Skip to comments.Fighting Against New Jim Crow: Dream Defenders analyze how mass-incarceration affects Black & brown
Posted on 05/19/2014 6:02:35 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
Jim Crow is not dead. It has simply changed its face.
A new generation of Black and brown youth are waking up to the reality that our bodies are still criminalized. Whether by shooting down teenagers like Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin or by funneling youth out of schools and into prisons for the profit of private prison corporation CEOs, todays version of Jim Crow laws threaten Americas future.
Its no accident Kanye West rapped about private prison company Corrections Corporation of America locking up Black people across the country on Yeezus. This winter, Stanford-educated, Compton-born NFL cornerback Richard Sherman was labeled a thug for sparking football rivalry, to which he responded that thug is the new n-word. In March, Obama announced support for dropping the sentencing length of federal drug offenders in an effort to reduce the countrys painfully bloated prison population. The United States houses 25 percent of the worlds incarcerated individuals more than China or Russia.
Since its founding, America has depended on a permanent underclass of Black and brown bodies working for little or nothing. In 2014, the disproportionately non-white prison population continues this tradition, making next to nothing (often less than $1 an hour) to create products for mass consumption. Major entities Victorias Secret, Nike, Starbucks, Microsoft, Nintendo, even the U.S. military have at different points used prison labor to pump out products we all consume. Prisoners are sometimes subjected to heavy metals and toxic chemicals in industries like computer recycling at the expense of their own health.
Our communities contribute unknowingly to this new Jim Crow through our purchases and our taxes, which are used to pay state-contracted, for-profit prison operators. George Zoley, the CEO of for-profit prison company GEO Group, for example, is one of Americas highest paid government corrections officers, making $22 million a year. Its estimated that GEO Group makes 86 percent of its revenue from taxpayers.
When inner-city schools lack funding for books, when the cutting of federal food stamp programs force single mothers to take on more low-wage jobs and less of their childs education, when programs like stop-and-frisk disproportionately incarcerate Black men and remove them from the household, its time to move past the idea that this is an accident. There is a systemic and long-seated set of economic and social conditions entrapping low-income communities and Black communities in an endless pattern of criminalization, incarceration and poverty. There is a glass ceiling holding down Black and brown youth on the ladder of American opportunity.
In 1984, the Corrections Corporation of America revolutionized how U.S. prisons operate. The company took over a prison in Tennessee, and it was the first time a for-profit company was contracted to run a local jail. The corporation struck gold and pioneered a new industry between 1990 and 2010 the number of private prisons in the U.S. increased 1,600 percent. This has outpaced both the growth of public prison facilities and even the U.S. population, creating an actual demand for prisoners. These new and thriving prison corporations with names like CCA, G4S, Youth Services International (YSI) and GEO Group maximize profits by making sure that the highest number of possible beds are filled in their facilities.
Many of us have heard the economic theory of supply and demand that where there is a need, the dollars arent far behind. So, with an increasing demand for prisoner bodies to fill the growing number of for-profit jail beds, the countrys criminal justice system finds itself on a slippery slope. Government jails, judges and politicians are now in a unique position to imprison their local populations for profit. Check out the Pennsylvania Kids For Cash scandal, where local judges accepted money from the builder of two for-profit juvenile facilities in the area in return for offering contracts and imposing unreasonably harsh sentences on youth in their courts.
For-profit prison companies are also incentivized to cut costs and maximize profit. This translates into unsanitary conditions, low-quality or inedible prison food, insufficient and underpaid security, etc. These conditions are not rare or new. Incarcerated individuals have protested them all over America, but because of their criminal status, an entire population of new slaves is silenced. In Floridas YSI facilities, there are reports of juveniles even being prevented by prison guards from calling abuse and complaint hotlines for incarcerated youth.
The Dream Defenders, an organization led by Black and brown youth in Florida, are in this fight for the long haul. Our generation is confronted with a challenge: How do we end the cycle of poverty, criminalization and incarceration in Black and brown communities? In the next several years, we hope to campaign for large-scale divestment from companies that invest in private prison corporations or labor. With our vote, our generation can make it unacceptable for politicians to accept campaign donations from private prison companies or CEOs.
The dream that our generation would live in a nation where they are not judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character, has become more aggressive in its elusiveness. It is up to us to create the world we wish to see, and the world our children will inherit.
Sandra Khalifa is Co-Director of Communications for Dream Defenders, an organization of Black and brown youth fighting for equal rights in Florida.
Don’t know, I’m more concerned with Red, White, and Blue.
Little Sandy Khalifia the Dream Defender action hero, huh? LOL! Somebody really need to get a life AND a REAL job. A little duct tape over the mouth might also help.
When one lies in the opening thought, there is no point in reading further.
Here's to your imminent unemployment and discovery of a real life.
In my Northeast, definitely democrat city - it is the black residents who are calling for MORE police on their streets, bemoaning the overwhelming violence among young, black, men, and calling for stiffer penalties for those causing violence and drug use.
At the same time, they are saying that the criminal justice system is racist.
So, which do you want?
If stop and frisk jails a higher proportion of Blacks, the frisker must have found something.
Are the B on B shootings in Chicago the result of Jim Crow laws?
Don’t know but am pretty sure that the “youth are criminalized because, well they’re criminals! Go around robbing, killing, raping, drug dealing, driving drunk and being stoned and you will be treated like what you are.
I guess we should have arrest quotas. Only so many black or brown criminals can be arrested during a given period of time. After that, let the criminals go free ... only seems fair. /s
Just noticed the Arab last nameperhaps assumed during college after a stimulating course with a Marxist professor of race consciousness. Isn't that kind of like a self-hating Jew? A race-obsessed black identifies militantly with the Moslems, who enslaved, killed, and castrated more Africans than the rest of the world put together? And she identifies against America, which probably gave rise to more black millionaires than all of Africa put together. I know, it probably makes her feel more special somehow.
I don’t believe that it’s your bodies that are criminalized, I think that it is your behavior. Work to change the behavior of the dysfunctional ghetto culture that the black establishment is so keen to enable. Of course, that does mean that the race shakedown industry will come to an end.
guess all those folks I see on the local news breaking into stores or wanted for this or that we just selected cases brought forth by the biased editors??
I will post my standard comment on thses stories:
Show me the ones who didn’t do what they were accused of doing.
Most incarcerated youth were convicted of preying on their own kind. Should we adopt the “I don’t care what they do to each other” approach?
To rectify the situation, black on black crime will be ignored.
What a nutbar.
It is frightening that people who think thusly walk among us by day.
Does it make any difference if a person seems crazy because they have been taught a bunch of stuff that differs dramatically from reality, or if they seem crazy because they are crazy?
What practical difference does it make?
This is nothing. What message are we sending to young boys and girls when we have so many men in prison compared to women?
Hasn’t anyone told these a-holes that Jim Crow laws were enacted by democrats?
Watch any of a myriad of prison documentaries showing real inmates and any rational person would conclude that they are right where they belong.