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IssaEl21 IssaEl21 is offline
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Question Why Are Their More Nubian's Brother's In Jail Then White ?

AMY GOODMAN: Michelle Alexander—


MICHELLE ALEXANDER: President Clinton—


AMY GOODMAN: Yes, I just wanted to bring it up to President Obama, because this piece you wrote, very interesting, at tomdispatch.com called “The Age of Obama as Racial Nightmare.” Explain.


MICHELLE ALEXANDER: Yes, well, you know, today, people around the globe, people of color in particular, have been celebrating the election of Barack Obama as kind of our nation’s triumph over race and the history of racial caste in America. Yet, the appearance of racial equality, the superficial appearance of racial equality that Barack Obama’s election has afforded, serves to mask a deeply disturbing underlying racial reality, which is that large segments, you know, a majority, of African American men in some urban areas, are either under the control of the criminal justice system or branded felons for life, locked in a permanent second-class status.


This vast new racial undercaste—and I say “caste”, not “class,” because this is a population which is locked into an inferior status by law and by policy—this vast population has been rendered largely invisible through affirmative action and the appearance of success with, you know, a handful of African Americans doing well in universities and corporations. The sprinkling of people of color through elite institutions in the United States, due to affirmative action policies and the limited progress of middle-class and upper-middle-class African Americans, creates the illusion of great progress. It helps to mask the underlying racial reality, which is that a racial caste system has been reborn in the United States. Young men of color, in particular, are labeled as felons, labeled as criminals, at very young ages, often before they even reach voting age, before they turn eighteen. Their backpacks are searched. They’re frisked on the way to school, while standing waiting for the school bus to arrive. Once they learn to drive, their cars are searched, often dismantled in a search for drugs. The drug war waged in these poor communities of color has created generations of black and brown people who have been branded felons and relegated to a permanent second-class status for life.


And the reason for their excommunication from our society, our mainstream society, is for engaging in precisely the same kind of drug activity that is largely ignored in middle-class and upper-middle-class white communities. People often say to me, “Well, if people—if, you know, black and brown men don’t want to be labeled felons, well, then they just shouldn’t commit drug crimes.” But, you know, we have known, as a nation, for a long time now that simply prohibiting drug activity does not lead people to stop using illegal drugs. We learned that lesson with alcohol prohibition. Banning the use of alcohol didn’t discourage many people from using or selling alcohol. And people of color are no more likely to use or sell illegal drugs than whites. Our stereotype of a drug dealer in the United States is of an African American kid standing on a street corner with his pants hanging down. But the reality is that drug dealing happens everywhere in America. Drug markets in the United States, much like our society generally, is relatively segregated by race. Blacks tend to sell to blacks. Whites tend to sell to whites.


AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there for the part one of this interview, Michelle Alexander, but we’re going to ask you to stay after for part two, which we’ll play on Democracy Now! Michelle Alexander, her new book is called The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

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