I am sure you have heard the story about the “Birds and the Bees” but have you heard the one called the “Byrnes and the Beasts”? I would bet my bottom dollar that you are completely unaware of this vital tale. Believe it or not its essence is the woven fabric of the society within which we move about. The answers to the inquiries about why the functions of employment and confinement seem so disproportionate among racial-social-economic lines. Michelle Alexander has done her due diligence for our race by compiling and presenting some of the most fundamental knowledge in a manner that is clear and empowering. Through knowledge we can empower ourselves. Without knowledge we have no understanding of what power even is. In a colorblind society (which we undoubtedly live in today) knowledge of one’s history, environment and society are crucial to avoiding the subversive institutions cloaked otherwise. The criminal justice system is the architecture of the new age under-caste in America.
Only through a genuinely unbiased review of this nation’s history and the treatment of its lower casted citizens can we ascertain the predicament we are currently in. From indentured servitude to the imperialistic implementation of chattel slavery onward to reconstruction and eventually to Jim Crow segregation. An abhorrent and abominable societal transition. Acts that cannot be afforded spiritual cheek turning in a suddenly politically correct colorblind society. The basis and justification of such heinous activity was economically rooted. The division along racial lines for lucrative gain was not one that was to be given up easily. Hence when slavery was ‘abolished’ disenfranchisement and poor community conditions and vagrancy laws were established. Therefore, it can be made no more crystalline for us to see why the state of the negro has been what it is throughout the ages. Within the first fifty pages you will be connected to your ancestors and transported to a time when fear could be smelled and salvation and peace only dreamed of. You will come to appreciate yourself that much more and the role we all must assume to construct a flourishing Afro Centric community for our future generations.
It would serve our community well to know that we do not need to sell drugs. It would do even better to tell our children how dependent the police are on the Byrne fund and the legislation surrounding the governmental contracts and incentives received for certain policing tactics. Our young black and brown future galaxy explorers and submariner architects need to understand why their neighborhoods are patrolled and harassed and violated on claims of crime which has supposedly been there for decades. It needs to be explained to them why it is possible for city and state officials to claim there can be crime in certain areas for decades on a steady increase whilst there is a steady if not higher increase in paramilitary policing units, weapons and tactics simultaneously in the same area. We must instruct them how to source and assess the information about themselves and those who attack them. Marching and protesting once we have lost one of our children is respectable with all its historical weight but if we cannot proactively pull together our community might to stop the slaying in the first place or at least bring justice to the ones responsible then what is the point? Within these pages lies so many thought and dialogue opportunities for you and your child to speak about more than sports or a video gamea or cartoons. For in all actuality none of those things will make your child less black in the eyes of those who want to see them tagged by a system built to shackle them. Detain them in an invisible secondary society wondering where and how they went wrong. You must understand that sheltering them from this reality will not solve the issue. Informing them of it will.
Behind the walls of a truly colorblind society, we have to arm ourselves with the knowledge of our ancestors. Not just when we hit the shores of the North American continent but our roots in the motherland. It is imperative that we develop a sense of love for our African heritage because we are selectively loved by society. With exceptionalism and its high flying wonders we are stunned by what ALL our youth should be accomplishing without noting what that person in said place of power is contributing to the elevation black civilization or at least not the detriment. In the same token the lack of opportunity provided our youth by “US” should not be overlooked as to a major reason our youth turn to what they turn to for monetary provisions. The appalling lyrical messages with flimsy justifications for entertainment are our allowances. We cannot simply allow the only acceptance of black culture to be the ‘minstrel shows’ that litter pop culture today. Nor can our children only look to the schools to guide them elsewhere than the gymnasium or the prison yard in hopes that our votes are going to change the school systems anytime soon. It is time we do our part and “The New Jim Crow” grants us countless places to begin. Innumerable answers that can be applied and understood across a myriad of scenarios.
I cannot stress enough how important it is for every black home to have a copy of this text. It is much more than a timeline of how we have fallen victim to the throws of history. Alexander has compiled far more than that. “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness is a profound social-economic-political assessment and decipherment of the recently erected penal system as we know it. I can express no greater thanks to Michelle Alexander for the tireless effort she put into delivering this work to the black community than to sincerely impress upon you all to go out and get a copy. Even if it is a used copy with 1/3 missing you will be significantly more aware of your environment and the powers you possess. Read it and speak about what you learn. Elevate evening dialogues in a way that will benefit the next morning. We have to be the change we wish to see in a better tomorrow and that will always start today. That is why I attest that in modern day America as a Black or Brown skinned human it is a necessity to have this book on your shelf and to constantly speak about the truths it contains with those who matter most to you. Though we are living in a day of mass incarceration our strengthening of community ties will shatter the bonds they shackled our bodies and minds with.
BE THE CHANGE OUR YOUTH NEED IN ORDER FOR THIS WORLD TO LOVE RATHER THAN BLEED.