Archive for the ‘The New Jim Crow’ Category

part 1 this is part one of a series

talk about history repeating itself we are seeing that today with the growth of the Hispanic population in America. the things that African Americans went through the Hispanics are going through the same thing but the difference being the slave trade has been replaced with incarceration. let me share with you a story that i heard the other day and from here you can draw the parallels.

as a male prisoner i am very aware of how prisons operates and how it effects the men but i never considered how it effects the women that have kids. when a immigrant woman is locked up her kids are taken into custody at the same time. that is if they are there during the arrest. if they are not there than there is no telling what happens to them if they have no family members here in the states. can you imagine coming home from school to find that your mother is not there and has been taken into custody? the worse part of that is that you cannot go and inquire because your status of being free may change upon inquiry. you are illegal so you have no legal rights to get a lawyer and fight to make sure that justice is served. than you don’t know any of that as you are a child and have not idea what all of this really means. this would be hard to imagine! yet everyday this takes place and people are oblivious to it. draw the parallel of slavery here of when the tribes were raided and Africans where kidnapped to be enslaved. when the child was off somewhere else to return to the tribe after a day of playing and hungry for the days activities, anxious to get home to tell mom about something spectacular that may have happened only to get there and find that the land had been raided and no one left. who raises that child?

when an undocumented woman is locked up for her status here her children are either placed in foster care, more American dollars spent to take care of this child, the child is turned over to other relatives or the child ends up homeless and locked out of society. with that being said it is no wonder that the gangs have become surrogate families for many Hispanics in this country.

when a person of illegal status is locked up the sentences have various ranges from months to years. if a person is released to their country and come back that time doubles, there are guys here that are doing up to 10 years for crossing over into the us. not for crimes but for re-entry. most of them are coming back to reunite with family. the women are willing to risk death, and a host of other crimes against humanity that goes along with cross the middle of the desert with a group of men who are crooked minded, and incarceration just to get reunite with their children. the bond of a mother and child is that strong that they would endure that and risk coming back to prison for a longer term than the first time.

often these women have their minds made up prior to release that they are coming back for these children. this is the same mindset that many women on those slave ships had. all they wanted to do was get back home to their children. they were bribed into thinking that after a certain amount of time they were going to be taken back home to reunite with family. this was to get more production out of them. so when Michelle Alexander talks about mass incarceration and how it parallels slavery and the era of Jim Crow all we have to do it look at the Hispanic issue and make parallels and the picture that she paints becomes clearer.


in response to the questions that were posted by blackinside2012 regarding Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow,

how did we get here? and is it possible to reverse course?

to the first question i will say that the biggest weapon known to man is EDUCATION after having spent 20 years in prison and as i look back i am where i am today because of education. i can even say that the education that i had prior to coming to prison gave me a edge over most inmates. there has to be a renewed effort to change the way that blacks are educated. there has to be an effort within the homes of black families to educate the youth about the mis-education that many of us have received about life and who we are and were supposed to be. even as i write this i have apprehensions as to what term do i use when i talk about this issue, black or afro american. i prefer afro american and that is due to the understanding of  how significant that part of my heritage is to me and what identify with. yet i remember in the early 80s there were discussions in the black communities that surrounded the question of do we identify ourselves as blacks or afro americans. and ironically this was a topic of discussion with many opponents on both sides. yet what i didn’t hear was how do we identify ourselves in terms of morals and values. i think that we got so caught up in the ‘discussion’ of acceptable nominal terms as if this solidified our position and status in this country. so in this we lost ourselves and a part of the struggle was forgotten. there has to be a reinforcement on education. as it was a lack of it that created certain situations that made it easier for blacks to be sucked into this war against blacks by way of drugs. see for those of us can remember the early eighties was the tail of a movement where there was emphasis on black pride and education. this push was so strong and forceful that a government movement was created to stop it COINTELPRO, being one of them. with the death of some of the most prolific black, educated leaders of that time caused other elements that caused many blacks to forget the real issues at hand. blacks have proved themselves to be very intelligent and capable throughout the course of history, whether you agree with their ideology or not is not theh issue. we are talking about them reaching a certain level education to even be able to reach the world podium and get the ears of the masses. with the push of this war on drugs we see that the intended target were the children of that future generation of black youth that followed. as i sit here in prison and compare the time and era in which i came through and now i see the ill effects of the ‘crack babies’ and the broken homes in which they come from. and it shows the most in the mental capacity of these young men. the irony in all of this is that the elder men that have been active users of the drugs at a older age still have better cognitive skills than the younger men that inherited this thing. they older guys that came up in the 60s and 70s are very well aware of the issues that plague them while the youth don’t have a clue. i see this all the time. so these prisions were built for them not just as the prisons that they build today are for those that come after to me.

so how do we stop this? by educating those who will be effected to most by the thing of mass incarceration. that is the beautiful thing about Michelle Alexander’s book it educates.

as to the next question how did we get here? it is understood that certain atrocities took place and that as a result of that there are stereotypes, biases and prejudices that do affect the social status of blacks in this country. but we at the same time have lost touch of what it is to be family and the values of community. to me community is about common/unity. that is what it is to me. we have lost touch with this. and as much as i hate to admit it it i am here in prison as a result of something that i chose to do. yet the idea was planted by someone who looked like me, black. the drugs and guns that come into the community come by way of another black person. the violence that is perpetrated in my neighborhood is done so by those that look like me. as it was pointed out in class. what good is a terry stop if you are not packing or holding? why change the laws of racial profiling when 90% of the time gold is struck? if we want the laws to change and be amended we have to stop breaking them. once this happens these laws will be seen as ineffective in fighting crime and drugs. i am not concerned about the numbers of blacks to whites in who uses to most drugs and gets off etc. what i am talking about is us taking accountability for our own!! there are a million arguments that we can make about racial disparity yet those arguments are not going to stop the violence, rape and murders that are being carried out in the black communities right now. we need action not arguments!! we get the numbers and the studies but who is going to step out on the limb and address these issues. this is the role that have to play and i encourage all of you to play the same role. we say that the white man put us here for whatever reason do you expect for the same one that put you here to get you out? to raise your kids? we complain about the white man and his system yet we turn to them for the answers to our problems. we need to be real and upfront with our own and learn to solve these problems ourselves because we are the ones who suffer the most from these ills.

Inspired by Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow, this tour/exhibition takes place in Chicago this November.  Click link below for more details.

Is mass incarceration the way that the criminal justice system has created a form of modern day slavery?

The author Michelle Alexander speaks of slavery and the birth of mass incarceration.  To me it is the same thing in principle.  According to the author mass incarceration and the way that the criminal justice system targets blacks and browns has taken the place of the Jim Crow laws that made blacks second class citizens and deprived them of certain rights. This is similar to the rights that one loses when they go to prison and later return home. Bear in mind that she focuses on drug laws and the disparity between blacks and whites.  The point that she makes is that often these are non violent offenses and the long term implications, not being able to exercise certain rights, is far worse than the incarceration itself.   The term “ex offender” in itself casts one into a caste system of its own.  So with that having been said it seems apparent there must be an underlying connection to slavery and the way that our criminal justice system works today.

Occasionally on A Voice from the Inside we will feature posts contributed by other inmates currently serving time with Talib.  This post is sent in from an inmate who is also taking the college course that Talib is enrolled in.  They are reading and discussing the book The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.

Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow equates mass incarceration with slavery.  Does this ring a bell of truth?

inmate mentoring program. what are your thoughts? do you think that inmates can serve as role models and mentors for the youth and others that may suffer from what they have experienced? there are a number of inmates who are serving long sentences and have come to a point where they wish to give back to the community. when one is sentenced to a term of imprisonment the idea is to make amends for the crimes and pay a debt back to the society, yet when inmates or ex offenders try to give back to the community and make this amends they are often hindered from doing so. irony at its best. incarceration is not the amends that is implied. that time serves as a time to gain the insight and make the changes that one needs in order to give back to the community. i think that a inmate mentoring program is a good tool to use to advert the influx of juveniles coming to prison. the main idea of Michelle Alexander book is to come up with ways to stop or at the least slow down what is happening in terms of mass incarceration. what better way to get the real word out than to use the voices of those who can better explain the issues that often leads to incarceration. it works two ways. one it gives these inmates a feeling of purpose and fulfillment, something that many of them are not use to. it gives them the chance to really pay back the society by mentoring someone one on the realties of the life of crime and where/what it leads to. and at the same time it saves someone else’s life. let me hear your thoughts!

In her new book, Ms. Alexander addresses issues such as mass incarceration, new drug laws, racial profiling, and other issues that have subsequently come about from President Ronald Reagan’s announcement of a “War on Drugs” in 1982.  At its inception, crime and drug abuse were at a low point in America.  Students from a local college and students from a nearby federal prison are currently studying this book together.  We want to know your thoughts on this complex topic.  Is there a war on drugs? If so, who is the enemy and who are the victims?  Who suffers the most and who benefits from such a campaign?  The poor and helpless people that are stuck in America’s low-income communities, or American citizens in general?  Please share your thoughts and ideas.