African American Family
Rise in Divorce Rates
Breakdown of the Black Family
Criminal Justice System: Black Male Incarceration and Mortality
The New Jim Crow
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness is a book by Michelle Alexander, a civil rights litigator and legal scholar. Though the conventional point of view holds that systemic racial discrimination mostly ended with the civil rights movement reforms of the 1960s, Alexander posits that the U.S. criminal justice system uses the War on Drugs as a primary tool for enforcing traditional, as well as new modes of discrimination and oppression. These new modes of racism have led to not only the highest rate of incarceration in the world, but also a disproportionately large rate of imprisonment for African American men.
Alexander points out that mass incarceration is "a stunningly comprehensive and well-disguised system of racialized social control that functions in a manner strikingly similar to Jim Crow." The culmination of this social control is what Alexander calls a "racial caste system," a type of stratification wherein people of color are kept in an inferior position. Its emergence, she believes, is a direct response to the Civil Rights Movement. It is because of this that Alexander argues for issues with mass incarceration to be addressed as issues of racial justice and civil rights. To approach these matters as anything but would be to fortify this new racial caste. Thus, Alexander aims to mobilize the civil rights community to move the incarceration issue to the forefront of its agenda and to provide factual information, data, arguments and a point of reference for those interested in pursuing the issue. Her broader goal is the revamping of the prevailing mentality regarding human rights, equality and equal opportunities in America, to prevent future cyclical recurrence of what she sees as “racial control under changing disguise”. According to the author, what has been altered since the collapse of Jim Crow is not so much the basic structure of US society, as the language used to justify its affairs. She argues that when people of color are disproportionately labeled as “criminals”, this allows the unleashing of a whole range of legal discrimination measures in employment, housing, education, public benefits, voting rights, jury duty, and so on.
Alexander argues that the War on Drugs has a devastating impact on inner city African American communities, on a scale entirely out of proportion to the actual dimensions of criminal activity taking place within these communities. During the past three decades, the US prison population exploded from 300,000 to more than two million, with the majority of the increase due to drug convictions. This led to the US having the world's highest incarceration rate. The US incarceration rate is eight times that of Germany, a comparatively developed large democracy. Alexander claims that the US is unparalleled in the world in focusing enforcement of federal drug laws on racial and ethnic minorities. In the capital city of Washington, D.C. three out of four young African American males are expected to serve time in prison. While studies show that quantitatively Americans of different races consume illegal drugs at similar rates, in some states Black men have been sent to prison on drug charges at rates twenty to fifty times those of white men. The proportion of African American men with some sort of criminal record approaches 80% in some major US cities, and they become marginalized, part of what Alexander calls "a growing and permanent "undercaste".
Paradox in the Black Church
African American Health in Early U.S. History
Continuing Health Inequality
Contemporary Health Disparities Experienced by African Americans
|Non-Hispanic Black, Male, All ages||Percent|
|1) Heart disease||23.7%|
|3) Unintentional injuries||7.9%|
|7) Chronic lower respiratory diseases||3.2%|
|8) Kidney disease||2.6%|
|Non-Hispanic Black, Female, All ages||Percent|
|1) Heart disease||23.1%|
|5) Alzheimer’s disease||3.9%|
|6) Unintentional injuries||3.6%|
|7) Chronic lower respiratory diseases||3.4%|
|8) Kidney disease||3.1%|
Contributors and Attributions
Content on this page has multiple licenses. Everything is CC BY-SA other than Paradox in the Black Church and Health Inequality which are CC BY-NC.