HIST 377 Final Exam Identifications

Terms in this set (28)

-Faced with such crimes, he felt black Americans were entitled to secure their rights "by any means necessary" -- up to and including the use of violence. But the violence to which Malcolm X referred was invariably defensive, and for all his harsh rhetoric, it is doubtful that at the end of his life Malcolm X really believed that bullets would solve the problems blacks faced in America
-Nation of Islam teachings: Adrift in prison, Malcolm responded eagerly when introduced to the Nation of Islam (N.O.I.) and the teachings of its imprisoned leader Elijah Muhammad.
->According to Muhammad, blacks were "the original man," destined to rule the world, while whites were a race of devils created by a mad scientist whose time of power was fast coming to an end.
->Elijah Muhammad taught blacks pride in their identity
-> he urged them to live by strict rules of conduct aimed at fostering self-reliance.
->The goal of the Black Muslim was not integration into white society, but separation from it.
- Hate & Self-defense: "Don't love your enemy," Malcolm taught, "Love yourself." He had no use for the non-violence of Martin Luther King, Jr.; Malcolm believed that just encouraged whites to attack blacks with impunity. Don't mistake Black Muslims "for those Negroes who believe in non-violence," he warned one crowd that included whites; if you "put your hands on us thinking that we're going to turn the other cheek -- we'll put you to death just like that."
-Limits of violence: The first was Elijah Muhammad himself, who knew that starting a literal war with white America would be suicidal and who also believed that Allah would bring retribution on the oppressors, sparing Muslims the need to engage in any themselves. The second was Malcolm X's own personality. For all his tough talk, in private Malcolm was invariably polite to those "devils" he would excoriate in public. And the violence he claimed as a right was defensive -- self-defensive, to be precise. Malcolm X never advocated the initiating of violence, and several times he defused situations when a crowd threatened to get out of control. He worked groups up with his fiery speeches, and then worked them back down before anyone got hurt.
-Growth: A pilgrimage to Mecca had made him re-evaluate the notion that all whites were devils. "In the past," he said, "I have made sweeping indictments of all white people. I never will be guilty of that again -- as I know now that some white people are truly sincere, that some truly are capable of being brotherly toward a black man."
->Malcolm began to seek common cause with the civil rights movement, to declare himself for objectives -- like voting rights -- that as a separatist Muslim he had previously thought irrelevant.
->He was ultimately for justice & although his commitment to use any means necessary to reach that justice never wavered, it may be that towards the end Malcolm no longer thought that violence would be one of those necessary means.
-SDS, white New Left
-American Student org, known for its activism against Vietnam War
-intially, SDS chapters were involved in the Civil Rights movement
-Operated under the principles of the "Port Huron Statement"-written by Tom Hayden-founder of SDS & freedom rider in South
>Two issues: racist bigotry in South (Black freedom struggle) & constant fear that came with Cold war
->wanted to create a radically new democratic political movement-a participatory democracy-each and every citizen as an individual participates in political decisions and policies that affect their lives, especially directly rather than through elected representatives
->would reject hierarchy and bureaucracy
->called on moral values rather than politics
->criticizes wealthy for unwillingness to change what benefits them
->criticizes students and university system for not promoting growth, but requiring ppl to follow structure, and encouraging what they believe is unnecessary work. Oppression college students had about college administrators wanting to control their lives and restricting political controversy on campus
->called on students at universities to mobilize and become agents of change
->fear of communism
->politicians lying to public, public feel like have no voice
-"Interracial Movement of the Poor" Tom Hayden & Carl Wittman
->sought nothing less than to abolish poverty
-SDS organized a national march on Washington & then grew increasingly militant, especially about issues relating to the war, such as the drafting of students
-tactics: occupation of university and college administration buildings on campuses across the country
-MFDP
-Recruiting & mass canvassing
-Precint, court & district conventions
-83,000 registered w/ 50,000 to follow
-800 state delegates attended the state convention
-Atlantic City, 1964
-Thousands of files of documents brought with
-FBI taps SNCC rooms & MLK rooms
-Because Mississippi blacks were barred from participating in the meetings of the state's Democratic Party, they decided to form their own party. Mirroring the Democratic Party's official procedure, MFDP held parallel precinct and district caucuses open to all races. With the support of Freedom Summer students and volunteers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), activists gathered signatures of potential black voters for a ''freedom registration.'
-organized to challenge the state's "regular" Democratic party, which had denied blacks the opportunity to participate in the electoral process
-while membership was open to all Mississippians, it primarily consisted of legally disenfranchised (deprived of the right to vote) blacks
-President Lyndon Johnson, however, was fearful of losing white southern votes if the MFDP delegates were seated, and advocated a compromise. After a long sought compromise, Democratic Party leaders offered the Mississippi delegation two seats at large, with no power to vote on any issue being discussed. The group subsequently turned the offer down.
-Though the MFDP failed to unseat the regulars at the convention, they did succeed in dramatizing the violence and injustice by which the white power structure governed Mississippi and disenfranchised black citizens. The MFDP and its convention challenge eventually helped pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
-The mission of the National Guard is rooted in the idea that it is the privilege and responsibility of our able-bodied citizens to be ready at all times to bear arms for the common defense. Holding true to this mandate, the National Guard was called to both state and federal duty during the height of this country's Civil Rights Movement
-Little Rock Nine
->After Little Rock school board votes to integrate schools, National Guard troops prevent black children from attending school. Governor Orval Faubus deployed the Arkansas National Guard to support the segregationist. The sight of a line of soldiers blocking out the students made national headlines and polarized the nation.
->On September 9, the Little Rock School District issued a statement condemning the governor's deployment of soldiers to the school
->By the end of September 1957, the nine were admitted to Little Rock Central High under the protection of the U.S. Army (and later the Arkansas National Guard)
-James Meredith & Integration of Ole Miss
->President Kennedy mobilized the National Guard and sent federal troops to the campus. Meredith registered the next day and attended his first class, and segregation ended at the University of Mississippi.
-Integrating the University of Alabama
->To protect the students and secure their admission, President Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard
-Selma to Montgomery March
->Under protection of a federalized National Guard, voting rights advocates left Selma on March 21, and stood 25,000 strong on March 25 before the state capitol in Montgomery. As a direct consequence of these events, the U.S. Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, guaranteeing every American 21 years old and over the right to register to vote.
-In the 1960s, influenced by the model of a militant black civil rights movement, the "homophile movement," as the participants dubbed it, became more visible. Activists, picketed government agencies in Washington to protest discriminatory employment policies.
-Then, on Friday evening, June 27, 1969, the police in New York City raided a Greenwich Village gay bar, the Stonewall Inn. Contrary to expectations, the patrons fought back, provoking three nights of rioting in the area accompanied by the appearance of "gay power" slogans on the buildings. Almost overnight, a massive grassroots gay liberations movement was born.
- Owing much to the radical protest of blacks, women, and college students in the 1960s, gays challenged all forms of hostility and punishment meted out by society.
-Choosing to "come out of the closet" and publicly proclaim their identity, they ushered in a social change movement that has grown substantially. By 1973, there were almost eight hundred gay and lesbian organizations in the United States
-James Baldwin
->black & gay, NYC
->writer
->I think white gay people feel cheated because they were born, in principle, in a society in which they were supposed to be safe. The anomaly of their sexuality puts them in danger, unexpectedly.
->Their reaction seems to me in direct proportion to their sense of feeling cheated of the advantages which accrue to white people in a white society. There's an element, it has always seemed to me, of bewilderment and complaint. Now that may sound very harsh, but the gay world as such is no more prepared to accept black people than anywhere else in society.
->As Baldwin understands, the fight against homophobia and racism are undoubtedly entwined through their shared struggle for human dignity.
->gay will never be new black & fight for racial equality is far from over
-Bayard Rustin
->black & gay, NYC
->designed March on Washington
->desegregation protests & open homosexuality
->nonviolent direct action
->helped find CORE (Congress of Racial Equality)
->led Journey of Reconciliation to challenge racial segregation on inter-state buses
->helped King with Montgomery Bus Boycott
->came out during the 80s
->worked to bring AIDs crisis to attention of NAACP
->"Twenty-five, 30 years ago, the barometer of human rights in the United States were black people. That is no longer true. The barometer for judging the character of people in regard to human rights is now those who consider themselves gay, homosexual, lesbian."
-Soon after the events in Birmingham, civil rights leaders announce plans for a mass march in Washington, D.C. to demonstrate for jobs and freedom. Attorney general Robert Kennedy, fearing more violence, is opposed to the plan. But long-time labor and civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin, organizer of the march's logistics, press ahead.
-designed to pressure U.S. gov't into desegregating the armed forces & providing fair working opportunities for AA's
-On August 28, more than 200,000 people gather in peace and unity on the National Mall.
-The speech that will go down in the history books, however, is the one delivered by Martin Luther King as he stands before the Lincoln Memorial. "I have a dream," he declares, "that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character..."
-Though the March on Washington is a triumph, it comes with a tragic coda. Less than three weeks later, in Birmingham, the Ku Klux Klan bombs the 16th Street Baptist Church on a Sunday morning. Fifteen people are injured and four young girls are killed, filling many in the movement with rage.
-Although we haven't solved a lot of these problems today, it allowed civil rights leaders a platform upon which they could frame issues of justice, equality and freedom.
-credited for helping to pass Civil Rights Act of 1964
-march suspended bc Roosevelt established Fair Employment Practices Committee-Exec order 8802
-prohibits discrimination in voting
-It was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson during the height of the American Civil Rights Movement
-By 1965 concerted efforts to break the grip of state disenfranchisement had been under way for some time, but had achieved only modest success overall and in some areas had proved almost entirely ineffectual. The murder of voting-rights activists in Philadelphia, Mississippi, gained national attention, along with numerous other acts of violence and terrorism. Finally, the unprovoked attack on March 7, 1965, by state troopers on peaceful marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, en route to the state capitol in Montgomery, persuaded the President and Congress to overcome Southern legislators' resistance to effective voting rights legislation. President Johnson issued a call for a strong voting rights law and hearings began soon thereafter on the bill that would become the Voting Rights Act.
-The Act establishes extensive federal oversight over elections. Echoing the language of the Fifteenth Amendment, Section 2 of the Act generally prohibits any state or local government from imposing any voting law that results in discrimination against racial or language minorities. Additionally, the Act specifically outlaws literacy tests and similar devices that were historically used to disenfranchise racial minorities.
-The Act also contains "special provisions" that apply to only certain jurisdictions. A core special provision is the Section 5 preclearance requirement, which prohibits certain jurisdictions from implementing any change affecting voting without first obtaining approval from the U.S. Attorney General or the U.S. District Court for D.C. that the change does not discriminate against protected minorities. Another special provision requires jurisdictions containing significant language minority populations to provide bilingual ballots and other election materials.
-the practice of denying, or charging more for, services such as banking, insurance,access to health care, or even supermarkets, or denying jobs to residents in particular, often racially determined areas
-It refers to the practice of marking a red line on a map to delineate the area where banks would not invest; later the term was applied to discrimination against a particular group of people (usually by race or sex) irrespective of geography. During the heyday of redlining, the areas most frequently discriminated against were black inner city neighborhoods
-The use of blacklists is a related mechanism also used by redliners to keep track of groups, areas, and people that the discriminating party feels should be denied business or aid or other transactions.
-Rather than subtly steering individual families towards certain areas or only giving them information on certain racial areas, redlining was a blatant but legally tolerated criteria for financial institutions to decide where to invest.
-Originating in the New Deal, this procedure was a protocol for deciding where federal, state and city funds would go for financial services.
->Affluent middle- and upper-middle-class white areas were outlined in green on a map, meaning that financial services were clear to be rendered and these areas were desirable for investment. Racial areas, specifically African-American neighborhoods, were outlined in red, meaning they were undesirable neighborhood whose residenys were poor and racially mixed.
->These maps were used by banking institutions to construct guidelines for lending money.
-As a consequence, many of these redlined areas, which were also typically located in urban environments as whites tended to move out to the suburbs of America, experienced deterioration on a rapid scale. Since these areas have been neglected and redlined and cannot receive funds from banks to revitalize, they cannot attract businesses, which perpetuates the cycle of poverty. The poverty often leads to crime, and neighborhoods become further neglected because they continue to be unattractive to outside investment, and continue to be redlined by banks. Thus private banks and financial institutions as well as the U.S. government are accused of being responsible for these practices in several instances, which before the Fair Housing Act were widespread and blatant throughout the United States.
-The Negro Family: The Case For National Action
-written by Assistant Secretary of Labor Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a sociologist and later U.S. Senator, Writing to President Lyndon Johnson
-It focused on the deep roots of black poverty in America and concluded controversially that the relative absence of nuclear families (those having both a father and mother present) would greatly hinder further progress toward economic and political equality.
-Moynihan argued that the rise in single-mother families was not due to a lack of jobs but rather to a destructive vein in ghetto culture that could be traced back to slavery and Jim Crow discrimination.
-"The steady expansion of welfare programs can be taken as a measure of the steady disintegration of the Negro family structure over the past generation in the United States"
-"the gap between the Negro and most other groups in American society is widening."
-He also states that due to the failure of the family structure in the lower class that the gap between possibilities for Negroes and other groups will persist in being in-equal, and in favor of other groups. This was based on the continued existence of racism within society, despite the victory that Negroes had won within the context of Civil Rights
-argued that, without access to jobs and the means to contribute meaningful support to a family, black men would become systematically alienated from their roles as husbands and fathers. This would cause rates of divorce, abandonment and out-of-wedlock births to skyrocket in the black community (a trend that had already begun by the mid-1960s)—leading to vast increases in the numbers of female-headed households and the high rates of poverty, low educational outcomes, and inflated rates of abuse that are associated with them.
-Moynihan made a compelling contemporary argument for the provision of jobs, job programs, vocational training, and educational programs for the Black community
-Criticisms
->From the time of its publication, the report has been sharply attacked by Black-American and civil rights leaders as examples of white patronizing, cultural bias, or even racism. Among the complaints lodged at the "Moynihan Report" are the stereotyping of the black family and black men, inferences of inferior academic performance by Black-Americans, portrayals of endemic crime and "pathology" in the black community, and a failure to recognize both cultural bias and racism in standardized tests.
->the report was criticized for threatening to undermine the place of civil rights on the national agenda, leaving "a vacuum that could be filled with a politics that blamed blacks for their own troubles
->Feminist Marxist Critique: Feminists argue the Moynihan Report presents a male-centric view of social problems. A central concern is that Moynihan did not consider basic rational incentives for marriage; he did not account for the possibility that women had historically engaged in marriage in part out of need for material resources, such as adequate wages, otherwise denied via cultural traditions excluding women from most jobs outside the home. Ultimately, it was this shift in gendered power relations and responsibility which Moynihan misspecified and misidentified as a cultural weakness rather than a result of broadening economic distress for men in particular, and a lack of labor demand and poverty-exceeding wages broadly. The feminist-Marxist perspective allows us to account for both the ongoing dissolution of the stereotypical post-WWII American family structure and the continuing stagnation of real wage rates at lower rungs of the income ladder despite decades of contested political and social efforts to strengthen families since the Moynihan Report was first published.
->Also criticized for attempting to divert responsibility, "blaming the victim" attempt to divert responsibility for poverty from social structural factors to the behaviors and cultural patterns of the poor.
-The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, known as the Kerner Commission after its chair, Governor Otto Kerner, Jr. of Illinois, was an 11-member commission established by President Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the causes of the 1967 race riots in the United States and to provide recommendations for the future
-Mounting civil unrest since 1965 had stemmed riots in the black neighborhoods of major U.S. cities, including Los Angeles (Watts Riot of 1965), Chicago (Division Street Riots of 1966), and Newark (1967 Newark riots). In his remarks upon signing the order establishing the Commission, Johnson asked for answers to three basic questions about the riots: "What happened? Why did it happen? What can be done to prevent it from happening again and again?"
-The report berated federal and state governments for failed housing, education and social-service policies. The report also aimed some of its sharpest criticism at the mainstream media. "The press has too long basked in a white world looking out of it, if at all, with white men's eyes and white perspective."
-The report's most infamous passage warned, "Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal."
-Its results suggested that one main cause of urban violence was white racism and suggested that white America bore much of the responsibility for black rioting and rebellion.
- It called to create new jobs, construct new housing, and put a stop to de facto segregation in order to wipe out the destructive ghetto environment. In order to do so, the report recommended for government programs to provide needed services, to hire more diverse and sensitive police forces and, most notably, to invest billions in housing programs aimed at breaking up residential segregation.
-an often overlooked recommendation of the report was for an expansion of police surveillance in order to better deal with further unrest. The Commission recommended that:police departments...develop means to obtain adequate intelligence for planning purposes...An intelligence unit staffed with full-time personnel should be established to gather, evaluate, analyze, and disseminate information on potential as well as actual civil disorders...It should use undercover police personnel and informants.=>The Law Enforcement Assistance Administration released federal funding for local police forces in response
-Criticism
->Conservative critics of the Kerner Report argue that the basis and findings of the report are deeply flawed. They contend that the report exonerates rioters for their behavior and places the blame for their actions on the larger society. The notion that racism created pathological social conditions that lead to the eruption of racial riots, as the Kerner Commission argued, was not supported by the findings of many uncited sociologists. The major riots took place in cities where blacks experienced the least racism; although Los Angeles, Newark, and Detroit were certainly not without racism, it did not compare with that in the deep South.
-Miliken v. Bradley->metropolitan centered desegregation cannot cross district/suburban lines
-Keyes v. School District No. 1 Colorado->not merely prima facie segregation, but intentional
-City of Richmond v. Croson (1989)-narrow tailoring & must search for areas of effect of discrimination
-It took ten years after Brown, but beginning with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the nation committed to desegregation and it worked. Courts and executive agencies consistently supported desegregation plans and from 1968 to 1988, as more schools integrated, academic achievement increased for African American students.
-But, the legal and political tide turned against integration during the 1980s. Courts stopped ordering desegregation plans and began dismantling existing plans - both court-ordered and voluntary. Federal agencies stopped aggressive enforcement and by 1989 schools were beginning to resegregate, reversing many of the academic gains of the previous 20 years.
-Why are schools resegregating?
-> First, beginning in the 1980s, courts turned against desegregation plans - denying new petitions to desegregate schools, ending previous court imposed plans and even striking down voluntary plans created by local school districts. Executive branch agencies have stopped the aggressive campaign to enforce the Brown decision and the Civil Rights Act that was so successful in the 1960s and '70s. At the same time, rapid growth in the Hispanic and African American population and growing income disparities have increased the concentration of minorities in high poverty districts.
-What can change this trend?
->Federal and state laws creating incentives for more affluent schools and districts to enroll transfer students from poor and racially isolated schools, including providing transitional programs for new students and training on diversity issues.
->Federal and state financial incentives to help low-income districts recruit and train teachers.
Increasing federal and state support for intensive academic after-school programs for children in low-income districts.
->Support research and focus public attention on the benefits of diversity for all students, white and minority, including the increased long-term college and economic success experienced by children who are educated in racially diverse schools.
->Ensure that public charter and public magnet school programs are implemented in a way that increases integration, rather than increases segregation as they do now in some districts.
-Through much of American history, race riots meant mobs of whites attacking blacks. There are many examples such as the New York City Draft Riot (1863) and the Detroit race riot (1943). These riots included not only destroying communities, but killing people as well.
-This changed in the aftermath of major achievements in Civil Rights. This time it was blacks rather than whites rioting and the focus seems primarily on the police and property. The riots are unusual in that race, ethnic, religious riots normally was one group coming into another groups neighborhood to attack them. These race riots were blacks rioting and destroying property in their own neighborhoods. Despite the momentous achievement of two landmark Civil Rights Acts, northern cities exploded--the long hot summer (1965).
-It seems incongrous why the riots would occur just at the time that the Civil Rights movement had accomplished its major objectives, ending segregation and achieving voting rights in the south. This would seem a time to celebrate rather than riot. Perhaps the national dialog and new coverage on race was a factor. Much of this was a revelation for whites, but one would think nothing new to blacks. Surely black people living in the inner city had grievances, but it is difficult to see just what was to be accomplished by rioting. This is of course especially true when it burning down your own neighborhoods. Of course rioting is usually not a coherent act.
-Most of the riots were in larger Northern cities. The first major urban riot conducted by blacks was in Watts, a suburb of Los Angeles (1965). Major riots occurred in Newark and Detroit (1967). The rioters did emense damage, often destroying the economic base of the communities affected. The assassination of Dr. King (April 4, 1968) brought spasms of violence in many cities, this time including southern cities. Often this was mixed with local grievances. In Washington, D.C., Stockley Carmichael who helped found the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) gathered an agitated group at 14th and U Street (center of the black shopping district) and demanded that stores close to honor Dr. King's memory. The situation soon turned ugly. Rocks were throne and windows smashed. Looters surged into the clothing stores, five and dimes, liquor, appliance, and other stores. Then the torching began. Three days of rioting followed. The police were totally unable to control the situation. The riots were finally only supressed with over 10,000 U.S. Army trops arrived. More than 1,000 people were injured and 12 people killed. Arrests totaled 6,100. About 900 stores were ruined. The black shopping district was devestated and would take decades to recover.
-more radical phase of the Civil Rights Movement
-aimed at achieving self-determination for people of African/Black descent
-movement was prominent in the late 1960s and early 1970s, emphasizing racial pride and the creation of black political and cultural institutions to nurture and promote black collective interests and advance black values.
-"Black Power" expresses a range of political goals, from defense against racial oppression, to the establishment of social institutions and a self-sufficient economy.
-The Watts Riots, a six-day uprising in the largely black Watts neighborhood in Los Angeles. Yes, a major riot in a California city that left at least 34 people dead, 1,000 people injured, and more than 4,000 citizens arrested.
-in 1965, many Americans, particularly whites, were shocked and dismayed by what appeared to be random acts of civil disobedience, destruction, and looting by blacks in poor neighborhoods.
-the violence in Watts revealed frustrations brewing in black communities, especially in inner-city communities in the North and the West where housing and employment discrimination, white flight, and racial bigotry kept people living in poverty.
-no equality had been won, equality— especially economic equality—seemed increasingly unattainable
-Although the concept remained imprecise and contested and the people who used the slogan ranged from businesspeople who used it to push black capitalism to revolutionaries who sought an end to capitalism, the idea of Black Power exerted a significant influence. It helped organize scores of community self-help groups and institutions that did not depend on Whites. It was used to force black studies programs at colleges, to mobilize black voters to elect black candidates, and to encourage greater racial pride and self-esteem
-Americans had taken a cultural turn to the Right, believing that it was time to rein in women's liberation, the sexual revolution, and the student protest movement against the Vietnam War
-drug/hippie culture seen as this deadly society
-Family Makeup
->In 1960, more than 70 percent of families still looked much like the family of the 1950s, with a man who brought in the family's sole income, children and a stay-at-home wife and mother. Most still embraced traditional gender roles -- men were tasked with working in a career, and women were tasked with keeping the home in order and taking care of the children. By the mid- to late-1960s, however, more women were entering the work force, and the makeup of the family had begun to change.
-Political Backdrop
->The population in the 1960s was youthful, with 70 million baby boomers coming into adulthood. As many were drafted into the Vietnam War, college campuses erupted in protests. Tension between the United States and Russia mounted into the Cold War, which lasted decades. In acts of defiance against the government and traditional society, some people and families chose to leave mainstream culture and attempt to live away from society.
-Women & Mothers
->With the publishing of "The Feminine Mystique" by Betty Friedan in 1963, many women began to leave the role of housewife and start careers of their own. "The Feminine Mystique" chronicled the lives of women who were unhappy and unfulfilled in their traditional roles and encouraged women to seek more. This attitude, along with a changing culture, changed the nature of the typical family. Women began to enter the work force, and, as a result, demanded their husbands assist them more with housework and child care.
-Cultural Influences
->From music to art, the 1960s were a time of change. Sexuality became more open. In 1960, the birth control pill was introduced. Teenagers rebelled with their music; long hair; and in some cases, by dropping out of society altogether. As young people demanded change, family values began to change as well.
-However, the idea that the government should protect the public from corporate excesses, especially in hard times, still had a strong hold on American politics
-Author: Michelle Alexander
-More African Americans are under the control of the criminal justice system today - in prison or jail, on probation or parole - than were enslaved in 1850. Discrimination in housing, education, employment, and voting rights, which many Americans thought was wiped out by the civil rights laws of the 1960s, is now perfectly legal against anyone labeled a "felon." And since many more people of color than whites are made felons by the entire system of mass incarceration, racial discrimination remains as powerful as it was under slavery or under the post-slavery era of Jim Crow segregation.
-Alexander describes how mass incarceration today serves the same purpose as pre-Civil War slavery and the post-Civil War Jim Crow laws: to maintain a racial caste system. Alexander defines "racial caste" as a racial group locked into an inferior position by law and custom. She asserts that Jim Crow and slavery were caste systems, and that our current system of mass incarceration is also a caste system: "The New Jim Crow." The original Jim Crow laws, after slavery ended, promoted racial discrimination in public housing, employment, voting, and education. The powerful Civil Rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s seemingly ended the Jim Crow era by winning the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The book demonstrates, however, that the racial caste system has not ended; it has simply been redesigned.
-Alexander explains how the criminal justice system functions as a new system of racial control by targeting black men through the "War on Drugs." The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, for example, included far more severe punishment for distribution of crack (associated with blacks) than powder cocaine (associated with whites). Civil penalties, such as not being able to live in public housing and not being able to get student loans, have been added to the already harsh prison sentences.
-The author argues that nothing short of a major social movement can end the new caste system. Alexander challenges us to establish a grass-roots movement to deal with the very foundation of the mass incarceration system: "If the movement that emerges to end mass incarceration does not meaningfully address the racial divisions and resentments that gave rise to mass incarceration, and if it fails to cultivate an ethic of genuine care, compassion and concern for every human being - of every class, race, and nationality - within our nation's borders, including poor whites, who are often pitted against poor people of color, the collapse of mass incarceration will not mean the death of racial caste in America. Inevitably a new system of racialized social control will emerge ... No task is more urgent for racial justice today than ensuring thatAmerica's current racial caste system is its last."
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