Race in Social Problems

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Last semester when I signed up for classes, I thought Sociology 260: Social Problems in the US would be a course where a minimal amount of time would be spent on discussing social problems and a maximum amount of time would be used to discuss public policies to combat such social problems. I wanted to jump the gun. I did not see that in order to implement a public policy, which would be of use, I had to fully understand all facets of the problem. Through these various books and articles, The Condemnation of Little B by Elaine Brown, "The Ghosts of 9-1-1: Reflections on History, Justice and Roosting Chickens," in On the Justice of Roosting Chickens by Ward Churchill, Perversions of Justice: Indigenous Peoples and Angloamerican Law by Ward Churchill, No Equal Justice: Race and Class in the American Justice System by David Cole, Welcome to the Machine: Science Surveillance, and the Culture of Control by Derrick Jensen and George Draffan, "Mastering the Female Pelvis: Race and the Tools of Reproduction," in Public Privates: Preforming Gynecology From Both Ends of the Spectrum by Terri Kapsalis and "Race and the New Reproduction" in Killing the Black Body by Dorothy Roberts, a better understanding came to light on social issues currently seen as problematic like poverty, health care, race and discrimination, gender inequality and crime. In the book The Condemnation of Little B, Brown's central theses is the criminal justice system. Throughout the book the one argument she is constantly supporting is the idea that young black boys, in their early teens, are arrested and put through the criminal justice system in a new age version of lynch-mob justice. The alleged crimes of these young black boys receive much media fanfare, but when they are cleared of any wrong-doing nothing is said about it in the media. She makes her arguments by using the story of Little B as a frame for her theses. By taking his story and stripping away the prosecution's rush to judgment in the investigation and trial; using the words of drug dealers awaiting sentencing and addicts, such as Little B's mother, to ramrod through a conviction in which there was no physical evidence connecting the boy to the killing. To supplement the frame she recaps high profile cases of young black children being arrested and charged for crimes despite evidence to the contrary. The Condemnation of Little B bored me, but at the same time it was a wake-up call. It sparked an interest in me, and I found that in 1999 two-thirds of juveniles on death row are children of colour. Like Little B many of them did not receive proper legal representation or full Constitutional protection. Little B wasn't read his Miranda Right's and maybe it's because I went to school in Rockland County and maybe it's just stemmed from where my family and I stand on a socio-economic level, but I was taught getting read your Miranda Right's was standard. Brown's book to me was a work of protest for all coloured youth who are constantly beind demonized and underrated by the media and society. In "The Ghosts of 9-1-1: Reflections on History, Justice and Roosting Chickens" Churchill's central theses is American Imperialism. The one argument he ramrods throughout the reading is that 9-11 was not a random act of hate; 9-11 was the culmination of 225 years of American Imperialism. He points out that assuming a 15-to-1 US-to-Iraq population ratio, 7.5 million children and 22.5 million adults must die in the US in order to achieve parity with the Iraqis dead from US-imposed sanctions after the first Gulf War. He shows how the dead from 9-11 is minuscule in comparison to the murders we perpetrated around the globe. Using a somewhat controversial comparison, Churchill compares our national criminality and denial to that of German citizens during World War II. He uses the philosopher Karl Jaspers four part formulation of guilt.

"The Ghosts of 9-1-1: Reflections on History, Justice and Roosting Chickens" is...
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