Thursday, February 23, 2017

The New Jim Crow

          Close your eyes and imagine a world in which blacks are constantly being targeted and profiled for nothing other than color of their skin. Unfortunately, the world I had you imagine just now is the world that we currently live in. As mentioned in my previous blog post, for every step we move forward we regress, or as Michelle Alexander puts it, we experience “a profound sense of deja vu” (Alexander). Jim Crow which can be dated back post slavery, manifest itself again in this era only now taking up a new form: mass incarceration. Under the “first” Jim Crow blacks were forced to live in a world where they were told that they were “equal” to whites but were expected to be “separated’ with living conditions that were way worse than whites. Bathrooms, schools, busses were not fairly available to blacks as they were to whites. Despite the successful efforts by leaders of the Civil Right movements like Dr. King, the mass incarceration epidemic in America is gradually pulling us back into a part of history that we strive everyday to stay away from. Like Jim Crow, mass incarceration was created in order to maintain the racial hierarchy established so many years ago.

           We have see the rates of blacks incarceration skyrocket within the last decade. Sadly this type of discrimination has not only been institutionalized by our government but also legalized considering that we now live in the age of “colorblindness” and it is our government leaders and officials that are often found bringing their racist ideals into the workplace. According to the NAACP, African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population and are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites” (NAACP). In today's society, blacks are guilty until proven innocent while whites are unsurprisingly innocent until proven guilty. With this unjust system of incarceration comes grave misfortunes for the black community. The high rate of black incarceration and media portrayal of blacks in relation to crime has allowed the stereotypes that attribute blacks with criminality to remain prevalent. Perhaps one of the reasons black individuals are being arrested in rates that are unfathomable may be a way like mentioned earlier, to to maintain the racial hierarchy in which the white community stays dominant. In order to prevent the black community from rising, we rather suppress them leaving them helpless and hopeless. We have somehow managed to make mass incarceration our “New Jim Crow”.


  1. You are a great writer, Michelle! The opening pulled me right in. I agree that the "deja vu" feeling has been particularly strong of late for myself as well. Well done! - Miss Kosyla

  2. You brought up some very important points in this post. Although the Civil Rights Movement and legislation such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 saw the "legal end" of racial discrimination in the U.S., this progress was almost immediately suppressed by white politicians through the War on Drugs and mass incarceration. Although African Americans constitute only 13% of the total U.S. population, they make up 40% of the U.S. prison population. This can obviously be attributed to racism in the form of the "New Jim Crow". Mass incarceration tears black communities apart. With many fathers in jail, it is more difficult to provide for a family, thus leading to poverty. All of this reinforces the image of black people in the media, as you stated. Great post! - Carrie Z.