...Obama's presidency -- the ultimate symbol, we are told, of America's triumph over its ugly history of discrimination, exclusion, and racial caste. This is a time to rejoice, it is said, though we still have a long way to go.
That is the dominant racial narrative today among those who claim to care about racial justice: Look how far we have come, but yes we still have a long way to go.
Here are a few facts that run counter to that racial narrative:
There is a colorblind explanation for all this: crime rates. But crime rates do not explain the sudden and dramatic mass incarceration of African Americans during the past 30 years. Crime rates have fluctuated over the past few decades -- and currently are at historical lows -- but imprisonment rates have soared. Quintupled. And the vast majority of that increase is due to the War on Drugs, a war waged almost exclusively in poor communities of color, even though studies consistently show that people of all colors use and sell illegal drugs at remarkably similar rates. In fact, some studies indicate that white youth are significantly more likely to engage in illegal drug dealing than black youth.
MICHELLE ALEXANDER is a longtime civil rights advocate and litigator. She won a 2005 Soros Justice Fellowship and now holds a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Mortiz College of Law at Ohio State University. Alexander served for several years as director of the Racial Justice Project at the ACLU of Northern California, and subsequently directed the Civil Rights Clinics at Stanford Law School, where she was an associate professor. Alexander is a former law clerk for Justice Harry Blackmun on the U.S. Supreme Court, and has appeared as a commentator on CNN, MSNBC, and NPR. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness is her first book.
click on the book cover above
and visit the official site...