kuroikittee Kittee

          Your grandparents’ struggles are no excuse for your ignorance. It’s easy to blame others of self-victimization when you, yourself, have no clue what you are talking about. This is a releveant issue, just as moving the European Jews into the ghettos was a relevant issue – mass incarceration of a group based upon ethnicity. Stop hiding behind your grandparents triumph to rationalize injustice.

          • twenty-niner

            Hiding behind my grandparents? Ignorant? Let’s examine this. You posited that your grandfather could’ve been a slave owned by my grandfather, the presumed  slave master. I like the choice of the word “grandfather” because that brings slavery to within one generation. The slaves were emancipated in 1863, so my grandfather, to have been involved in the slave trade, would have to have given birth to my father somewhere near the spritely age of 120. To put it another way, we’re coming upon the 150th anniversery of the Emancipation, so let’s leave our grandfathers out of it.

            Secondly, the point of the post was about white guilt. As a kid, I had enough run-ins with black youth wearing hoodies, who weren’t out just getting Skittles, to be 100% USDA guilt free. No racism, but no guilt either.

          • Anonymous

             I always thought there was an unspoken connection between Blacks and Jews. Some of my best friends and lovers were/are Jewish. I think the connection lies in a shared sense of being hated; any young person black or jewish, might deduce, as i did: “wow, if i look at the history of the world i can, objectively, say that so many people, of so many cultures, have hated people that look like me? My face/culture/skin-tone/whatever, has gotten lots of people with those characteristics killed”
            thanks for the honesty in your posts, but I gotta disagree that getting robbed or beat-up is cause for…anything really. Just as how if I get pulled over, it doesn’t mean much. Trust me that I am not trying to invalidate your experience by any means, I’m just saying that white guilt isn’t something you just shrug off.

            In the same vein, black inferiority (the opposite of white guilt) isn’t shruggable offable either.

            I think many americans are looking for reasons to shut out racism and somehow absolve ourselves of the conversation, when what we really want is to get past it. It’s just not that easy…and weather you, twenty-niner, or me are to blame, doesn’t matter as much as what are we going to do about it. 

            Your emancipation point is important, and true, but ignores that the civil rights movement was 50 years ago. It also implies blaming victims of an oppressive system.  The key is recognition that there is a system. In any system, there are victors and victims, sometimes people cross-over, but mostly don’t. to me white guilt, is white anger; I think that people who triumph in the system and recognize that there is a system in place feel kinda bad about it, while others who look like the victors but don’t enjoy the spoils feel anger…i don’t know could be way off there.
             Ah, finally my point; you can walk away from the misdeeds of you parents, and yes OJ’s kids would love it if they could,too, but they can’t. They are more likely to be pulled over, stopped and frisked, and yes, shot while walking, because of the skin they’re in.

            Secondly, all of the disadvantages associated with being black thrown aside, the advantages of not being brown are many, and unless you rejected your first gifted car, new or hand-me-down, or the help with the down-payment on your home, or attending private school, or any filial connections that got you a job, then you enjoy the system. In short, for me, ask yourself if personal responsibility is an easier stance to take when the system has your back.

          • http://twitter.com/kuroikittee Kittee

            I did not misspeak when I placed slavery within one generation, and if you did not know that, I would recommend you learn the facts.

          • twenty-niner

            “Slavery persisted up until World War II”
            Not legally. If your grandfather was a slave in the 20th century, he has quite a story to tell, and I suggest you start working on a book right away.

            Further, I can assure you that my grandfather, who was living in a dirt-poor neighborhood on the West side of Chicago, did not own your grandfather.

        • Robert Riversong

          Yes, the victim mentality serves no one. But, independently of perception, there is a very real history in America of very real victimization of blacks. You confuse personal guilt with collective, social responsibility. That is the mark of a mature person and a mature culture.

          • twenty-niner

            I’m not a big believer in collective responsibility. I’m more in the personal responsibility camp, which means I’m not responsible for my father’s actions or grandfather’s. OJ’s kids would appreciate that perspective as well.

  • maxdaddy

    Dear Mr. Ashbrook:

    There’s nothing new or wrong with On Point’s giving provocative theses an airing.  But giving Michelle Alexander a full hour to repeat and repeat her argument was not very satisfying.  Anyone who knows anything about criminal justice knows about the appalling racial differentials underlying America’s prison population.  So she’s not adding any value there, though, if her book is selling well, maybe there will be developing a new audience for understanding what’s happening.

    But there are many possible explanations for this, even if you just stayed roughly in the camp from which Ms. Alexander plainly comes (and from which, just so you understand, I come too).  So as not to turn this brief comment into a mini-essay, I just note two examples from your own programme.  James Forman’s comments were hardly followed up upon:  Alexander was permitted just to swat them away without being pressed to consider some of their implications.  Yet Forman published a review of Alexander’s book (and another) in the January-February 2011 Boston review which paints are far more complex picture than Alexander’s.  Alexander herself mentioned the work of Harvard’s William Julius Wilson, yet it is hard to imagine Wilson’s subtle scholarship being used to defend Alexander’s thesis.  Having one or both of these men during the hour would have added immeasurably to what I assume is the ultimate point of every hour you present:  that listeners come away hearing clearly what the main guest thinks, but also understanding obvious weaknesses in that thinking.  These weaknesses are clear, I think, even from within her own (and, again, my own) camp.  I leave to others’ imagination how conservative thinkers would react to Alexander’s views.

    No less remarkable was Alexander’s remedy for this, some kind of profound social movement.  How can she advance such a remedy given the sweep of her indictment?  You called it breathtaking, and maybe it is, but sometimes one’s breath is taken away just by the thinness of the air.  Never once, at least in my hearing, did she mention a much more obvious and surgical remedy, which is drug legalization.  Never once did you challenge her to think about this remedy.  No caller mentioned it either.

    One final silence in the hour that troubled me.  To listen to Alexander, dealing drugs is no more obnoxious than selling lemonade on a corner.  That is just nonsense.  Maybe college students dealing drugs don’t have turf wars fought out on the campus quad.  Maybe cocaine-snorting hipsters don’t have turf wars fought out on their front lawns or in their building lobbies.  But the drug business is a violent and sordid world and drug users reinforce this whole world by using drugs.  It’s a world controlled by people with few compunctions about defending their profits.  Almost any inner-city resident can tell you what this means in painful and horrifying detail.

    • Robert Riversong

      The drug trade is a vicious and violent one precisely because it is illegal. The same happened during Prohibition, when the mob and rum-runners were the only distributors of the product.

      And, even though illegal, drugs don’t ruin as many lives and families as alcohol, and no drug has killed more people than tobacco. Yet we tolerate a society in which alcohol and nicotine abuse and addiction are endemic while getting all exercised about a similar, but less destructive, activity and addiction.

      Yes, legalizing drugs would be a step in the right direction, but would do nothing to redressing the deep-seated racism of our culture, or the almost epidemic resort to addictive substances to escape the meaningless lives that our culture offers us.

  • Ruckus

    I was literally sickened by Michelle Alexander’s irresponsibility in describing something called a “stop and frisk.” She said “one police department in one year” conducted x amount of these stops. Which police department was that?  Which year? And where did she get the statistics? I’m not sure which police department would keep statistics on illegal searches in which people are stopped for the express purpose of throwing them on the ground and searching them for no articulable reason. Please!
    The laws governing police authority are very clear and strictly enforced, not to mention the number of lawsuits filed against police agencies in this country by citizens who believe that their civil rights have been violated, or that the police used excessive force or made an improper or illegal arrest. I cry foul!

    • http://twitter.com/kuroikittee Kittee

       Ruckus you will have to read the book to find out.

    • Robert Riversong

      You can “cry foul” ’till the cows come home, but that doesn’t make either Alexanders’ statement false or your ignorant logic right.

      Yes, police do keep such records, and the regulations governing police authority are honored more in the breach than not. The “thin blue line” protects its own.

    • RolloMartins

      “The laws governing police authority are very clear and strictly enforced…” Huh. You didn’t see all those Occupy videos with the police cracking heads and gunning down people with stun grenades (even throwing one NY Supreme Court justice against a wall)…and getting away with everything, did you? Hmmm?

    • Anonymous

       I don’t know where her stats are from, but I suspect it is in the book. But I know for sure in NYC that police officers have the explicit right to approach, stop, frisk, run warrant checks, and a general criminal background check on anyone, anywhere in the city, be they white, black, muslim (looking) and children too. I am directly responding to the “Please!” comment which made it seem as if it were completely ridiculous, which I take issue with. I would have thought the same about “stand your ground” or the “patriot act” that legislators would have struck such a gross use of authority down to the ground…but here we are.

      • Mack

        From what I gathered in the book, police often use thinly veiled
        questions, most times “yes or no” questions to gain consent to search.

        How many people say no to: “Can I talk to you?” from someone
        with weapons, tasers and cuffs with the authority to use them? Especially when,
        unless caught on tape, your peaceful refusal looks like resisting arrest and
        disturbing the peace in police report?

    • Bethany

       I travel interstate 95 everyday for work in RI.  EVERY time I see a car stopped by the state police, in which a traffic violator is out of the car, that person is a black man.  I almost never see a white person outside of his car for a police stop unless the police are there to give roadside assistance (e.g., there’s a flat tire, etc.).  So, what does this mean?  To me it means there is routine racial profiling being practiced by the state police. It seems unlikely that all of those black drivers were stopped for something other than a driving violation.  How many of you white folks have been asked to get out of your car for a speeding violation?  The answer for me is never.

  • American of Mexican descent

    If Michelle Alexander got mugged by a Black guy, I wonder if she would want to have him prosecuted?

    Prosecuting him would be so Jim Crow, even if it was a Black on Black crime.

    • Robert Riversong

      Yup, you’re a true American, all right. Just as ignorant and bigoted as most.

      • American of Mexican descent

        You should work for Al-qaeda. 

        That’s probably the only job that you could be considered over qualified for.

        • Anonymous

          You sound like an adolescent who is losing an argument. Try using reason and some gray matter.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/XF3KPDP4Q6A5P5R5ZAFZ3PWQYY Quash

       I suspect Ms. Alexander would want the mugger prosecuted. I also suspect she would point out the discrepancy if black muggers made up 12% of the general  population but occupied 40% of the prison population. I suspect Ms. Alexander would say that that kind of data suggests that either black muggers mug people at 3x the rate as the general population of muggers or there are zones in which certain laws are enforced to the disproportional detriment of a particular group.

  • Anonymous

    “So far we’ve heard Ms. Alexander state that whether it’s selling drugs, fathers abandoning their families, unemployment, or other myriad social problems, racism must be the cause.”

    Imbeciles who make these kind of statements cannot account for dramatic CHANGE in any social metric, whether it be the rate of incarceration, unemployment rate, workforce participation rate, per capital income per wage quintile, the real value of minimum wage, the rate of homelessness, savings rates or total net worth rates per income quintile, etc.

    Why has the prison population increased by about 4.6
    fold per capita in only 40 years, so that, in 2009, we had 743 per 100,000 behind bars (Kings College of London review 2010) but in 1970, we incarcerated only 161.4 persons per 100,000 (Center for Economic Policy & Research report, June 2010)? Another estimate by the Pew Center for the States in 2008, put the incarceration rate at 1,000 per 100,000, when including those being held for trial but not yet convicted.  By all estimates, the US has – far and away – the highest incarceration rate of any country: with around 25% of the world’s prisoners, it holds only 5% of the world’s population.  Russia has the next highest rate at around 577 or so persons per 100,000 (Kings College London 2010).  The Center for Economic Policy & Research June 2010 report put the Russian rate at 629. The European average, by comparison, was around 100 per 100,000 in 2010 (this statistic holds for both reports mentioned, though the earlier one is in 2008).  France, for example, jailed 96 per 100,000 that year (also holds for both reports).  Yet violent crime rates are similar here as they are in many European countries.

    Again: in 1970, the US incarceration rate was 161.4; in 1980, it was 220.4 (Center for Economic Policy & Research report, June 2010).  So did people suddenly start committing more crimes between 1980 and present, when the incarceration rate per 100,000 is – at the very lowest estimate – 733 and – at a high estimate – 1,000?

    In fact, the opposite is the case!  “In the past 20 years, according to the FBI, violent crime rates fell by 25 percent, to 464 for every 100,000 people in 2007 from 612.5 in 1987″ (New York Times, Feb 28, 2008).  We have so many behind bars today in comparison with our past and in comparison to every other nation on the planet, for three principal reasons:

    1) Criminalization of previously legal behavior.
    2) Dramatic, unprecedented increase in sentencing times, including minimum mandatory sentencing guidelines in many states for non-violent petty crimes (this includes the infamous 3 strikes you’re out laws, in which a person who has, on 3 separate instances, stolen a single item – 2 bikes and a box of cereal in total – can spend life in prison).
    3) Increased conviction rates due to the increased use of plea bargains, and recidivism rates due to previously non-existant tightening of parole requirements, denial of post-incarceration benefits and rights and other unjust
    circumventions of due process. The de facto bar from employment via CORI and other background checks did not used to exist and allowed released inmates to survive via gainful employment after jail time.

    Therefore, the notion that the rates are to be blamed on a lack of “personal responsibility” and “individual accountability” is false, idiotic and insulting.  It is a change in the law which has led the mass incarceration trend, not a change in criminal behavior.

    Why then did the law change?  There is not enough room here to articulate all of the geopolitical and structural economic reasons, but they can and have been identified by many. I summarized some of them in my comment below entitled, “4 more reasons for the War on Drugs.”  Please read that comment. To summarize these reasons quickly:

    1. Latin America: An excuse for Imperialism in Latin America to establish Neoliberal right-wing regimes that will sign favorable trade, “security” and finance agreements with the US such as FTAA, CAFTA-DR, SOUTHCOM and the Inter-American Development Bank.

    2. Mafia: Links between organized crime and Federal Authorities as revealed in Gary Webb’s award-winning “Dark Alliance” series, as well as the Iran-Contra and Fast-and-Furious/Project Gunrunner scandals.

    3. Corporate agenda:
    A. Vote: to suppress the working class vote in key urban areas in a post-Civil rights era and thus prevent increases in the minimum wage, public & affordable housing provision and better education and municipal services provisions (all of which hurt corporate profits). There is enormous and incontrovertible evidence to support this claim.
    B. Wages: to put downward pressure on urban, service sector wages via the creation of an untouchable caste.
    C. Private Prisons: to enrich the private prison industry (CCA and GEO group)
    D. Slave labor: to increase the profits of corporations which use contracted prison labor (e.g. Starbucks and Victoria Secret).

    4. (more speculative than the other reasons) Medical industry suppression of alternative treatments such as cannabis for cancer.

    • Robert Riversong

      In fact, since Ms. Alexander said no such thing, it must be you who is the imbecile – or at least the disingenuous ideologue who needs to build a straw man in order to prop up his own straw argument.

      • Anonymous

        I fiercely defended Ms. Alexander through the entirety of my comment. As is painfully clear by reading what I wrote, the quotation I open with – WHICH I ATTACK AS INACCURATE – is taken from another commentator – StopSpendingNow – who left it elsewhere on this page. I am fully in support of Ms. Alexander and her excellent work, as is blisteringly obvious from my comment.

    • Anonymous

      People who do not believe that a social welfare system which rewards the destruction of the family is responsible for the destruction of the family cling to anything else as the cause of society’s problems.  Why have the rates for incarceration and out-of-wedlock births increased at an alarming rate, starting about the time that the “War on Poverty” was instituted?  Even the most die-hard liberal cannot credibly suggest that racism is worse today than it was before 1964, so it must be something else that caused the collapse of the traditional family and its values.  Of course words like “traditional family,” “traditional values,” and “personal responsibility” are anathema to many liberals, so they look elsewhere for the cause.

      A quote from William F. Buckley:  “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.”  When you see name-calling in a post, you can bet that there’s not much substance backing up the claims.

      • Anonymous

        You confuse the rate of incarceration with the rate of infraction. The rate of incarceration has risen dramatically, while the rate of infraction has fallen. Though this was clearly stated in my initial comment, you may need some extra help:

        People have been committing fewer crimes, but we are locking up 4.6 times as many of them as we did in 1970. Therefore you can’t explain the change by referring to a decline in “individual responsibility,” “values” or a breakdown of the family.  Does this make sense to you, now?  And are all other countries immoral for not criminalizing petty offenses like the US, just to fuel the drive for mass incarceration which, again, is not driven by increased rates of crime?

        If you cannot make these simple distinctions, then you are not worth talking to. Unfortunately, you have the same right to post here as those capable of rational discussion.

        And as a “liberal” I would be the last to bar you from your right to post irrational statements.

  • Esnyder1288

    I wonder if the mass-incarceration of black men will make in into history text books? Probably not, the story of over 500,000 Mexican-Americans (citizens who never lived in Mexico) being deported to Mexico during the great depression isn’t taught in school either.
     Mexican Repatriation Act.

    • Robert Riversong

      History is written by the victor, not the vanquished.

  • Anonymous

    What does she want? “Radical shift” is pretty vague…I think this is dangerous talk that may lead to a backlash against people who have no direct relation to the issue! 

    • Robert Riversong

      All citizens of the United States have a direct relation to the issue, and are in some degree responsible for what our society does.

      In fact, that is the core of republican virtue: moral uprightness and civic responsibility.

      • Anonymous

        I knew someone would reply with that and that’s why I said “direct.” But her defining the issue as a huge culture of Jim Crow is crazy, because if that were the case, revolution would be the best answer, whereas our case is much more nuanced and must be addressed carefully through social education, changes in laws, and better leadership.

        • Robert Riversong

          Crazy? Even if demonstrably true?

          A cultural revolution of values is, in fact, the only way to redress this and so many other defects of the American way of life.

          But that would require that we actually grow up as individuals and as a nation. I don’t hold much hope for that prospect.

      • Anonymous

        If everyone is in some degree responsible, no one is.  Blame the right people. 

        • Robert Riversong

          It’s not about blame. It’s about each of us individually (as a moral agent) and all of us collectively (as a nation) taking responsibility for our culture. Children blame; adults take responsibility. 

          It’s our culture and we accept it and reinforce it by our participation within it and by taking advantage of the benefits it has to offer us. Regardless of who created it in the past, it is still our culture and no one else has responsibility for how it manifests in the present.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=5742869 Ian Campbell

    The Drug War, combined with the Welfare state, is the single greatest drag on our society.  Making drugs illegal does not deal with supply and demand, that comes from the morality of a people, and a morality is not subject to the statutory whims of a government authority.  End the drug war now, it is unconstitutional and violates our liberty and freedoms as responsible adults.

  • expose the truth

    Go to any elite campus and look around you will see plenty of “people of color” they are all Asian and Indian Americans. The highest per capita income is not white people it is Indian 

    American followed by Asian Americans. I worked in a tech group that was majority “people of color” including all of the management. I need to know what the secret plan is that the government has to give these people PhDs and high standards of living? I’ve often heard that a government commission created a special selection process to use these groups against Black Americans. I heard that this commission was created in 1989? The Special Race Recruitment Commission was created in conjunction with the crack trade in the late eighties in order to keep the black population enslaved by the white majority. The government recruited the top students from poor Asian families as part of the “counter intelligence” wing of the CIA and then provided them with easy immigration status. If you look at government emigration policies from Asia and India over the last two decades a recruitment pattern emerges that can not be denied by the establishment. On Point should do a show about these commissions and their part in the war on black america.    

    • expose the truth

      It is common knowledge that Asian and Indian American students are given “special treatment” when it comes to college admissions that black students rarely receive. This bias toward the over representation of these racial groups in higher education is used to disenfranchise black students. I encourage everyone to look at the policy papers written during the early years of the “Morning in America” Reagan regime and you can clearly see how immigration policy was used to disenfranchise the inner city. 

      • twenty-niner

        Special treatment? Such as their score of 1600 on the SAT actually counts?

        • expose the truth

          Look at schools like Harvard, Stanford, MIT and you will see that Asian and Indian students are over represented while Black students are underrepresented. If the playing field were equal these groups should be represented in equal numbers. Systematic cultural “flags” are used in the admissions process to create this bias. The problem is not with the Asian and Indian students but the overclass of white admissions officers who carefully exploit this bias to stratify “people of color”

          • twenty-niner

            “If the playing field were equal these groups should be represented in equal numbers.”
            So whatever the endeavor, if the population breakdown therein doesn’t exactly match that of society at large, there must be racial bias?

            Why is the NBA 82% black? Is that not a level playing field? Are blacks so naturally gifted at basketball that they manage to overcome the immense racial bias that would otherwise keep them out of the NBA?

            The truth of the matter is that black youth play a lot more hardcore street basketball than non-black youth. All of that work gives them an advantage, so they get the starting spots on the high school teams, which puts them even further ahead of the kids on the bench. This leads to college scholarships, and ultimately spots in the NBA.

            To put it quite simply, Asians study the way black youth play basketball.

          • RolloMartins

            I’ve hosted a number of Asians as exchange students. No one studies like them. Their life IS studying. Occasionally they eat, though.

          • expose the truth

            So you think black students don’t study? It is stereotypes like this that keep blacks out of elite schools. These racist stereotypes harm blacks in every way and fill prisons. The underlying stereotype is that certain races are “smart” or “study hard” and certain races do not. This is exactly how white people have constructed society to think and how they split people of color into “smart” and “criminal” stereotypes.

          • Northrt4

            Sorry.  Not the majority in the inner city school where I taught.  You would not believe what I saw there and it would simply be because you would not ‘want’ to.  You would find some other reason to explain why these otherwise studious young folks are all failing.  You would keep doing that until you had instituted a stupid program like “social promotion” whereby we move the kids on just to avoid hurting their self image thereby siphoning off any developing sense of personal responsibility in them.  I have seen it done by you “enlightened” people many times before.

            There are a few decent thoughts here but for the most part this professor and her adherents are full of garbage. 
            Of course there are stereotypes…that is not going to change anytime soon.  Stop bitching about it and trying to sound more enlightened and go help a kid.  If you are doing that and posting here…stop posting here and reading this tripe and go help two kids…..there are plenty in need.  I know you won’t get as many points with your friends but consider helping a white, yellow, or red kid too.
            I can’t read anymore of this.

          • http://twitter.com/kuroikittee Kittee

             It’s not “bitching”. She is illuminating an issue that for the most part, goes unnoticed. Perhaps you have the luxury of ignoring it and/or being frustrated that these issue are being talked about, but some of us do not.luxury

          • twenty-niner

            I went to a high school that was 40% black. I can count the number of black students in the honors program on one finger, and she was a mixed.

            Most of my friends were black and Mexican, because we were all on the soccer team together. They, for whatever reason, were not interested in academics.

            The truth is exposed.

          • http://twitter.com/kuroikittee Kittee

             Wow “a mixed”. I can assure you that Black American do study. I can only imagine that you were fortunate, or perhaps unfortunate, enough to have been sheltered from reality.

          • twenty-niner

            Theydon’tstudy enough.

          • Esnyder1288

            Go to a white lower-income neighborhood and I’m pretty sure you will find kids not into studying either. I think you need to travel more.

          • aj

            India has more people living in miserable poverty, than all of sub-saharan africa.

            My only point is, that the Indian kids here on a student visa are not a representative example of the entire race of -sub continent south asians-.

            Rather, the cream of the crop. So the stereotypes are a factor.

          • Anonymous

            I have an answer to your stereotyping: Benjamen Banneker, George Washington Carver, Rebecca Cole ( first African American woman to graduate from medical school),Dr. Daniel Hale Williams 

          • twenty-niner

            I’m aware of most of these guys and you are arguing from the specific to the general, which is a logical fallacy. 

            Of course, many exceptions can be found to prove the rule. I give you Jeremy Lin.

          • Anonymous

            Wait, you telling me I’m generalizing when you made a gross generalization about blacks, academia and sports?

            Interesting point of view.

    • asc

      Asian culture emphasizes education, obedience to authority, self-control, family, and honor.  From my experience, African American culture emphasizes drugs, sex, sports, and gangs. 

      • http://twitter.com/kuroikittee Kittee

        Well, Asc, my own response would be that you should to meet more Black people. Sure sports are a big part of our culture, but what’s wrong with that? I don’t know of many cultures that don’t have some type of sport that they enjoy. “Sex, drugs, and gang”? SERIOUSLY!? I am beginning to think your “experiences” are limited to “The Wire”. Just because the media depicts us as dangerous sinners does not make it so.

        • aj

          Sock it to em’, Sister!

        • asc

          The fact you don’t realize there’s a problem with the culture of sports is part of the problem.

          Teen pregnancy rates are among African American are among the highest in the US but lowest among Asian Americans. It’s common in Asian American families for even dating to be forbidden in high school; it’s all about school and family.

          What are your popular Black rappers rapping about? Turning the other cheek? Being happily married? The importance of a college degree?

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps we should ask ourselves: What Would Jesus Do?

    The fact that we lock up 4.6 times as many people today (733 per 100,000) as we did in 1970 (161.4 per 100,000) cannot be explained by a decline in “individual responsibility,” nor a rise in the “welfare state,” nor a decline in “family values,” because people are committing significantly fewer violent and serious crimes (like theft and vandalism) today than they were then (violent crime rates fell by 25 percent, to 464 for every 100,000 people in 2007 from 612.5 in 1987).  Also, public investment as a percentage of GDP has fallen substantially since 1980, and eligibility requirements to welfare services are much stricter today than they were in 1980. Yet despite being thoroughly debunked, uninformed, divide-and-conquer, Conservative disinformation agents – some of whom have commented on the page – keep claiming – falsely – that it is the decline in “traditional values” and “individual responsibility” which has led to the mass incarceration epidemic.

    To those conservatives among us who harp on the decline of “traditional family values” and “hard work” as an explanation for social decay, I add the following:

    While I am not a Christian, I agree with them: it is indeed the decline of “Christian Values” that have caused the downfal of our society – the values of charity, compassion and assistance for the poor, downtrodden, disabled, excluded, imprisoned, oppressed, exploited and reviled; the value of cooperation and mutual assistance and not usurious gain or personal profit; the value of simplicity and honesty and the aversion to the accumulation of luxuries, particularly in the hands of the few, while the homelessness rate doubles.

    Christ – as quoted in the Book of Acts – said “It is better to give than to receive.” As quoted in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Christ decried not only the greedy who would not give to the beggars outside their walled mansions (as in the Parable of Lazarus); he also condemned the rich just for being rich (as in the story of the Rich Young Ruler, who walked away in sorrow, after hearing Jesus’ austere dictum: “sell all your possessions, give to the poor and follow me.”)  That’s far more radical than the so-called Socialists many NeoConartists are wont to scathe. On Judgment Day, Christ is quoted as saying that those who, in life, refused to assist and who neglected the naked, the hungry, the thirsty, the immigrants, the sick and the imprisoned would be cast into “eternal punishment” – in short, the Conservative pundits and politicians, not their famed welfare mothers, immigrants, pot-dealers, homeless, or unemployed on Food Stamps.

    St. James says clearly in the 5th chapter of his epistle, that the rich landowners gold coins would “eat their flesh like fire” because they had witheld fair wages from the field workers that they exploited.  He claims that their garments are corrupt and motheaten and that they have heaped treasure up for the last days. Sounds like Stop and Shop, Nike & Walmart CEOs to me.

    St. Paul, in his first letter to Timothy, lays out the case frankly (6:8-10):

    “And having food and clothing, let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

    Jeremiah spake thusly (5:25-29):

    “Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you.

    For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men. As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they have become great, and grown rich.

    They have grown fat, they shine: yea, they overpass the deeds of the wicked: they judge not the cause, the cause of the fatherless, yet they prosper; and the right of the needy do they not judge.

    Shall I not visit for these things? saith the LORD: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?”

    Isaiah concurs (58:6-7):

    “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?
    Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?”

    Indeed, the Conservatives in the GOP – exemplified by extreme, Pharisaical hypocrites like Rick Santorum and Rick Perry – and the corrupt Corporatists in the DNC – exemplified by people like Carl Levin, Blanche Lincoln, the President and most of his cabinet (e.g. Eric Holder) – are wicked men, whose houses full of lies, like a cage is full of birds.  They overlook the greatest of all crimes – the murder of innocent millions for the sake of oil and mineral profit; the gross financial crimes of a few speculators that have driven 10s of millions into poverty across the globe – and instead ensnare the poor and vulnerable, like animal trappers, in order to profit from their loss. They have not loosed the heavy burdens, but piled on more!  They have not released the oppressed from their sweatshops and prisons, but oppressed them even more! They have not brought the poor and the outcasts into their houses, fed and clothed them, but instead they have tried to take from them what little help they have, while enriching their criminal friends with the booty. They have hidden themselves from their own flesh! They are indeed evildoers and they have destroyed our society.

    Jesus supports Universal Health Care, universal public higher education; he wants to end the War on Drugs, 3 strikes laws and plea bargains, private prisons and mass incarceration; he is fighting for universal housing for all, regardless of income or work status; he champions a highly progressive corporate and individual tax rate, unemployment, disability and old age insurance. Jesus wants to tax capital gains at the same rates as income. Jesus wants workers to own at least 50% of all the enterprises in which they work, he is fighting for environmental preservation and restoration against the dirty oil tycoons and the wicked money changers; Jesus wants the end of all wars and has promised that those who live by their bombs will die by them; Jesus supports peace proceedings with Iran, justice for the Palestinians, the end of child labor around the world and the right of all to join a Labor Union without impediment. Jesus advocates for the “least of these”. St. Paul says we should all “bear one another’s burdens,” and embrace cooperation, and not competition. Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and the enemy of war and stands for provision over profit.

    • aj

      Good. The last paragraph was priceless.

    • Azima

      Wow Artisticidea – I couldn’t agree more!  You should be touring churches with your revelations.  Amen!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MFT7UZYYS2GGV7MKJKBLLNJYJY John M

    Professor Alexander is speculating on the case of Treyvon Martin, with stating Zimmerman’s thoughts and intentions, as well as the thoughts and intentions of many throughout the history of the “war on drugs”. This case has not been conclusive so it seems she is entirely biased when assuming this is a crime based on race.

    • Brettearle

      Zimmerman’s guilt is still in doubt, I believe, even though he’s likely guilty.

      I agree with your comments about Dr. Alexander’s expedient assumptions.

      But I doubt, seriously, that African-Americans are treated with equal justice under the law.

    • Anonymous

      She doesn’t assume that Zimmerman was motivated by race, necessarily.  What is really the shocking crime is the fact that Zimmerman has not been taken into custody by the police and that the D.A. is not pressing criminal charges to assess whether or not he is guilty based on a trial. Apparently the “Stand your ground” law is the reason for what – in its absence – would be a denial of due process, even though its author has recently gone on the air and said that the law would never have protected someone in Zimmerman’s circumstances from prosecution.  So, rather than the particular guilt or innocence of George Zimmerman, it is the legal response to Zimmerman’s case – wherein he admits to shooting dead an unarmed civilian walking on a public sidewalk and yet is neither arrested nor taken to a criminal trial for manslaughter, despite many aspects of the case being in dispute – that has put so many in an uproar and given rise to justified allegations of institutionalized racism.

  • B Yesselman

    I am a teacher in Cambridge, MA. Dr. Alexander’s thesis has far reaching implications-are we willing to examine how the new Jim Crow also pertains to public education in the USA? We have the “school-to-prison” pipeline, “zero tolerance” schools, and a near completely segregated school system in our city’s urban centers. I was moved by Dr. Alexander’s book, and think that educators need to think deeply about how the new Jim Crow DOES relate to our schools today. 

    • James

      How should educators apply this idea? More tolerance of drugs and violence in schools?  Should schools try to prevent this cycle by looking the other way rather than handover crime committing students to police? Any thoughts on the matter would be appreciated. 

  • Deupreen

    We have been studying The New Jim Crow in our Courageous Conversations about Race.  The key is for people to read it together and determine what we can do to make things different.

  • Jessie felde

    I am a white male felon for marijuana charges, for 18 years I have been penalized for my past. I have since recieved my bachelors degree in Computer Science & Business,but no one will hire me. New legislation has been in Wisconsin to actuallly allow non-pardoned felons to be fired at their current jobs, just because of a past felony. I commend you Ms Alexander for studying this & bringing it to light. The racism & abuse by the criminal system is real.

    • Conscious9676

       This issue affects Blacks disproportionately, though it must be acknowledged that whites are affected too.

  • http://whilewestillhavetime.blogspot.com/ John Hamilton

    Tom Ashbrook is in over his head on this one, which is not so unusual.  All he can do is play an obnoxious devil’s advocate, when a probing discussion is called for.

    The guest makes the best case possible for the “racist” model of “American” soiciety. Unfortunately, that is only a kind of truth. By its very name, the term “racist” carries the assumption that we live in a world of “racists” and non-”racists.” How about idiots and non-idiots. I’ve lived in this country for sixty-four years, and served in its military for three. Every “racist” I have found has been an idiot first, and “racist” has been just one indication among many idiot behaviors.

    This is not a meaningless distinction. We exalt supposed “racists” as having a belief system, when a belief system might be a level or two above their capacity to think. Both “liberals” and “conservatives” indulge in the belief that there is a real, tangible “left” and “right” on a horizontal spectrum, and by definition the “left” side is the non-”racist,” and the “right” being the “racist.”

    By assuming the existence of the “left” to “right” spectrum, intellectuals posit solutions in terms of placement on the imaginary spectrum. Thus, the solution to a “racist” system of justice is to create some laws affirming such things as post-incarceration voting rights, or job training programs, etc.

    I don’t happen to believe “race” exists, and there is plenty of scientific evidence to back me up. Very few, even in academia, know that there is more genetic diversity on the continent of “Africa” then there is between “Africa” and the rest of the human species. You could more credibly establish races based on other characteristics, such as hand size, nose length, or body hair. 

    By having a “race”-ist ideology – a belief system that says “race” exists, we perpetuate a division of “races.” We self-prevent solutions. I have a simple solution for vacating “racist” institutions like a biased legal system – recognize that these practices are bad for society. Our already failing socio-economic system would rapidly be on the path to sanity by realizing that our society would work much better if we abandon stupidity. We wouldn’t have a “right-wing” hate-o-sphere in our mass communications industry if we didn’t set ourselves up for it with our dumb ideolgical divide.

    • Brettearle

      When we talk about race, in a basic way, we talk about color of skin–even though it means so much more.

      But that is the whole point.  Fair-skinned people judge darker-skinned people, as Martin Luther King explained, by the color of their skin and not the content of their character.

      • Northrt4

        I think you missed the point Mr, King was trying to make.  You are saying that “Fair-skinned people judge darker-skinned people” as if it doesn’t happen the other way around as well. 
        I think lots of people here are missing the point and in a lot of cases misrepresenting it.  Also not helpful.

        • Brettearle

          NO, I am not missing the point.

          If whites were in the minority–and did not hold political power in our country, then, INDEED, I would be missing the point.

          YOU are missing the point much, much more than you realize.

          Ethnic, religious, and political oppression have been going, in the world, since mankind emerged and evolved into civilizations and societies.

          The United States was partially founded on African-American slavery and American- Indian genocide.

          But somebody, with your approach to the way things are, will never see, nor understand, the grim realities of what is ALL before us, and what has been before us, for a long time.

          Also not helpful.

  • Frank

    Jesse Felde is 100% correct. The policital establishment (Republicans mainly) have decided that there are plenty of “good” people so they’re going to abuse “bad” people. Hence, no jobs, no student loans, no food stamps, no voting, etc, etc. Never mind that many of those millions committed a crime in the first place because they couldn’t get a job, didn’t have enough to eat, etc. And meanwhile, George Bush cuts taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Do you see the connection?

    • Northrt4

      Sorry Frank.  That’s just stupid and not helpful.

      • http://twitter.com/kuroikittee Kittee

        I don’t think so. The point about the government’s involvement in the perpetuation of this problem seems spot on, if not clearly stated, to me.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MFT7UZYYS2GGV7MKJKBLLNJYJY John M

    We should be talking less about race and more about class. I’m not sure how courageous this conversation is, since it is a conversation we have been having for decades and always seems to be one sided – blaming the government and the system for all social ills. Drug addiction often leads to crime, and drug use is often correlated with a dysfunction family unit. Police are often the scapegoat – they are blamed for incarcerating drug users and they are blamed for not going in to communities that are overrun with drugs, because they fear the attachment of the racist label and lawsuits. Professors such as Alexander have been making the racism case for years, speculating on feelings and thoughts without the support of empirical research, thus enabling communities to feel no hope. This had done nothing to better communities and allow people to work and better themselves, despite their obstacles.

    • Brettearle

      Who says there isn’t empirical research that supports heavily biased arrests, prosecutions, and convictions?

      I would like to see, however, evidence that evaluates violent crime in drug cases–and how widespread that kind of crime is, across the classes and among various ethnicities.

      Are firearms just as accessible in white neighborhoods?

      I suspect that there is far less commitment to tips, patrols, surveillance, etc, in white neighborhoods. 

    • Susanna

      I believe Ms. Alexander has presented the empirical research–have you read her book?

  • Anonymous

     I just listened to it again and she said it was NY, by the way.

  • Stu

    Getting stopped in my neighborhood as a white guy numerous times here in St Louis makes me glad the cops and the neighborhood folks are out there and working. As for Trayvon, walk up, say Hello, introduce yousrself. That’s all it takes to make a new friend.

    • Brettearle

      You’re ignoring the glaring suspicion that police, across this country, hold for African-Americans.

      It’s no wonder–whatsoever–that African-Americans are suspicious back.  If I had been Martin, I would never have felt comfortable, “walk(ing) up, say(ing) Hello, introduc(ing) myself.”

      Comments, like yours, make you sound like someone, who’s noticeably out of touch.  

      • Stu

        One of my first days when I moved here, I saw a young African-American (Actually Kenyan) man try to stop about 10 people trying to ask a question. Noone would stop. I crossed a rather busy street to see if I could help him…He wanted to know where the nearest post office was. So, if I’m out of touch, I’ll happily live in my world of rainbows and unicorns, and I’ll just keep caring about the guy across the street who might need some help.

    • EH

      I’m a white person living in St. Louis too. Your comments are maddeningly naive. 

      The author hit the nail on the head…as white kids we were able to get caught with pot and laugh and joke with the cop about it, then bitch to our friends about the inconvenience within two hours. We couldn’t even imagine that black kids’ experiences are entirely different.

      • Stu

        Maddenlingly naive, but respect breeds respect. I’ve had an African-American cop stop me at gunpoint, after we determined it was a case of mistaken identity, we shook hands, and he apologized. Jeez, folks, just be nice to each other.

      • twenty-niner

        “The author hit the nail on the head…as white kids we were able to get caught with pot and laugh and joke with the cop about it”

        I’m not sure what cops you were dealing with. The Chicago police were never hesitant to put cuffs on me and take me down to the station.

    • Esnyder1288

      Its too late hes already been murdered

  • Ann

    Thank you for giving this national issue more air time.  It’s important to hear the facts, the numbers, the history, and the actual implications of many state and federal laws.  Mass incarceration is real and should be ended.  In the meantime,  educators and youth leaders must train more young people how to recognize and deal with “authorities” to de-escalate potentially confrontational situations.  

  • Salvageitl

    So what do you say we should do?????

  • Pingback: A New Era Of Jim Crow?

  • Vicki Bamman

    One of the most important interviews I’ve ever heard.  Thank you so much for exposing the brutal truth.  I only hope we’re savvy enough to pay close attention. 
    Vicki Bamman  

  • Concerned

    Who cares what he had in his hands skittles and a drink. That is irrelevant. No one but Zimmerman saw how the young man was carrying himself. Was he acting suspicious? Perhaps, perhaps not. Why does the new media give baised “opinions” instead of facts? My husband had an encounter with a news reporter from Sanford Fl. At the time, he was not too familiar with the case. The reporter told him it was a cold blooded shooting. To which my husband replied, “Yes, thats’s one side of the story.” The reporter quickly replied with, “No, there is only one side to the story.”
    Now that’s someone who would rather have a racial story than facts.
    I support the stand your ground law and as just as there are negative stories about carrying weapons, read the ones that the media and Mr. Clinton don’t want to be heard. I am not sorry, if an intruder regardless of race enters my home and threatens the lives of my family, I am not going to wait and see if they just want my things and leave peacefully, I am protecting my life and my families. Why would I chance that?
    I do not condone racism, but sadly enough, to fight for equality means, give me the same rights as everyone else, but remember “my” culture is of what I am proud.

    • Susanna

      1)  The difference is that Ms. Alexander is not a reporter, she is a legal expert who has written a book based on research, not on opinion.

      2)  ”How the young man was carrying himself” is a totally subjective call on Zimmerman’s part.  It does not justify murder.  
      3)  Zimmerman was told by the police NOT to follow Martin, an order he disobeyed.  4) Martin was talking on the phone with his girlfriend as he walked home from the store.  The girlfriend heard the whole encounter, so we do know what happened.  5)  Finally, Martin did not enter anyone’s house, or threaten anyone with a gun–he did not have a weapon.
      I think you need to do some research of your own–you seem to not to be in possession of the facts of this case. 

      • Greyman

        Dear Susanna: Clarification, please, concerning your 4): TM had been on the phone with his girlfriend while being followed by GZ, but did NPR not report that their connection went dead just prior to the confrontation between GZ and TM? If this is in fact the case, then the girlfriend did not hear the whole encounter (I tend to believe what I recall NPR’s reporting to have been, that the call ended, abruptly or not, just before TM and GZ faced each other–otherwise, why has no transcript or record of the phone call in its entirety come to light, or why has the girlfriend not come forward enough to be noticed publicly?) . . . in which case, we are compelled to rely on forensic science and the testimony of GZ (among the handful of neighborhood auditory witnesses, also): the details of the encounter will come only from GZ, though, in which case your 2) may be no more than half right (again, only assuming the NPR report that the phone call ended prior to the confrontation is itself correct): if the only surviving witness to the altercation is GZ, depending on how he tells his story going forward (compared to how he’s told it thus far), I don’t know that anyone will be able to conclude that the shooting constituted murder. I can see from the outside how it could be construed as murder, but I can also see from the outside how it could be construed only as manslaughter; but I am not mindful of legality enough to know whether Florida’s “stand your ground” law or whether any other laws would permit any kind of LEGAL argument for lethal self-defense. The charge of “murder” seems all suspicion and surmise at this point, if not hyperbolic and hysteric.

        • http://twitter.com/kuroikittee Kittee

          George Zimmerman can and should make those arguments in court. The reason everyone is so outraged is because he hasn’t even been arrested. This would not be the case if the story were the other way around and Trayvon had been the shooter standing his ground. Yet even as I write this, valuable evidence is being lost, and a family must watch as their son’s killer remains free. It’s ridiculous and an indefensible miscarriage of justice.

          • Brettearle

            I don’t think that you’re suggesting that there wouldn’t have been a public outrage if Martin had been the shooter and wasn’t arrested, are you?

            I think you’re obviously suggesting that Martin would have been arrested.

            But you do NOT know that for sure–but you are probably correct–if that’s what you’re alluding to, above….that Martin would have been arrested.

            However, it is also conceivable that Martin might have been released and never prosecuted.

            When I say all of the above, I am not suggesting that Zimmerman is innocent.

            What I am saying is that while the police might have treated the shooter differently, based on the color of his skin, the Stand Your Ground law might have eventually exonerated Martin.

          • http://twitter.com/kuroikittee Kittee

            Whether George Zimmerman is innocent of murder or not is irrelevant. He killed someone. That should be investigated regardless of anything else. More specifically he killed a child. He needs to be arrested and tried for his actions.

            Would there be outrage if the reverse were true? Clearly. I bet many of the same people that rush to GZ’s defense would be looking from the other perspective if the roles were reversed.

            Clearly, I cannot state that the scenario, as I posited, would definitely happen. I cannot read the future, nor am I a mind reader or a medium. However, evidence to support my claim is abundant, such as the fact that they drug tested a body but not the shooter for one thing. So while I cannot say definitively that Treyvon would have been arrested (or perhaps killed) by police responding, I think that the likelihood is more than considerable.

      • Brettearle

        And neither do you own the facts in the case, either.

        Zimmerman may, indeed, be guilty–and I happen to think that he likely is.

        But you are NOT taking into account that Martin could have turned around and confronted Zimmerman, in a way that might have actually threatened Zimmerman.

        Martin might have pursued Zimmerman, when, or if, Zimmerman was returning to his truck.

        Martin might have gone for Zimmerman’s gun.

        Martin might have been pounding Zimmerman’s head, in a way that justifiably frightened Zimmerman, to the point that he needed to protect himself, potentially, as a matter of life and death.

        YOU and I do NOT know what happened.

        You are presuming guilt, when you DO NOT have the facts.

        Regardless of the circumstances and conditions and situations and factors, we may be wrong, if we assume that Zimmerman is guilty.

        It is this presumption of guilt that helps to destroy equal justice in our country–EVEN IF this turns out to be an ugly racist incident, which it very well might be, on the part of watch captain. 

    • Brettearle

      Stand Your Ground, at least in Florida, allows the police to TAKE THE WORD of the killer (As opposed to criminal murderer).

      Absent of any concrete evidence, otherwise, that person can go free.

      THAT is outrageous–and such a law is therefore rife for manipulation, exploitation, and abuse.  

      A court of law needs to decide on such a case.

      Zimmerman may be innocent–but what happened in Florida is one heck of a way to decide that he is innocent.

      And…..if any intruder is in your home and threatens your life and/or the lives of your family, of course you have the right, or ought to have the right, to defend yourself.

      But THAT situation is very different from a partially trained watch captain, who sees some kid, silhouetted, wearing a hoodie. 

  • RChicago

    The prison system is big business and a lot of people are making a lot of money because of it. There are many deals and contracts being made. I believe this is a huge problem that people – especially those paying taxes – should be angered by. Our money is being used to destroy lives and we are spoon fed an unhealthy dose of fear every day via our news channels. We’ve been lulled into thinking we have to put all these “dangerous” people behind bars.

    What about using using the majority of this money for social programs? Of course those greedy jerks benefiting from prison contracts aren’t going to ease their grip on that cash in their hand. That cash rightfully belongs to the tax payers and we need to be more involved in how our money gets spent.

    • Brettearle

      What do you think is the best way for journalists to expose this profiteering that you claim is going on within our prison systems?

      If what you say is true, then many media outlets would be quite committed to making this problem a serious public issue.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_CRTBVXTQSOPGLVECV6HA3NYJZA MoniqueDC

        If you look, Brett, the information is there.  Many data studies and economic studies showing the coorelation between increased prison populations and profiteering from same.   This show did a segment on judicial corruption highlight a case where a judge was sentencing juveniles to prison in exchange for kickbacks.  They removed the judge from the bench, but no prosecution. 
        Face it, fellah.   The system doesn’t like to admit fault.   And big media = Mega Corps and they are not interested in educating the public only in ratings.
        Spend a little time searching the net or (mercy) at a library and you will discover many many facts about the profiteering of our prison system (and, by the way, many countries expunge non-violent offender records after 4-12 years of sucessful probation).   It the US is such a God driven country, why don’t we do the same?   Besides the economics work out to the advantage of the whole society for reintegration of sucessfully reformed former prisoners

        • RChicago

          Thank you for such an informative follow up MoniqueDC. I appreciate all the information you shared. Unfortunately I think Brettearle represents the majority of Americans who believe the prison system is run by “the good people” and that all the people sentenced to prison deserve to be there. I’m not a bleeding heart and I believe the one’s who have committed serious offenses need to be there.

          Morgan Spurlock did a segment on prisons for profit in his show 30 days. It is disturbing that we (I’m guilty too) allow this to happen. I feel like our tax dollars are supporting a lot of corporate criminals.

  • Sowell

    Tom, please contact the economist Thomas Sowell. I’d love to have your audience hear is perspective.

  • Esnyder1288

    To all my fellow black and browns:

    What black and brown young people need to do is support eachother. We need to educate ourselves by hook or by crook, advocate for each other, become employers, hire people like us, and empower the kids younger than us to be proud and ambitious.
    I’m South American and my own little cousin stays out of the sun obsessivly coating her arms and face with sunblock because she gets “too dark”. Her mother taught her to do this.
    We must stop the self-loathing.  
    Read the local “latino” or black community newspaper.
    Stay involved with your community even if you move out.
    Help a young brown or black person get a job.
    Become involved like Ms. Alexander
    When a white person says something racist or classist, SAY SOMETHING, even if it’s at work.
    Take care of our health and fitness
    Set a good example to younger relatives and all children
    Remember, whenever you are the only black or hispanic person in the room, you are representing your people since most white people make huge blanket judgements based on only knowing and handful of black and/or brown people.
    Write down your story, its bound to be interesting
    ~A passionate brown woman

  • sy2502

    People like Michelle Alexander are the worst thing that can happen to African Americans. Instead of asking the black community to take responsibility for the criminals that give them a bad name, she calls their crimes “mistakes” and minimizes breaking the law as something “we all do”. No Mrs Alexander, we don’t all break the law. And those who do should suffer the consequences. She says black males are more likely to be stopped and searched and therefore discovered for drug possession. Here’s a very simple and original solution to that: don’t carry drugs! I don’t agree with the War on Drugs but until we change the laws, we all know that drug offenses will get you in trouble, so knowing that, how about not breaking those laws? 

    • twenty-niner

      …Or just switch to coke.

    • Mary

      This is addressed starting at 16 minutes. 

      • sy2502

        It is not address as Mrs Alexander simply waves it off with “mistake” and “whites do it too but get away with it”. You don’t deal drugs by mistake. You don’t break into a car by mistake and then walk away with its stereo by mistake. Oops, look at that, how did dope end up in my pocket? It’s a really lame excuse to say “but whites do it too and get away with it”. The point isn’t that you should get away with it too, the point is that people shouldn’t break the law period. Instead of looking at what others get away with and consider it a free pass, I should take responsibility of my own actions. Why don’t we hear more people encouraging blacks AND whites to live honest lives? Me, they could stop and search me at every corner, nothing is going to happen to me, you know why? Because I don’t have drugs on me. Simple. 

        • Arnaud

          “whites do it too and get away with it” is not an excuse; if it is true, it is racism, and it is a shame. Racism. That’s much worse than drugs.

    • Carolyn

      If white males were stopped to the same degree as black males are,  there would be more white males in jail than blacks because we know that whites consume MORE drugs than blacks.

    • Susanna

      You weren’t listening.  You need to listen.  And you probably need to learn something about statistics.

      Ms. Alexander was comparing the treatment by police of white teenagers caught with marijuana and the treatment of black teenagers caught with marijuana.  Her generalizations were backed up with statistics:  the white teenagers, more often then not, get a warning , the black teenagers end up in jail for the same crime at a rate disproportionate to the number of black people in the population.

  • Mary

    Michelle Alexander is incredibly articulate. It’s nice to hear such a smart woman on On Point. 

  • Anonymous

    I wholeheartedly agree with the points about the war on drugs and disenfranchisement of ex-convicts. It’s deplorable and hits Black community hardest. Ruining so many lives to prohibit casual marijuana usage, for instance, is as stupid as prohibition in the 1920s, with similar ill-social effects.

    But Alexander shrilly overstates her case. It’s a terrible policy that ends up hurting Blacks, but it’s not deliberate racist policy like Jim Crow. It’s a disservice to history to make such a comparison. Alexander makes its sound like some sort of grand conspiracy.  

    It’s also a mistake to ignore the self-inflicted wounds. African Americans are responsible for their actions. The failure of parents, communities and schools to keep their kids out of drugs and crime is deplorable. We can’t allow all this failure and just blame “racism” year after year. The failure to accept some responsibility for this deplorable condition is one of the reasons it continues.

    • sarah

      “Shrill?” Really?  Ms. Alexander spoke in  pleasant, well modulated tones throughout the interview.  Are you put off by her gender as well as by her race?

      • Anonymous

        Snippy. Not literally her voice, but the affect and tone of her work.

        • Inmemoryofi

          What if Racism IS to blame?.. What happens when you make it illegal for a group of people to learn, make it illegal to live amongst you, give them an education system based only on their lives, and then all of a sudden, they’re free and equal and should live by the standards of a previously racist country?.. Since a lot of money is passed down throughout generations, and blacks weren’t really making much MONEY, then they have nothing to pass to their kids, therefore left to struggle. Now what?

  • Anonymous

    It is a horrible thing that such a disproportion of young blacks, or African-Americans, are incarcerated.  But the truth is that a disproportion of crime is committed by them.  One of the reasons for the drop in crime since the 70s and 80s is the rise in the number incarcerated.  Sad to say, but it is true that when you are in a jail cell you can’t commit the crime you were incarcerated for at least against your original community.  The primary benefit of a drop in crime would be the black or African-American community because they are so often, tragically, the likely victims of  crime.

    I find it sad but interesting that while so many are crying over the admittedly tragic death of Trayvon Martin, hardly anyone is paying any special attention to the far too numerous but just as tragic deaths African-Americans killed by other African-Americans.  

  • http://twitter.com/JLarryBurns Larry Burns

    Great Book

  • http://twitter.com/JoeKutta Joseph Harvey

    I feel that the mass incarceration of blacks is a direct result of the lack of opportunities within black and lower income communities.  In order to combat and ultimately reverse this we not only must make more people aware of the obvious, but there has to me more work done to show our black youth more options.  We are doing a great job glorifying and showing them the wrong options. 

    http://illfotos.net/2012/04/trayvon-and-the-people/ 

  • JamesP

    “Drug offenders make up less than 25 percent of the nation’s total prison population, while violent offenders — who receive little mention in “The New Jim Crow” — make up a much larger share.”

  • Bin

    How comes nobody mentioned the elephant in the room – the corporate prison system that makes billions of dollars in profit on the back of taxpayers?

    When every additional prisoner translates in tens of thousands of $$$ of extra profit, no wonder there are more and more of them.

  • Anonymous

    Read this excellent critique by James Forman, Jr.:

    http://bostonreview.net/BR36.1/forman.php

     

  • http://twitter.com/CopsSayLegalize LEAP

     Find out why more and more cops, judges, and prosecutors who have fought on the front lines of the “war on drugs” are standing up and saying we need to legalize and regulate all drugs to help solve our economic, crime, and public health problems: http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FDAMZDSYFW2WZ3SWC2WZKUKL5M Andrew Page

    M Alexander shows her own biases during the program. (paraphrasing from memory) “If asked to think about a drug dealer, if people are being honest with themselves, will assume a black kid on a corner with baggy pants…”

    really?  everybody will assume that?   Aren’t we getting to the concept of original sin here?  We’re all racists and the only redemption to be found is by toeing Alexanders line and accept her blanket condemnation.

    Bite me!

    • Inmemoryofi

      So when you think of a drug dealer, what race is he?.. I’m sure he’s white..NOW.. because you want to prove a point. What does he look like?

  • Larrycenters37

    With the recent shooting and killing of an unarmed black teenager without an arrest, the points made by this author must be observed as accurate. There is a shifting set of rules & at least two different perspectives when America interprets it’s laws, black & white.

    • Jamesp

      Sorry, you just committed an inductive
      generalization when you took a specific example such as the killing of
      an unarmed black person and used it to prove that the author MUST be accurate
      regarding treatment of all people.  Example of why this is wrong.  The 911 terrorists were Muslim. Therefore all
      Muslims are terrorists.

       

      You can’t apply what you learned from a sample to the whole
      population. The way to prove that something is true is to test it multiple
      times such as taking a population statistic. What happens is that you try to
      prove that it is not false by proving it is true as much as possible.
      Unfortunately, if you take population statistics in regards to violent crimes/felons/repeat
      offenders/ you end up defeating the augments found in Alexander’s book. Her
      main argument revolves around the discrimination that felons endure once
      convicted. The most tempting issue she brings up has to do with the Federal
      Education Loans (felons need not apply). How else could a cycle of crime be
      broken better than educating people out of a life of crime. The real issue in
      regards to this argument has to do with the limited supply of funds available.
      Felons, people under the age of 18, or wealthy people are all prevented from
      receiving these funds so that the rest of the population can have a fair shot.
      The system isn’t seeking to prevent a certain race a chance to receive an
      education.

       

      The idea of many different perspectives is true so our justice
      system uses this to help facilitate fairness through the use of Juries. 

    • Anonymous

       Let’s turn a single incident into a broadbrush and sweeping generalization, shall we?

  • Anonymous

    I listened to this show as I always do while driving home from work. It was a rainy night, I work in New Orleans and live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I have always taken a shortcut through a neighborhood that makes my family a bit nervous, bit I feel fine. As I sat at a red light, I looked up to a schoolbus full of young, 12ish, black boys. They had the windows down in the rain storm, and they were throwing pebbles at my car as they shouted names I’d rather not repeat. I’m an older white woman who teaches at a junior college, mostly to a black population. All I could think of was how sad was the juxtaposition of the words in the story and these children. Who was going to tell them this is not acceptable? Where was the driver?
    There has to be a teacher.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MQTEVH2H5HVRV4F7DWRJWAGEPQ Hondo Gamba

      Peace and I hear you. This whole scene is coming from the destruction  depicted via  the media.

  • Rdraff1

    It takes a man to teach a boy how to be a man.  Can’t tell that to most women or men that was raised with there mothers.  The black woman has chosen to do bad by her self.  Not realizing that when she does bad the black civilization does also.  We can continue to blame everyone else like we’ve been doing for years, or we can be honest with our selves and live right.  The only way to change how others look at us, is  if we change or selves.  I guess blacks aren’t being traumatized enough by the system and each other to learn.  We will have to continue 
    to burn as a nation before we can understand.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MQTEVH2H5HVRV4F7DWRJWAGEPQ Hondo Gamba

    A vast % of black’s men and women have  been dumbed down,brainwashed and made passive to go along with this updated slavery madness.All during the 80′s,90′s and so far in the 2,000′s black’s have been getting fed a steady of mental destruction.I wonder why do so many black’s complain but overall take part in their own self hate and self destruction on a daily.All you have to do is go stand outside one of these hair care product places and watch how many black women of all ages going in and out of these places buying all  these self hating chemicals to spray on  their head,brains.Dont they know that all  this stuff is actually some form of poison that does soak into their  braincells.Then we wonder why so many black family’s are disunited

  • Pingback: Hug-A-Thug – Eradicating Violent Crime from Inner Cities | Enhance The Human Experience

  • http://twitter.com/RaafiAbdRahman Raafi Abdur-Rahman

    South Africa under Aparthied was internationally condemed as a RACIST society.
     South Africa under aparthied (1993) Black Males: 851 (in prison) per 100,000
     United States under George Bush (2006) Black Males: 4,789 (in prison) per 100,000

ONPOINT
TODAY
Apr 24, 2014
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, left, talks with Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-Covina at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, April 21, 2014. Hernandez proposed a constitutional amendment that would ask voters to again allow public colleges to use race and ethnicity when considering college applicants. The proposal stalled this year after backlash from Asian Americans. (AP)

California as Exhibit A for what happens when a state bans affirmative action in college admissions. We’ll look at race, college and California.

Apr 24, 2014
A Buddhist monk lights the funeral pyre of Nepalese mountaineer Ang Kaji Sherpa, killed in an avalanche on Mount Everest, during his funeral ceremony in Katmandu, Nepal, Monday, April 21, 2014.  (AP)

A Sherpa boycott on Everest after a deadly avalanche. We’ll look at climbing, culture, life, death and money at the top of the world.

RECENT
SHOWS
Apr 23, 2014
Attendees of the 2013 Argentina International Coaching Federation meet for networking and coaching training. (ICF)

The booming business of life coaches. Everybody seems to have one these days. Therapists are feeling the pinch. We look at the life coach craze.

 
Apr 23, 2014
In this Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, file photo, Chet Kanojia, founder and CEO of Aereo, Inc., shows a tablet displaying his company's technology, in New York. Aereo is one of several startups created to deliver traditional media over the Internet without licensing agreements. (AP)

The Supreme Court looks at Aereo, the little startup that could cut your cable cord and up-end TV as we’ve known it. We look at the battle. Plus: a state ban on affirmative action in college admissions is upheld. We’ll examine the implications.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
The Week In Seven Soundbites: April 18, 2014
Friday, Apr 18, 2014

Holy week with an unholy shooter. South Koreans scramble to save hundreds. Putin plays to the crowd in questioning. Seven days gave us seven sounds.

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: April 18, 2014
Friday, Apr 18, 2014

Space moon oceans, Gabriel García Márquez and the problems with depressing weeks in the news. Also: important / unnecessary infographics that help explain everyone’s favorite 1980′s power ballad.

More »
Comment
 
Some Tools And Tricks For College Financial Aid
Thursday, Apr 17, 2014

Some helpful links and tools for navigating FAFSA and other college financial aid tools.

More »
Comment