Yesterday I watched Michelle Alexander’s talk, The future of race in America: Michelle Alexander at TEDxColumbus. However, in my opinion, the title is a bit of a misnomer. In reality, She focuses more on the impact that the prison system has on people of color. What I found the most compelling and worth digging into further is the idea she introduces that there has been a fundamental shift in the point of the prison system. She says that at one time, the intent of the system was to rehabilitate criminals, reintroduce them into society, and give them a second chance to perform their civil duties in an effective manner. However, based on a series of statistics and legal changes over the years, she has come to the conclusion that now, the prison system functions to keep people coming back so that the government can continue to financially benefit from the essentially free labor. It paints a disturbing image of the way black and brown bodies are perceived not only by the government, but by the nations citizens who allow these injustices to occur.


2 responses »

  1. jonesa0913 says:

    Can you clarify why you believe the title is misleading? It implies that race will function differently in the future – a tool for social control via the criminal justice system.

    • nlredmond says:

      In response to the original post and this question, I would argue that the the use of race as a tool for social control isn’t even a future definition of the concept; it is a continuation of its original purpose. The concept of race was socially constructed to provide basis for a variety of horrific and cowardly practices, the most infamous being the enslavement of Africans. It now, in more unspoken terms, provides the basis for the mass incarceration system.

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