Browsing Posts in Race Issues

What is the prison industrial complex?

A very brief answer to that question would be: the private businesses, corporations and contractors that benefit from the construction, security and maintenance of prisons as a profit generating enterprise. In and of itself, making a profit by providing a service, in whatever form that service manifests, is how capitalism works. When it comes to the private prison industry however, that profit comes at the expense of; not only the tax-paying public that supports the private prison industry, but also the largely minority and poor population that is disproportionally incarcerated when compared to whites. The guards, or correctional officers, of these institutions are typically unable to unionize and generally paid very poorly for the dangerous job they do, ultimately leading to widespread corruption throughout the prison system; from the guards to law enforcement to the judicial system.

In the United States, 1.8 million individuals are behind bars. This is nearly 500,000 more than China, which has a population over quadruple the population of the United States and is largely criticized–deservedly so–for their human rights violations. If you are a black male in the United States, you are six times more likely to be in prison than a white male, and almost three times more likely than a Hispanic male. In 1993, while apartheid still existed in South Africa, the incarceration rate of black men was almost 1/6 what the current incarceration rate of black men in this country is. Not only is this emblematic of broad and systemic racial injustice, it is also the result of a profit-motivated prison system that makes more and more money–at taxpayer expense–when our citizens are locked up; increasingly for non-violent offenses. continue reading…

Originally written on April 25, 2010

On Friday, April 24, Arizona Republican Governor Jan Brewer signed into law a new immigration bill requiring local police officers to question people about their immigration status if there is reason to suspect they are illegal immigrants. What the actual reason is that police would suspect someone of being an illegal immigrant is not stated in the law, but is left to the discretion of the officers. The reality is every single resident of Arizona of Latino descent–about 30% of the state’s population–is a potential target for police interrogation.

This bill is the culmination of a decade’s long attempt at fear-mongering that spreads false information about the actual costs–fiscal and social–of illegal immigration, all in an effort to use the already racist inclinations of a white population duped into the belief that “American” culture, language and identity is threatened by illegal immigrants. Of course, the illegal immigrants they speak of only pertain to Latin America–Mexico at the forefront–and do not mention immigrants from any other part of the world that come to this country every year, just like Latinos, but whose skin is not dark and whose native language is not Spanish. Fear-mongers like Lou Dobbs and Glenn Beck, among many others, manipulate their audience into a belief system that re-enforces racist stereotypes, perpetuates lies about the actual costs of illegal immigration and presents hypothetical scenarios about the downfall of white American culture at the hands of these immigrants. continue reading…

Originally written on April 23, 2010

I feel that I am a citizen of the American dream and that the revolutionary struggle of which I am a part is a struggle against the American nightmare. Eldridge Cleaver

When Eldridge Cleaver spoke those words, the belief was that he, and all of black America, were indeed in a revolutionary struggle against the tyranny of the white ruling class. Some forty-odd years later, the tyranny still exists, yet the revolutionary fervor of; not only Black America, but of everyone–white, Black, Hispanic–is non-existent. There is most certainly anti-establishment fervor on the rise, but this movement–such as the tea party–is one of the white lower and middle-class alienated by a current administration headed by a black man. This white middle-class uproar is spearheaded, dictated and manipulated by the very forces that are alienating not just these white protesters, but every single person who lacks a voice. In essence: a corporate-sponsored revolution devised to further the divide between white and black, rich and poor: the haves and have nots. continue reading…

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