Thursday, February 23, 2017

Transforming the Racial Bribe

"Both caste systems [Jim Crow and mass incarceration] were born, in part, due to a desire among white elites to exploit the resentments, vulnerabilities, and racial biases of poor and working-class whites for political or economic game," states Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow. One could say that the racial bribe is being portrayed in a new way as mass incarceration. Mass incarceration is what separates working class whites and blacks. Working class whites are less likely to be incarcerated therefore given this sense of power and privilege over blacks. Not only are whites being privileged in social aspects, privilege is also seen through application of the law. One of the many issues with mass incarceration is the legal suppression of black votes. Previously, black votes have been suppressed through literacy tests, grandfather clauses, and poll taxes. Now, in most states, one loses the right to vote when they are incarcerated and sometimes for life. Since the War on Drugs, one in seven back men nationally have lost the right to vote.

To me, it was surprising to hear these facts and statistics. We often hear about the "progress" we have made during the Civil Rights Movement and celebration of Black History Month. If we never teach kids about what is actually happening in the US, the cycle of discrimination will continue. The racial bribe choses to honor whites while acting as if they are equally honoring blacks. As shocking and sickening it is to hear about this racial bribe as mass incarceration, it is important we learn about it so we can try and create justice.

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