Posts tagged america
Posts tagged america
Matt Wuerker (04/21/2012)
Perhaps greater lies have been told in the past century, but they can be counted on one hand. Racial caste is alive and well in America.
Most people don’t like it when I say this. It makes them angry. In the “era of colorblindness” there’s a nearly fanatical desire to cling to the myth that we as a nation have “moved beyond” race. Here are a few facts that run counter to that triumphant racial narrative:
There are more African American adults under correctional control today — in prison or jail, on probation or parole — than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.
As of 2004, more African American men were disenfranchised (due to felon disenfranchisement laws) than in 1870, the year the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified, prohibiting laws that explicitly deny the right to vote on the basis of race.
A black child born today is less likely to be raised by both parents than a black child born during slavery. The recent disintegration of the African American family is due in large part to the mass imprisonment of black fathers.
If you take into account prisoners, a large majority of African American men in some urban areas have been labeled felons for life. (In the Chicago area, the figure is nearly 80%.) These men are part of a growing undercaste — not class, caste — permanently relegated, by law, to a second-class status. They can be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries, and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education, and public benefits, much as their grandparents and great-grandparents were during the Jim Crow era.
Welcome to America, everybody.
Today is the anniversary (memorial) of the day that the Treaty of Gaudelupe-Hildago was signed.
Never forget. Borders are fiction. Borders came after we were already here.
After journalist arrests at Occupy Wall Street, US drops 27 spots on global press freedom index. Now ranked 47th in the world.
List of countries ahead of US on the Reporters Without Borders global press freedom index:
Finland, Norway, Estonia, Netherlands, Austria, Iceland, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Cape Verde, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, New Zealand, Czech Republic, Ireland, Cyprus, Jamaica, Germany, Costa Rica, Belgium, Namibia, Japan, Surinam, Poland, Mali, OECS, Slovakia, United Kingdom, Niger, Australia, Lithuania, Uruguay, Portugal, Tanzania, Papua New Guinea, Slovenia, El Salvador, France, Spain, Hungary, Ghana, South Africa, Botswana, South Korea, Comoros, Taiwan…
Then the United States of America at #47.
Source: Reporters Without Borders global press freedom index, released today.
The U.S. falls on the Global Press Freedom Index thanks in part to Occupy. Fascinating.
The scale and the brutality of our prisons are the moral scandal of American life. Every day, at least fifty thousand men—a full house at Yankee Stadium—wake in solitary confinement, often in “supermax” prisons or prison wings, in which men are locked in small cells, where they see no one, cannot freely read and write, and are allowed out just once a day for an hour’s solo “exercise.” (Lock yourself in your bathroom and then imagine you have to stay there for the next ten years, and you will have some sense of the experience.) Prison rape is so endemic—more than seventy thousand prisoners are raped each year—that it is routinely held out as a threat, part of the punishment to be expected. The subject is standard fodder for comedy, and an uncoöperative suspect being threatened with rape in prison is now represented, every night on television, as an ordinary and rather lovable bit of policing. The normalization of prison rape—like eighteenth-century japery about watching men struggle as they die on the gallows—will surely strike our descendants as chillingly sadistic, incomprehensible on the part of people who thought themselves civilized. Though we avoid looking directly at prisons, they seep obliquely into our fashions and manners. Wealthy white teen-agers in baggy jeans and laceless shoes and multiple tattoos show, unconsciously, the reality of incarceration that acts as a hidden foundation for the country.
- In this week’s issue, Adam Gopnik writes about mass incarceration and criminal justice in America: http://nyr.kr/A75iOm
Photograph by Steve Liss.