Monday, March 29, 2010

Key terms from March 27th

Jim Crow

The Jim Crow laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965. They mandated de jure racial segregation in all public facilities, with a supposedly "separate but equal" status for black Americans. In reality, this led to treatment and accommodations that were usually inferior to those provided for white Americans, systematizing a number of economic, educational and social disadvantages.

Some examples of Jim Crow laws are the segregation of public schools, public places and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms and restaurants for whites and blacks. The U.S. military was also segregated. These Jim Crow Laws were separate from the 1800-66 Black Codes, which had also restricted the civil rights and civil liberties of African Americans. State-sponsored school segregation was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education. Generally, the remaining Jim Crow laws were overruled by the Civil Rights Act of 1964[1] and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The phrase "Jim Crow Law" first appeared in 1904 according to the Dictionary of American English,[2] although there is some evidence of earlier usage.[3] The origin of the phrase "Jim Crow" has often been attributed to "Jump Jim Crow", a song-and-dance caricature of African Americans performed by white actor Thomas D. Rice in blackface, which first surfaced in 1832 and was used to satirize Andrew Jackson's populist policies. As a result of Rice's fame, "Jim Crow" had become a pejorative expression meaning "African American" by 1838, and from this the laws of racial segregation became known as Jim Crow laws.[3] (Source: Wikipedia).

Racial Caste System – A stigmatized racial group locked into an inferior position by law and custom (Source: Michelle Alexander – The New Jim Crow ).

Mass Incarceration

Mass incarceration, according to Michelle Alexander, is a system that locks people not only behind actual bars in actual prisons, but also behind virtual bars and virtual walls – walls that are invisible to the naked eye but function nearly as effectively as Jim Crow laws once did at locking people of color into a permanent second-class citizenship. The term mass incarceration refers not only to the criminal justice system but also to the larger web of laws, rules, policies, and customs that control those labeled criminals both in and out of prison. Once released, former prisoners enter a hidden underworld of legalized discrimination and permanent social exclusion. They are members of America’s new undercaste (p.12-13).

Mass incarceration refers to the extraordinary number of people being locked up in the US today. Of the more than 2.3 million Americans behind bars, the overwhelming majority have been taken from the poorest neighborhoods and counties in the country. In 2005, nearly $525,000,000 was spent imprisoning residents from Cook County alone, mostly from Chicago’s under-resourced Black and Latino neighborhoods. Among the many unknowns of contemporary incarceration policies are the political implications of removing residents of a community en masse. The use of state resources to support policies of mass incarceration can have dramatically negative impacts on a community’s capacity to create and maintain their own practices of peacemaking. Targeting predominately poor people of color over the last 35 years, the prison population in Illinois has risen over 500 percent. This rise has tremendous implications for the children of the incarcerated and the Department of Children and Family Services (Source: Area Chicago)

Second Class Citizenship

War on Drugs

Prison Towns

Death Penalty

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