The New Jim Crow

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Today in Racial Injustice: Missouri Prohibits Black Education(click to learn more at EJI.org)

As we introduced in the previous post, the current theme is how the racialization of incarceration in the United States creates a new legacy of slavery.

Michelle Alexander has explored this topic in detail in her book The New Jim Crow. She describes how after the abolition of slavery, incarceration (and more importantly how it affects Black people) became a new form of slavery of Black bodies.

It’s a powerful, difficult read, but one that so well frames understanding on topics like the “war on crime” and “war on drugs”.

Watch this talk by Michelle as she introduces the topic (note: the thumbnail image in the frame below may look broken in your browser, but it should play!):

This attack on Black bodies, and how they are kept out of important parts of society, continues in this article on How Black Girls are Kept out of US schools. In a similar way to the article we posted on how Black boys are seen as less innocent, Black girls are often seen as “disruptive” and “difficult”. This narrative is similar to the one that has surrounded the Black Lives Matter movement: rather than including young Black voices in our conversations that affect them, they are shut out and silenced.

We end with a topical post, again around education. The confirmation of Betsy DeVos as the new Education secretary of the US government proceeded with much difficulty, particularly focused on her history of supporting charter schools and not being an advocate for improving public school performance. In an act of recent protest, a group of people barred DeVos from entering a Washington D. C. school she’d intended to visit.

Yet, a recent cartoon compared Betsy’s entrance to the school system to the Norman Rockwell’s historic Civil Rights Era image, The Problem We All Live With. This is an egregious co-opting of an image: comparing DeVos’ exclusion from the school system she has shown not to support based on her prior experience, with an image of a young Ruby Bridges being escorted to school as she was trying to get the education that was her Constitutional right. The same school system that Betsy DeVos is tasked with upholding. The racism in our school system (and broader society) comes full circle when creating a false equivalence between a young, brave Black girl seeking an education with a privileged, privately educated white woman who shows no signs of caring about the schooling of Black children in the US.

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