I was listening to legal scholar Michelle Alexander on Fresh Air to day and thinking about Martin Luther King, about my friend Julio Medina and his experience in Sing Sing, and about all that we have talked about here on GMP with regard to race.
I thought about my friend Steve Locke’s post about why he doesn’t want to talk about race anymore.
I thought about my own response to charges of racism.
I thought about my dad in 1964.
And I wondered how far we have really come?
Under Jim Crow laws, black Americans were relegated to a subordinate status for decades. Things like literacy tests for voters and laws designed to prevent blacks from serving on juries were commonplace in nearly a dozen Southern states.
In her book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, legal scholar Michelle Alexander writes that many of the gains of the civil rights movement have been undermined by the mass incarceration of black Americans in the war on drugs. She says that although Jim Crow laws are now off the books, millions of blacks arrested for minor crimes remain marginalized and disfranchised, trapped by a criminal justice system that has forever branded them as felons and denied them basic rights and opportunities that would allow them to become productive, law-abiding citizens.
photo from The New Jim Crow