Discussion Board

For this response, I will present to you four excepts from Michelle Alexander’s controversial novel, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”. In a basic summary, Alexander argues how since slavery has been abolished in the United States, proponents of slavery and institutional racism have passed laws, which mimick the social conditions of American pre-slavery. Also, how the infamous Black Codes & “Jim Crow Laws” ensured that Black-Americans remained in economic and social subjection in the United States. These laws, as Alexander argues influences how people view citizens who are a minority and/or criminal.

Here are the excerpts:

“In an era of colorblindness, it is no longer acceptable to use race, explicitly, as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. So we don’t. Rather than rely on race, we use our criminal justice system to label people of color “criminals” and then engage in all the practices we supposedly left behind”.

Those of us who have viewed that world from a comfortable distance yet sympathize with the plight of the so-called underclass tend to interpret the experience of those caught up in the criminal justice system primarily through the lens of popularized social sciences, attributing the staggering increase in incarceration rates in communities of color to the predictable, though unfortunate consequences of poverty, racial segregation, unequal educational opportunities, and presumed realities of the drug market, including the mistaken belief that most drug dealers are Black and Brown. This type of remark was invariably accompanied by nervous laughter, intended to convey the impression that although the idea had crossed their minds, it was not an idea a reasonable person would take seriously.”

“The term mass incarceration refers not only to the criminal justice but also to the larger web of laws, rules, policies, and customs that control those labeled criminals both in and out of prison”

“We avoid talking about the racial caste system in our society because we are ashamed of our racial history. We recognize that mobility may be difficult, but the key to our collective self-image is the assumption that mobility is always possible, so failure to move up reflects on one’s character.”

The excerpts I posted both express how informal and formal social control has influenced the United States overtime. Rather a person believes he or she does not experience social control, they ultimately do everyday. No matter your ethnicity, gender, skin color, or race, people in society are influenced and rely on some form of colorblindness and mass incarceration. Whether the experience is positive or negative, we in society have had experiences with racial informal and formal social control.

For this response, you can respond to one or all of my requests. One, I want you to incorporate the journal article and new articles Professor Vandersip has assigned for you in the racial profiling discussion. Second, I want you to respond to these excerpts with your personal opinions about what Alexander has presented in her book. How does her argument in these excerpts make you feel? Do you agree or disagree with what she says? Lastly, I want you to write about an experience you have had with colorblindness, discrimination, or racial social control; whether was formal and/or informal. Since this is an extra credit discussion, I want quality responses! A vague summary will not receive full credit. I would like to see a minimum of 10 sentences wrote for this discussion. However, if you reach the minimum, this will not guarantee you full credit. For this discussion, I encourage discussion amongst your peers, but it is not required. Also, you can earn up to two points for this post. We look forward to reading your responses and all opinions are welcomed! Don’t be shy. 🙂


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