Introduction Institutional racism has shaped Inequality with the help of cultural factors. People have become colliding because of the success of some African-Americans. Opera Is the richest African-American in America but she ranks at number 221 of Forbes 2014 400 richest Americans with three billion dollars. (Forbes, 2014, 1) We also have an African-American in the highest office in the world, The White House. For some reason this has led to the belief that African- Americans are no longer struggling. For some reason when one succeeds that means we all have but that is so far from the truth.
As Michelle Alexander puts It, “The fact that some African Americans have experienced great success In recent years does not mean that something akin to a racial caste system no longer exists. No caste system in the united States has ever governed all black people; there have always been free blacks’ and black success stories, even during slavery and Jim Crow. ” (Alexander, 2010, 21) There have been and always will be those African-Americans or people of any race who will reach the top but that doesn’t mean they take the whole race with them.
There are also those African-Americans who conform to the ways of society. Everybody Isn’t meant to go against the status quo. Everybody wont see something wrong with playing by the rules though they will understand they’re being oppressed. “That reality helps to explain why African American leaders such as Booker T. Washington urged blacks to focus on improving themselves rather than on challenging racial discrimination. It is also why the Civil Rights Movement initially met significant resistance among some African Americans in the South. (Alexander, 2010, 210-211) There has always been a divide between the African-American community but one thing we all can agree on Is hat there is something wrong and it needs to change. History For as long as African-Americans have been trying to gain equality there has been some type of racist institution and cultural factors put up to block any progress. “When it became clear that the old caste system was crumbling… A new one would have to take Its place. (Alexander, 2010, 22) History has shown that the majority feels threatened when any minority gets any type of power. When African-Americans refused to abide by slavery they decided to adopt black codes. The black codes were set up to put limits on free “persons of color” or anyone with at least one-eighth Negro Blood. The Civil rights version of the Black Codes allowed persons of color “to acquire, own and dispose of property, to make contracts; to enjoy the fruits of their labor; to sue and be sued; and to receive protection under the law in their persons and property. (Constitutional Rights Foundation, 1865-1866, 1 p) However It put Limits on who they can marry, “Marriage between a white person and a person of color shall be illegal and void. ” (Constitutional Rights Foundation, 1865-1866, 1 p) They put forth vagrancy laws to pressure freedmen to sign contracts that provided that they could e arrested and imprisoned to do hard labor, but whites had the option to take an oath of poverty instead. Apprentice laws made it so that the children of vagrants and black children could be punished and recaptured If they ran away but also fed, clothed, taught a trade and sent to school.
Then there were laws put for by the courts allowed black witnesses only if the case affected the person or their property. Crimes that they felt were committed by freedmen carried the death penalty like rebellions, arson, burglary, and assaulting a white woman. Minor offenses could result in a whipping or a hiring out. Constitutional Rights Foundation, 1865-1866, 1 p) Then the Reconstruction Era brought the black codes to an end and African-Americans began to advance again.
Slavery was abolished by law; African-Americans were considered full citizens, given due process and protection under the law; they were given the right to vote; destitute former slaves were provided with food, clothing, fuel, and other forms of assistance through the Freedman’s Bureau; and public education was granted to blacks and poor whites. These opportunities gave African-Americans the inch they needed to go the mile. Educated blacks began to populate legislatures, open schools, and start successful businesses. With being allowed to vote came poll taxes, literacy tests and whatever else they could find to prevent blacks from voting.
With political gain came the backlash of Jim Crow laws. (Alexander, 2010, 29-30) “As African Americans obtained political power and began the long march toward greater social and economic equality, whites reacted with panic and outrage. ” (Alexander, 2010, 30) UK Klux Klan went out bombing, lynching and participating in mob violence against Reconstruction governments and leaders. Due to this terrorist campaign, the federal government commenced federal civil rights legislation and funding for the Freedman’s Bureau. In this Jim Crow era, vagrancy laws were enforced vigorously.
These laws opened up the market for convict leasing and convicts were seen as slaves of the state. They had no legal rights and were mostly African-American. This era also brought segregation laws with it. (Alexander, 2010, 31-34) White Supremacy During the Jim Crow era, separate but equal was the supposed law of the land. Even before it was legalized the government needed to enforce it in order to keep from the axing of races. They also knew what the coalition of races could do. Bacon’s rebellion showed them Just how powerful a multiracial alliance could be.
In order for the majority to protect their superior status they relied on other means one of which being, white supremacy. “White supremacy became a religion of sorts. ” (Alexander, 2010, 26) People were taught to believe that whites were superior. It was a consequence of slavery. And once they saw another uprising of a multiracial coalition by the Populists, they proposed segregation laws to drive a wedge between poor whites and African-Americans. They needed to get an uprising of class out of the equation. They taught in their churches that Jesus was white. They only sold white dolls for a long time.
The television showed them that white is beautiful and black is mean and nasty. Since the beginning of our nation, white supremacy has been the real law of the land. This country was built to keep the majority, the majority. Laws are made and kept by the majority. The majority is white. They will push their laws on whomever to maintain their power. I noticed how relevant White Supremacy was when I went to the community service location for The Big Event. I don’t remember exactly where the place was but I do remember someone saying that the area was where poor whites lived.
It amazed me at what they considered poor. There was a car in front of every town home. The townhouses looked nice and well kept. The people were antisocial. It was Just so much different from what I noticed at my first pose culture that Wilson discusses when you were down in the black neighborhood. Even the trash was different. It was more food rappers than alcohol bottles. It Just really amazed me how real white supremacy really is. The New Jim Crow As times moved closer to the Civil Rights time period, the majority switched tactics room segregation to mass incarceration.
The more minorities fought for equal rights the more they realized that they couldn’t get away with it for much longer. They decided to change it up Just a little. They shifted the focus from institutional racism to cultural racism. They made the public think that poor people were poor because of their own doing. They told the American public that people were poor because they were involved in street crime, illegal drug use, and were delinquent. Richard Nixon decided to go at these problems head on by declaring a War on Drugs and making it is public enemy number one. Alexander, 2010, 40-48) In 1982 President Reagan carried on the War on Drugs. At this time people were more worried about race than drugs. They became worried as the funding for agencies enforcing drug laws grew dramatically and the funding for agencies responsible for the care, treatment and prevention was reduced. At the time the drug war had started many African- Americans were suffering due to globalization and denationalization. “The decline in legitimate employment opportunities among inner-city residents increased incentives to sell drugs-?most notably crack cocaine. Alexander, 2010, 51) Instead of the government helping these individuals get Jobs they decided to capitalize on their pain. They exploited blacks to the most degree for the weaknesses they found. It amazed me in the wire to see them legalize drug use. They put all the drug addicts into one section of the city to reduce crime in one district only to find that their behavior wouldn’t change no matter where you put them. Bodies were still popping up, people still found a way to get guns in the free zone, crime occurred even under the watch of the police officers, and they thought this was okay.
Then in the Pursuit- Ego Myth you could see how devastating it was for blacks to lose Jobs and the major change in the economy as well as housing situations once crack came into the picture. One thing everything we watched had in common was the destruction of communities and families due to the outbreak of crack and other drugs. “As a nation, though, we had a choice about how to respond. Some countries faced with rising drug crime or seemingly intractable rates of drug abuse and drug addiction chose the path of drug treatment, prevention, and education or economic investment in crime-ridden communities. Alexander, 2010, 51) Instead of putting our money into drug rehabilitation we decided to go to war. Two billion dollars was allocated for the antiradar crusade which required the military to participate in narcotics control efforts, allowed the death penalty for some drug crimes, and authorized admission of legally obtained evidence in drug trials. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 included mandatory minimum sentencing for distribution of cocaine that were more severe for crack users who happened to be majority black than for powder cocaine user who were majority white.
In 1988 this act authorized public housing to evict tenants who low drug use in or near their home, eliminated federal benefits for those convicted of a drug offense, expanded the use of death penalty for crimes, and new mandatory minimum sentencing. (Alexander, 2010, 51-53) “The results were immediate. As law 56) Just like during the time of Jim Crow laws the prisoners in the Jail system were disproportionately black. Then Bill Clinton came into office and enforced the “three strikes you’re out” law and escalated the drug war. The Clinton Administration’s ‘tough on crime’ policies resulted in the largest increases in federal and state prison inmates of any president in American history. (Alexander, 2010, 56) Each President sought out to be better than the last when it came to the drug war. Before the drug war had even begun, crime in America was reducing. I would hate to think that the things that occurred in The Wire were based on true events. I would hate to think that they pinned drugs on people, legalized drug use until they got caught, or even just harassed African-Americans long enough until they had something substantial to pin on them. Alexander, 2010, 56-57) “More than 2 million people found themselves behind bars at the turn of the twenty-first century, and millions more were relegated o the margins of mainstream society, banished to a political and social space not unlike Jim Crow, where discrimination in employment, housing, and access to education was perfectly legal, and where they could be denied the right to vote. ” (Alexander, 2010, 58) This made way for the New Jim Crow. Just like the President’s during the War on Drugs, conservative white elites also competed with each other to be more oppressive when it came to Jim Crow Laws.
Both have legalized discrimination. (Alexander, 2010, 191-192) “The forms of discrimination that apply to ex drug offenders… Mean that, once prisoners are released, they enter a parallel social universe-?much like Jim Crow-?in which discrimination in nearly every aspect of social, political, and economic life is perfectly legal. Large majorities of black men… Are once again subject to legalized discrimination effectively barring them from full integration into mainstream, white society.
Mass incarceration has nullified many of the gains of the Civil Rights Movement, putting millions of black men back in a position reminiscent of Jim Crow. ” (Alexander, 2010, 192) When a person is convicted of a felony they are giving up their right to vote, right to serve on a Jury, citizenship sights, right to own a home or live in public housing, right to work anywhere they apply to, right to education and have a debt they must pay. In the Jim Crow era the right to vote was taken away by poll taxes, literacy tests, grandfather clauses, and Just like today, felon disenfranchisement laws.
In the Jim Crow era many black defendants had all white Jurors, meaning blacks were excluded from the Jury process much like criminals are today. When you exclude felons or anybody from the rest of society you create segregation. In the Jim Crow era there was legalized racial segregation through the decision of Please v. Ferguson and today there is legalized segregation against felons. Felons are segregated by being put in prisons and are released into the ghetto away from mainstream society. Then there’s the symbolic production of race.
Slavery defined African-Americans as slaves, Jim Crow era defined African- Americans as second-class citizens, and today African-Americans (mostly men) are defined as criminals. (Alexander, 2010, 193-197) “Every racial caste system in the United States has produced racial stigma. Mass incarceration is no exception. Racial stigma is produced by defining negatively what it means to be black. The stigma of race was once the shame of the slave; then it was the shame of the second-class citizen; today the stigma of race is the shame of the criminal. (Alexander, 2010, Racial Stigma and mass incarceration has not been taken lightly by the African- American community. You have very influential rappers like Outpace Shaker, Common, Kenya West, J Cole, and Kindlier Lamar who are speaking out on the injustice. Outpace Shaker has a song called, “Holler if Hay Hear Me” in which he expresses views closely related to Malcolm X. He also criticizes Martin Luther King and discusses the crack epidemic. From block to block we snatching hearts and Jacking marks. And the punk police can’t fade me, and maybe we can have peace someday, G. But right now I got my mind set up.
Looking down the barrel of my nine, get up cause it’s time to make the payback fat. To my brothers on the block better stay strapped, black. And accept no substitutes. I bring truth to the youth tear the roof off the whole school. Oh no, I wont turn the other cheek. In case hay can’t see us while we burn the other week. Now we got a enigma smash, blast. How long will it last ’till the pop’ getting MO’ cash? Until then, raise up! Tell my young black males, blaze up! Life’s a mess don’t stress, test. I’m giving but be thankful that you’re living, blessed. Much love to my brothers in the pen.
See hay when they free hay if not when they shove me in. ” He begins by speaking of the Black Panther movement spreading to win hearts and minds so that there can be peace one day but for now he’s going to avenge his unjustly felled brothers. He’s telling his brothers to stay true to their black selves and stay packed with a gun for protection. He wants the black youth to not conform to the white supremacy being taught in schools. Outpace refuses to turn the other cheek because of his thug like nature. He fights back. He begins to talk about drugs and the escape weed gives him.
He’s seen his brothers smashed due to the crack epidemic started by Reagan and he’s trying to figure out when it will fade and give the poor more money. Until then he wants the youth to fight oppression and not give up while they’re still alive. Last line he basically is saying that he knows the odds are against him so he’ll either be there when his brothers get out or meet them there. Outpace Shaker was very enlightened for a man at his age. Unfortunately he lived by the gun and died by the gun. This one verse eternally could have been in the intro for The New Jim Crow or played in class.
Outpace was ready for war against cops if it came to it. Common is very enlightened as well though recently he has wanted to enjoy the spoils of imperialism so he’s been appealing to White America and the interest of establishment. He has been making ignorant comments like blacks should “extend a hand of love to white supremacy. ” Old Common wrote a song called “A Song for Asset. ” The song is about a member and activist of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army, Asset Luggage Shaker who was charged with murder, attempted murder, armed robbery, bank beery, and kidnapping.
She was under trial for several years before being found guilty of first-degree murder of Officer Forester who was killed during the Turnpike Shootout. There were lights and sirens, gunshots firing. Cover your eyes as I describe a scene so violent. Seemed like a bad dream, she laid in a blood puddle. Blood bubbled in her chest, cold air brushed against open flesh. No room to rest, pain consumed each breath. Shot twice with her hands up. Police questioned but shot before she answered. One Panther lost his life, the other ran for his. Scandalous the police were as they kicked and beat her.
Here Common is speaking about the shootout Asset was convicted of. It reminds me so much of what Black America is and most likely will continue to. So many black lives have been taken due to police brutality. The fact there’s a movement or washrag that says #Handsomeness’s, frightens me. History keeps repeating itself because nothing is being changed. Everything is being covered up and laws are being added to a vague, living, breathing Constitution. Modern day famous rappers like Kenya, J Cole, and Kindlier are still speaking on these same things.
Tuba’s song came out in 1993 and Common in 2000. Kenya released New Slaves in 2013. My momma was raised in the era when clean water was only served to the fairer skin. Doing’ clothes you would have thought I had help but they wasn’t satisfied unless I picked the cotton myself. You see it’s broke enigma racism. That’s that “Don’t touch anything in the store. ” And it’s rich enigma racism. That’s that “Come in, please buy more” “What you want, a Bentley? Fur coat? A diamond chain? All you blacks want all the same things. ” Used to only be insignias, now everybody playing’.
Spending’ everything on Alexander Wang. New Slaves. Kenya begins this song talking about how his mother was raised in the Jim Crow era. Then he starts talking about his line of clothing and how people weren’t satisfied with his work until he went to work overseas making his own clothes. These first two verses he’s referring back to the old racism then he talks about the new racism. Poor blacks can’t go in to stores without being told not to touch anything because they might be stereotyped as thieves. Then it’s the rich racism that affects everyone because everyone wants the latest fashion.
This song took me back to how crack was meant to break blacks and ended up affecting more whites than blacks. Reagan didn’t expect it UT he was willing to let it happen as long as he could incarcerate blacks and be lenient on whites to ensure white supremacy remained. Kindlier Lamar continues on with this notion of a new slave in his song called Vanity Slave. ” For the purpose of this paper I would rather focus on his “The Blacker The Berry’ song. You never liked us anyway, f*** your friendship, I meant it. I’m African-American, I’m African.
I’m black as the moon, heritage of a small village. Pardon my residence, came from the bottom of mankind. My hair is nappy, my d*** is big, my nose is round and wide. You hate me don’t you? You hate my people, your plan is to terminate my culture. You’re f*****’ evil I want you to recognize that I’m a proud monkey… You sabotage my community, making’ a killing’. You made me a killer, emancipation of a real enigma. Kindlier starts this verse by taking himself out of the American culture because the real face of black culture isn’t seen in today’s ideal American Beauty.
Ever since blacks were brought to America they have been considered as the bottom of mankind. He goes on to describe the wonderful yet stereotypical characteristics of black people. Then he goes on to attack the people who enforced slavery, Jim Crow saws, lynching, redlining, segregation, crack epidemic and all institutional and cultural racist ways of keeping black people at the bottom of the totem pole. Then he takes back what was meant to be a racial slur and proclaims it loudly, proud monkey. He then accuses the listener of exploiting blacks and turning them into killers but they can be freed through violence.
My favorite rapper of all time, J Cole brings it home with his song Runaway. “Forget this chain, cause this anti me… We so elated, we celebrated like Obama waited until his last day in office to tell the nation, brothers is getting their reparations. A man can dream, can’t he? No disrespect, in terms of system and was sad to learn that he actually couldn’t bring any. That’s what I get for thinking, this world is fair. They let a brother steer the ship and never told him that the ship was siskin’ but I got other s*** to think about, like my bank account.
Forget that watch, you paid too much for it. You ‘ought to be ashamed. When brothers back home be dreading when the seasons change cause they anti got no heat and they anti got no AC. Walter distribution fired my homier, he Just had a baby. You wonder why it’s been so many B and Ex.’s lately. He starts off by talking about a chain Jay Z gave him but that isn’t him. He’s not going to be another black that proudly flaunt chains, as African-American’s in the slavery era wanted nothing more than to be freed from them.
Black people were excited to get a black president because they thought he would invoke change only to realize he was the captain of a ship that was sinking too deep for him to save. He’s being held back by the system. Even the White House knows how to oppress a black man. Then he starts talking about how so many people that make it are wrapped up into materialism but forget to go back home and elf the people they grew up with. Corporations like Walter fire people all the time but they wonder why it’s been so many breaking and entering. This goes back to the beginning of the war on drugs.
People get fired or Jobs get taken away and they result to either violence or drugs if they can’t get back on their feet soon. Conclusion How do we stop this? How do we stop institutional racism? We start with a conversation. The more people become aware, the more change that will be invoked. People must be aware of the cloudlessness that diseases our country. “The colliding public consensus that prevails in America today-?I. . , the widespread belief that race no longer matters-?has blinded us to the realities of race in our society and facilitated the emergence of a new caste system. (Alexander, 2010, 11-12) What people don’t know about they can’t change. The riots across the country in response to police brutality have brought about some awareness of the racial aspect of our criminal Justice system but most aren’t aware of the many injustices our felons receive. Many really don’t see mass incarceration as a racial Justice or civil rights crisis. Once the conversation is done and people are aware of the system that is enslaving so many of our citizens then I believe we should write a new constitution. Our constitution has too much life and was built on slavery.