The New Jim Crow
In the book “The new Jim Crow” author Michelle Alexander goes in great about a race-related social, political, and legal phenomena, which is mass incarceration. Mass incarceration is the new form of Jim Crow laws because of its effects are not only similar but in its new form more effective. Mass Incarceration causes racial segregation, racial discrimination, and hinders the advancement of a people through “a tightly networked system of laws, policies, customs, and institutions that operate collectively to ensure the subordinate status of a group defined largely by race.” In the following paragraphs you will learn of the origins of these inhibitory laws as well as how these laws affect African Americans socially, politically, and economically. Black Codes were the beginning of legal oppression. These codes were designed to restrict freed blacks' activity and ensure their availability as a labor force now that slavery had been abolished. For instance, many states required blacks to sign yearly labor contracts; if they refused, they risked being arrested as vagrants and fined and forced into unpaid labor. This was due to one of the defining features of the Black Codes, which was vagrancy law which allowed local authorities to arrest freed blacks and commit them to involuntary labor through convict leasing. Land owners, corporations, and organizations would pay the inmates fines and in return inmates were supposed to work there debt off, a debt that was never ending for most blacks. Post emancipation proclamation African Americans again were in a place of servitude and sub-ordinate status, giving whites of that time a control over African Americans once again without it be called slavery. In 1866 this form of control was legally ended and African Americans were officially free from bondage, but how long would white supremacist let go of their grasp of control and superiority? Not for long following Black Codes were The Jim Crow laws, which were state and local laws in the United States, enacted between 1876 and 1965. The law made racial separation in all public facilities in Southern states of the former Confederacy legal. This began in 1890, a "separate but equal" status for African Americans. The separation led to conditions for African Americans that were inferior to those provided for white, organizing by law a number of economic, educational and social disadvantages. This form of segregation mainly applied to the Southern United States. Northern segregation was generally geared towards segregation in housing enforced by covenants, bank lending practices, and job discrimination, including discriminatory union practices for decades. This makes black advancement in social, economic, and political areas extremely difficult. Once again putting white’s in a position of control as well as giving them advantages which would essentially advance their race while trying to impede the growth of the African American, creating that racial caste system because Jim Crow made race and class one. As a people how could we truly compete in society, in the work force, or in the political arena? Jim Crow was an effective form of control that not only separated blacks and whites but ensured blacks would stay in the middle or low class. Despite the restrictions Martin Luther King Jr and the civil rights movement efforts Jim Crow laws were brought to its end. After the elimination of the Jim Crow laws it seemed white supremacy was at its end and blacks were on the rise. From the looks of America today with a Black president you would think it would be next to impossible for racial oppression to occur. What “The New Jim Crow” explains is how the oppression of minorities still exists and how it’s going on right before our eyes, calling it “The New Jim Crow.” This new “Jim Crow” the book speaks of comes in the form of Mass incarceration. Currently America has the highest incarceration rate out of all...
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