US History Class List

Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Perpetuation of Racial Caste

     Racial caste has perpetuated into mass incarceration because although the work of the civil rights movement has fought against white privilege and racial discrimination, there is still a desire of "white elites to exploit the resentments, vulnerabilities, and racial biases of poor and working-class whites for political or economic gain" (Alexander, 1). Mass incarceration is a caste system that is very similar to the Jim Crow system. Both were founded on the desire of white elites to have power and exploit fear and bribe to enforce their power. The two systems are also similar because of their legalized discrimination and political disenfranchisement. "Many of the forms of discrimination that relegated African Americans to an inferior caste during Jim Crow continue to"(Alexander, 1). Legalized discrimination and political disenfranchisement have continued after Jim Crow because the legal system has not fully eliminated the methods of Jim Crow to suppress African Americans. Once names a felon as an African American there is no escape from the discrimination of the legal system. Felons are denied the right to vote both in and out of prison in most states, and some may have to pay a "poll tax" of fees before they are eligible. Most African Americans "are automatically excluded from jury service because they have been labeled felons" (Alexander, 2), and the system has allowed for this exclusion to continue and escalate.

     The civil rights movement accomplished the right to vote with no discrimination, the end of school segregation, and the start of a less racist society. However, after the movement the white desire was very present, and it caused a second Reconstruction era in which whites worked to gain back their power back without breaking the law. Mass incarceration was the response to the civil rights movement: a new system of racialized control. A new system to constrain African Americans with fear and injustice by feeding the imbalance of society with more "felons."

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Age of Colorblindness

     The age of colorblindness is an era when racial issues were not publicly addressed but still heavily present. The age of colorblindness began during the War on Drugs. It was a time when the criminal justice system largely discriminated against African Americans but did not "openly express of endorse racial discrimination"(Alexander 2). Alexander writes that this may seem absurd, but it is easy: allow law enforcement to "to stop, search, arrest, and charge for drug offenses" to ensure "conscious and unconscious racial beliefs and stereotypes will be given rein" and "[d]emand than anyone who wants to challenge racial bias in the system offer, in advance, clear proof that the racial disparities are the product of intentional racial discrimination" (Alexander 2).

     Growing up we are taught that talking about race is a 'no no' because parents and people of an older generations believe that was the way to deal with race, by ignoring it. By teaching that race is not a topic of conversation, we suppress the issue, and mask the system that we have created of white supremacy and racialized social control. The age of colorblindness attempts to mask racial caste by ignoring the issue of race, and it enforces white privilege. Colorblindness dilutes the racial caste system that trivializes African Americans, and it dismantles the argument against racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. To be able to say you are 'colorblind' enforces white privilege because it is a privilege. White Americans have the privilege to be colorblind, but black Americans are constantly reminded of their race and how it makes them inferior. "Black lives matter" is so important because it calls to attention the inferiority and it demands action to change. "All lives matter," however, is a form of colorblindness because it takes away from "black lives matter." It diminishes the fight for racial equality by denying the importance of black lives with the statement that all lives matter. Colorblindness is a front to respond to racial discrimination, and "all lives matter" undermines the attempt to uncover -- and counter -- racial discrimination in our society. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Racial Bribe of Law and Order

     The call for "law and order" was first used in the 1950s to create opposition to the civil rights movement. The "law and order" rhetoric was used as a racial bride to lower and lower-middle class whites to strengthen the wedge between whites and blacks at that time. As Alexander explains, "Southern governors and law enforcement officials... argued that the rise of the Civil Rights Movement was indicative of a breakdown of law and order" (Alexander 1). Republicans blamed the increasing crime rates on the rise of civil rights, calling the civil rights protests criminal and denouncing the leniency of federal courts on crime. The Republican party used law and order to gain the votes of poor whites. The Republican party appealed to the poor whites with "racial fears"(Alexander 2), and promoted "cracking down on crime." Furthermore, this rhetoric used to promote law and order was simply "coded antiblack rhetoric." The system of law and order was focused on black communities, and was used to incarcerate black citizens for petty crimes with harsher punishments than whites. It was a new system of racialized social control that benefitted white citizens and furthered white supremacy while placing black "criminals" into prisons.
     The Republican party was looking for a new arrangement of their party; moreover, because the party was aware that Southern Democrats were angry and divided from the Democratic party because of their support for the civil rights movement, the Republicans used law and order to offer a "bribe" of racial restraints and continued segregation in exchange for votes. Lower and lower-middle class whites shifted to the Republican party, and the Democratic party was broken down as the wedge of race strengthened. The new racial bribe of "law and order" affected the Democratic Party by creating a stronger divide between whites and blacks which causes a shift of poor whites into the Republican party.

     It is commonly understood that Reconstruction occurred from 1863 to 1877. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in southern states, and in 1877 federal troops withdrew from the South. As Reconstruction began with new reforms for African American rights, whites reacted with the Redemption of the South. Actions to redeem the South, such as creating black codes, were made to ensure white supremacy and control black citizens. Reconstruction was a time to rebuild society after the Civil War and the emancipation of the slaves. However, most of the reforms during Reconstruction were dismantled because whites were threatened and countered Reconstruction with Southern Redemption. With the end of Reconstruction came the birth of the Jim Crow system in 1877. 
     The Jim Crow system began with the birth of Southern Redemption to rebuild the South and restore racialized social control. The end of Jim Crow is commonly seen as the outcome of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 when it was declared unconstitutional to have segregated schools and the idea of "separate but equal" was revoked. However, before this ruling Jim Crow was deteriorating. The rise of the NAACP, increasing political rights for African Americans, and Supreme Court rulings contributed to the weakening Jim Crow system. Also, the beginning of World War II; moreover, during a time of segregation of Jews, African American soldiers were returning home from war to segregation. America's participation in this racial caste system was damaging to our status as a "free world." Therefore, the Jim Crow system concluded with the decisions of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, but the system was declining before and could have continued if the large civil rights movement had not countered it. Continuing, the Civil Rights movement is known to have began in 1954 after the ruling of Brown v. Board of Education. The court ruling changed the system of separating in the South and resulted in backlash from the KKK and white against integration with blacks. The Klan killed African Americans, bombed "black homes and churches"(Alexander 3) to repress the movement. The Civil Rights Act was signed in 1964, and contributed to the close of the Civil Rights movement. As the rights of African Americans were protected by the act, the Civil Rights movement "began to evolve into a 'Poor People's Movement', it promised to address not only black poverty, but white poverty as well"(Alexander 4). 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Racial Bribe and the Construct of Race in America

     During the time before the Constitution, the white male planters were in authority, and they wanted to keep it that way. After Nathaniel Bacon's multiracial revolt of white and black laborers, the planters feared an alliance between the bond workers and slaves. After an attempt to import more African slaves to decrease any alliance with the white laborers, the planters granted white servants the ability to"police slaves through slave patrols and militias" (Alexander 2), and thereby made white laborers more privileged than black laborers. This was known as "racial bribe." Bribing white servants with privileges and granting them to make them feel superior to blacks ended any alliance between the laborers. The racial bribe ended an alliance, but it created the idea of race. White servants were given the power to "police slaves," which gave them the power to beat slaves and maintain dominance, even though they did not own any slaves. This empowerment of the white laborer created the idea that when you are white it does not matter what economic status you are because you will always be higher than blacks. This idea of white supremacy continued in America, and although we have tried to eliminate it, white supremacy has created an implicit bias in Americans that affects our actions and opinions of African Americans. 
     The Constitution was written 1787, and it created America's government and laws for citizens. However, the Constitution preserves slavery. Our democracy was founded on the idea that slaves were "three-fifths of a man" (Alexander 2), and the documents written by our founders supported this as well. Race played a role in the shaping of America. The founders wanted all states to join the unions, but in order to Southern states to agree they wanted to ensure their rights to slaves would not be affected. Federalism separated the power between the states and the federal government, and it was created to protect slavery and slave states. Democracy in America was formed with the idea that slaves were not citizens or whole people. Because slavery was preserved in the Constitution and other founding documents, the idea of race was formed and enforced with the words we hold highly, and this allowed race and racism to fester in the minds of Americans and live in society. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Implicit Association Tests and Confirmation Bias

It was enlightening to read about confirmation bias and implicit associations because I realized how prevalent they are in today's society. Confirmation bias is the tendency to confirm our own bias with evidence that supports it. An example of confirmation bias is when a man says African Americans commit more crimes that caucasians, and the following day he reads an article about an African American man caught stealing. The article confirmed his bias. The Implicit Association test evaluates the level of a person's association that they may or may not be aware of. I took a test that evaluated my preference between old and young people. My results said I have a moderate automatic preference for young people over old people. I was not surprised with my results. I think they make sense because I spend most of my time with young people. This test allowed me to understand that people my age can have a strong preference for young people, and that can affect how they interact with people more than a few years older than I am. The majority of the population, whether they are aware of it or not, has preconceived associations about different races, ages, genders, etc. I believe it is important that people take this test, and realize of their associations and stereotypes. Sometimes people are unaware of their associations. It is important for people to know not only that they are bias, but how they can learn to change their ways. 

At the beginning of the year we studied slavery and the founders of the nation, and specifically that slavery created racism. The enslavement of African people ingrained immoral biases and associations in our nations culture. This fact challenged my idea of the formation of racism because my original idea was that racism created slavery. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017