In The New Jim Crow, author Michelle Alexander claims that “the superlative nature of individual black achievement today in formerly white domains is a good indicator that Jim Crow is dead, but it does not necessarily mean the end of racial caste” (21). This could connect to the idea that racism continues to have a large impact on today’s society, as seen in the fact that there is a loophole in the 13th Amendment that causes African Americans to get arrested in mass for conducting minor crimes, as addressed in the Netflix documentary 13th. Alexander discusses how “most white people believed African Americans [who were recently freed from slavery] lacked the proper motivation to work, prompting the provisional Southern legislatures to adopt the notorious black codes” (28) that provided labor with slave-like condition and helped restore the South’s economy. Stricter laws were soon passed on African Americans during the Jim Crow era as they were “regulated to [a] second class status” (13th); “vagrancy laws and other laws defining activities such as ‘mischief’ and ‘insulting gestures’ as crimes were enforced vigorously against blacks” (Alexander 31), and any time they “violated” these low-level offences, they were mainly doing so in an “attempt to be recognized as fully complicated human beings” (13th). Aside from mass incarcerations, African Americans were being overrepresented in the news as criminals and “superpredators;” even George Bush Sr. strived on “primitive American fear” by embracing the “fear of black people” in his presidential campaign ads (13th). Criminalizing African Americans is still rampant today, as Barry Paddock examined how the NYPD’s “‘broken windows’ strategy of targeting low-level crimes such as fare evasion helps prevent more serious crimes and gives cops the opportunity to check people for open warrants, weapons and drugs.” Justine Olderman, a managing director at Bronx Defenders, notices that “‘clients charged with theft of services are predominately young, people of color, from under-resourced communities,’” yet she recognizes that “‘the reason (for turnstile jumping) is always the same, poverty,’ [and that] ‘our clients are simply people who are trying to get home, to school, to work, to see their loved ones but don’t have the ability to pay’” (Paddock). Even Sarah Ryley noticed “the correlation between race and summonses was not strong for offenses like motor vehicle violations and unlawful possession of alcohol for a minor, [yet] others (spitting, disorderly conduct, loitering, open container, failure to have a dog license) were more likely to be doled out in predominately black and Hispanic precincts.” She describes “broken windows” policing as “a controversial crime-fighting strategy … that focuses on aggressively enforcing quality-of-life offenses to deter more serious ones,” as she writes how “hundreds of people line up at the city’s dingy summons courts, clutching pink tickets for petty infractions [like] walking through the park after dark, bicycling on the sidewalk, drinking on the street and even spitting.” These three authors appear to be spreading the message that “no one who is white understands the problem of being black in America” (13th).

http://gdurl.com/iunm (“Hundreds of people line up at the city’s dingy summons courts”)

Assignment 4-8, Criminal Justice, ,

2 Comments

  1. Caitlin DilamaniThere needs to be a better solution for these minorities than incarceration because that just ends crime temporarily, not permanently. A permanent end to criminality would be more economic equality among the races because that would alleviate stress and lower the need to resort to illegal practices to get by. Yes, maybe the NYPD also needs to be more lenient with its charges, but in the long run I think a more equitable distribution of wealth would not only help the racially ethnic groups but even increase the safety of our society as a whole. Why don’t we see as many upper class whites getting arrested for the same charges as African Americans and Hispanics? Because they can live comfortably enough to avoid selling drugs and loitering in the park late at night!

  2. There needs to be a better solution for these minorities than incarceration because that just ends crime temporarily, not permanently. A permanent end to criminality would be more economic equality among the races because that would alleviate stress and lower the need to resort to illegal practices to get by. Yes, maybe the NYPD also needs to be more lenient with its charges, but in the long run I think a more equitable distribution of wealth would not only help the racially ethnic groups but even increase the safety of our society as a whole. Why don’t we see as many upper class whites getting arrested for the same charges as African Americans and Hispanics? Because they can live comfortably enough to avoid selling drugs and loitering in the park late at night!

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