Monday, February 27, 2017

The parallels of the caste system

The racial caste system perpetuated in the form of mass incarceration, despite the achievements of the civil rights movement through political disenfranchisement, all white juries, and the War on Drugs. The racial undercast is defined by Alexander as, "a group defined wholly or largely by race that is permanently Locke out of mainstream, white society by law, custom, and practice." (Alexander 1) This racial undercast is filled by events such as Jim Crow and mass incarceration; these two events may seem dramatically different in definition, but are somehow similar in motivation and goal. Both of these systems were built on the foundation of white supremacy, and the want to exploit the racial biases of poor whites in effort to make a difference politically and economically. One event that was a fall out of mass incarceration was the loss in voting and jury status; without these rights, black men and women were mostly juried by all-white juries in their rulings. All- white juries were notorious to convict these tried African Americans for the longest possible sentencing. The War on Drugs was another leading factor of mass incarceration. The War on Drugs was targeted on low class communities, mainly filled with poor African Americans. These communities would be more heavily searched for drugs than any other location; if one was caught in possession or these drugs, most likely crack cocaine, then they would be sentenced to prison. When President Clinton issued a three strikes policy, mass incarceration skyrocketed. Many of these "prisoners" were imprisoned because it was their third crime, or it was a petty theft but they were sentenced maximum time. 

The racial caste system is still alive today, and although it is underlying more people are beginning to fight the system through the Black Lives Matter Movement and other movements such as this. Men and women are fighting for their voices to be heard, and will not stop till they have succeeded. It is astonishing that these men and women are still suppressed in our society, and that so little has been done for those who are still facing sentencing from the three strike policy. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The era of colorblindness

The era of colorblindness is a time in which the general population and government believes that arrests and criminal repercussions are based on the crime alone, rather than the convicts race. It is a time in which law enforcements believe that they can stop, question, or arrest a person based on a description or race. This “era of colorblindness” was born during the War on Drugs, which was declared in 1982 by President Reagan, and has evolved into a prejudice against black communities. This “war” was designed to go after rural communities where drugs and their dealers were thought to be present. Black men were stopped and questioned randomly on the street or during a pursuit, and were beaten by police officers. Some of these were placed in prison for thought of position, and would take the plea so that they could end their time in prison, but they soon realized that they were branded as a criminal when they had done nothing wrong. One thing that surprised me while reading this lesson was that police departments declared that they “ do not racial profile; we just stop people based on race” (8). It shocked me because in my eyes the two are the same thing; by stating that you are stopping people based on the color of their skin does not give you the right to say that you do not racial profile. You are stopping a person because they fit a discription and not because of an actual crime. The age of colorblindness masks the racial cast by stereotyping certain races for crime and drug abuse; the racial cast hides the fact that black men and women are viewed as criminals. In a survey done in 1995, 95% of people imagined that the profile of cocaine- users and drug traffickers were African Americans. Although white men and women constituted the majority of drug users in 1995, African Americans were still seen as the face of drug dealers. My mom found that when she was reading that the most disturbing article was about the authorization of the LAPD to lethally chokehold suspects. One of these men were Adolph Lyons, a black man who was pulled over by four officers for a burned-out taillight. Lyons lost consciousness and awoke with permanent damage to his larynx. The officers faced no repercussions, and by the time Lyons’ case reached the Supreme Court sixteen men, twelve of which black, had been killed by this deadly practice. My mom said she was especially taken back when the Supreme Court dismissed his case because he lacked “standing”. Over all this reading made me think about how unjust our legal system is, and how law enforcements needs to be taught other ways of communicating rather than violence. It is unjust that so many have a prejudice against another race. In my opinion the age of colorblindness will not end until racial profiling no longer exists.

Law and Order Rhetoric

The conservative "law and order" rhetoric provided a new racial bride to low - and lower- middle class whites by infiltrating impoverished black communities, and "cracking down on crime" (2). Many of these lower class whites lived in neighborhoods near black impoverished communities, but we're never searched at the level of their racial counterparts. Te rhetoric "law and order" was enforced by law enforcement and Southern governors in the late 1950's in an effort to mobilize white oppression. Conservatives would use images of the poor to demonstrate who qualifies as “deserving” and “undeserving” which ultimately led to the racial divide. Poor whites and minorities were forced to compete with equal terms for status and employment. Race was the wedge that so many feared.  Over time the law and order rhetoric failed to dismantle the Jim Crow system, but was extremely appealing to poor whites and the working class, mainly in the South, "who were opposed to integration and frustrated by the Democratic Party's apparent support for the Civil Rights Movement” (2). Low- and lower-middle class whites felt betrayed by the Democratic Party when they announced their support for the Civil Rights agenda, so when the election of 1980 came along many switched to the Republican Party. Poor whites were upset with the treatment that they had been receiving and wanted to see noticeable change within the next presidency. Present Reagan won the election and started his presidency with statements about his belief that his decisions on taxes, crimes, and the general public’s well being were all “color-blind”. After the War on Drugs media frenzy many of these new low- and lower-middle class white republicans started to become “swing voters”. President George Bush created many job opportunities to mobilize low- and lower-middle class whites who once shared democratic beliefs. “Democratic politicians and policy makers were now attempting to wrest control of the crime and drug issues from Republicans by advocating stricter anticrime and anti drug laws- all in an effort to win back the so-called ‘swing voters’ who were defecting to the Republican party” (6). Many decisions were made in effort to win back these voters, but ultimately it led to the divide we see today. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Beginnings and Ends

The commonly understood beginning of Reconstruction was in 1863, after slavery was abolished. During Reconstruction, many whites rejected the new system in which the South was rebuilt. The end of Reconstruction is thought to be in 1877; a time in which the government withdrew troops from the South. Redemption was considered as “the quest by dominant whites for a new racial equilibrium, a racial order that would protect their economic, political, and social interests in a world without slavery” (2). The start of Jim Crow was a reaction to Reconstruction. Since many of troops were withdrawn to the North, African Americans were left defenseless from white supremacists who enacted their own social laws. Many historians believe that Jim Crow ended when the Brown v. Board of Education trial commenced. The Civil Rights Movement began around the time when the White Citizens’ Council was formed after Brown v. Board of Education was decided; it encouraged violent behavior against African Americans. The Council was “formed in almost every Southern city and backwater town, comprised primarily of middle - to upper- middle - class whites in business and the clergy…. passed nearly fifty new Jim Crow Laws” (3). The end of the Civil Rights Movement was between 1964, when the Civil Rights Act was passed, and 1968, marking the beginning more social and legal rights for blacks. 

One of the problematic issues from the Jim Crow laws was the establishment of Ku Klux Klan, a violent racist movement. Because of Jim Crow Laws, many blacks were imprisoned and subject to slave laws. These prisoners were often young black men whose arrests led to prison overcrowding. Another problematic issue was the Segregation Laws; these laws helped to feed white supremacy. However, all of these problematic events led up to the Racial Caste System.  

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Racial Bribe

The racial bribe was a deliberate attempt to drive a wedge between poor whites (English- speaking slaves from the West Indies) and black slaves (who were transported directly from Africa). The plantation owners believed that this "system of bond labor" would reduce the risk of creating an alliance between black slaves and poor whites. This term helped to construct the idea that black slaves were an uneducated and primitive group of individuals, and that whites were supreme and could own them as "chattel" or property. The United States was founded on the belief of equality, liberty, and justice for all; however, the government was also tolerating enslavement. They reconciled this by defining slaves as equal to 3/5th of a man, less than a whole human being. Therefore, American democracy did not apply to them, or so they claimed. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

IAT Test

Over the past couple weeks our class has been learning about confirmation bias and implicit associations. Although we only really started to discuss the topic a couple weeks ago, I have noticed that my mindset and attitude towards certain topics have started to shift. When I first took the IAT, I was a bit confused on the logic of the test, and how correct my results would be. After my first test I started to notice that my mindset is geared to like one object over another; implicit stereotyping was a new concept to me before this project, but now I fully understand why so many believe in it. I received results on the tests that I never really thought of identifying with before. While we were studying the Scottsboro Affair I was challenged to think about how harsh and cruel the justice system was to innocent black young men. It was hard for me to grasp that a population could hold a prejudice over an entire race, and can blame innocent members of that race because they fit a stereotype. After we had finished this topic I started to notice other injustices in society, and realized that it all stems from our own bias’. I definietly learned more about myself and my mindset through this project, and continue to notice how true my IAT results are.