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The New Jim Crow – Racism or Class?

An interesting view from Author Robert D. Putnam on inequalities in American society and the economy. Putnam believes that racism isn’t the major impediment to economic mobility in the country anymore – class is. And as far as that goes he may be correct. However, in weighing whether racism is an issue – a lot depends on just what you define as “racism”. The conservative view of that is “we aren’t hanging you from trees and burning down your homes anymore – so there is no racism”. Of course to anyone else with an IQ above freezing water – racism is a lot more nuanced that just physical acts of depravity. I mean – just because you aren’t shooting me – doesn’t mean you aren’t trying to kill me with a knife.

Robert Putnam: Class Now Trumps Race as the Great Divide in America

Robert D. Putnam, author of Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, issued a strong warning to anti-poverty advocates at a forum on social connectedness at the Aspen Ideas Festival Saturday, urging the audience to get beyond talking about poverty and race and start thinking about social mobility and class instead.

“Those two conceptual moves, framing it as poverty and thinking about it as a matter of race, have a very deep history… and I think both politically and analytically that’s an almost fatally flawed framework,” said Putnam, the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, in response to remarks from co-panelists Anne Mosle, vice president of policy at the Aspen Institute, and Mario Small, chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago.

“You say poverty to most ordinary Americans, most ordinary voters, they think black ghettos,” he continued, whereas over the last couple of generations “class, not race is the dominant — and becoming more dominant — dimension of difficulty here.”

“Relatively speaking, racial differences controlling for class are decreasing while class differences controlling for race are increasing in America,” he said. “Non-white folks with a college education are looking more and more like white folks with a college education and white folks who haven’t gotten beyond high school are looking more and more like nonwhite folks who haven’t finished high school.” Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2012 in The New Jim Crow

 

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The New Jim Crow – Charter Schools

One of the problems with Charter Schools such as those recently implemented in Louisiana – is that they short circuit all of the existing Civil Rights laws.  Particularly in Lousisana the changeover to supposedly “private” schools enables religious discrimination.

The Old Jim Crow – Just Like the New Jim Crow – Now Dressed Up as Charter Schools

Segregation Fear Sinks Charter School

Nashville school officials have rejected a proposal to open a charter school in a middle-class part of the city, highlighting a broader national battle over efforts by operators of such publicly financed, privately run schools to expand into more affluent areas.

The Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools board voted 7-2 Tuesday night to reject an application by Great Hearts Academies, a nonprofit that operates prep-school-like charter schools, for five new establishments.

The Arizona-based group planned to open its first Tennessee school in a middle- to upper-middle class area in west Nashville, after being invited by parents who either were unhappy with local public schools or said they favored choice in education.

The board denied the application because members worried that low-income parents wouldn’t be able to easily transport their children across town to a school on the west side, meaning the plan could effectively cause “segregated schools,” said Olivia Brown, spokeswoman for the district.

“Rather than enhance diversity in the district, this would send us in the opposite direction,” said Edward Kindall, one of the board members who voted against the plan. “I went to segregated schools and this gets us dangerously close to separate but unequal.”

The school board also approved, by votes of 9-0 and 8-1, two other charter schools Tuesday, both of which will cater mainly to low-income students. Mr. Kindall backed both schools.

Dan Scoggin, chief executive of Great Hearts Academies, said the school would have been open to all students, and that his organization planned to build other schools elsewhere in the city. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2012 in The New Jim Crow

 

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The New Jim Crow — Why Some Polls Under-Report Obama’s Approval Numbers

I have noticed for some time now, the disconnect between polling done by Gallup on the national level and that done by organizations doing polling in the states. Gallup seems to represent polling results that are 2-3 points lower than you would expect judging by the state data. At worst, Gallup often agrees with Rasmussen – which isn’t really in the business of polling, and operates as an arm of the Republican Party. Pew, and some of the other polling organizations seem to come up with numbers consistently higher for Obama that Gallup.

Unlike Rasmussen – there is no reason to believe that Gallup is tweaking the poll numbers. Gallup is the most established and highly respected pollster out there. So why the difference?

The difference appears to be race. And no – Gallup isn’t racist. Nor is there any evidence that they intentionally skew their numbers. That is not what is being said here.  It has to do with how they assemble their samples. With 90% of black voters supporting Obama, and under-participation of black folks in the polling has almost a 1-1 correlation with the results. That is, if the statistical sample doesn’t match the racial makeup of the population, then the result skews 1 point for each point of over, or under – representation of black, and Hispanic voters.  Gallup’s current polling methodology under-counts Minority voters.

The following is a really good article on how Gallup does its polling, and how their choices of how to do sampling impacts their data.

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Obama’s Approval Rating has been consistently lower by a few points on Gallup (in red) versus other polling organizations.

Race Matters: Why Gallup Poll Finds Less Support For President Obama

With the race for president between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama now shifting into high gear, politicians, journalists and the general public are scrutinizing each new poll, with every small swing in one direction or another elevated to outsized importance.

Among the many polls released every day, one always stands out. The Gallup Poll is arguably the most trusted survey brand in the world, a name virtually synonymouswith public opinion polling. It has measured presidential job approval and vote preference without interruption since the 1940s and now conducts a daily tracking poll that reaches more than 3,600 adults every week — a volume of data that dwarfs that produced by other firms. As a result, Gallup’s numbers enjoy unique influence and public prominence.

Over the past few years, however, polling junkies have noticed something curious: Gallup’s polls have produced results that appear slightly but consistently more negative to President Obama than those produced by other firms.

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Romney’s projected percentage of vote has been consistently higher on Gallup (in red) than in other polls.

The Huffington Post has conducted an independent analysis that confirms the phenomenon and points to a likely explanation. The problem lies in the way that Gallup handles the racial composition of its samples, and the findings highlight significant issues with how polls are developed and conducted today.

The dirty little secret of telephone surveys now conducted by most media outlets is that their unweighted samples alone cannot provide reliable estimates of population demographics like race and Hispanic ancestry. A dramatic fall in response rates has led to what pollsters call “non-response bias” in their raw data. Partly because survey response rates are typically lowest in urban areas, unweighted samples routinely under-represent black and Hispanic Americans.

As a Pew Research Center study recently demonstrated, random-sample surveys continue to provide accurate data on most measures — but only when their samples of telephone numbers include both landline and mobile phones, and only when the completed interviews are weighted to match the demographic composition of the population. That means the weighting procedures that pollsters use are critical to producing accurate results.

The need to weight accurately by race and ancestry is particularly significant when it comes to evaluating the contest between Obama and Romney. As Gallup itself reported in early May, Romney led Obama among non-Hispanic white voters by 54 to 37 percent, while the president had the support of more than three-quarters of non-white registered voters (77 percent). Obama’s support among African Americans on Gallup’s tracking poll stood at 90 percent.

That gap makes the way pollsters account for race hugely important. When pollsters weight their samples to match population demographics, every percentage point increase in black representation translates into a nearly one-point improvement in Obama’s margin against Romney. The difference of just a few percentage points in the non-white composition of a poll can produce a significant skew in its horse race results… (Read the rest of this article here)

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2012 in The New Jim Crow, The Post-Racial Life

 

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The New Jim Crow – And Exoneration

The common depiction of Justice with a blindfold wasn’t meant as a cover for willful blindness to innocence. To date, 873 people convicted of crimes in our “Justice” system, and in at least one provable case executed have been exonerated. They just didn’t do the crime they were convicted of doing. Some interesting statistics about that –

50 Percent of Those Exonerated in National Registry are Black

The University of the Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law have partnered to launch a National Registry of Exonerations that keeps an up to date list of all known exonerations in the United States since 1989. The group’s inaugural report released this week reveals 50 percent of false convictions are of black defendants.

The National Registry of Exoneration documents include 891 exonerations with summaries of the cases and searchable data on each. Their latest report focuses on the 873 exonerations that were entered in the Registry as of March 1, 2012.

Below are key findings from the Center’s study of the 873 exonerated defendants as printed in the report:

  • 93% are men, 7% women;
  • 50% are black, 38% white, 11% Hispanic and 2% Native American or Asian;
  • 37% were exonerated with the help of DNA evidence; 63% without DNA; as a group, they spent more than 10,000 years in prison – an average of more than 11 years each.
  • Since 2000, exonerations have averaged 52 a year – one a week – 40% of which include DNA evidence.
  • The 873 exonerations are mostly rape and murder cases, but the data also include
    many more exonerations for other crimes than previously known.

For all exonerations, the most common causal factors that contributed to the underlying false convictions are perjury or false accusation (51%), mistaken eyewitness identification (43%) and official misconduct (42%) – followed by false or misleading forensic evidence (24%) and false confession (16%).

Of course, 873 is only a small portion of the convictions for crime we see in any year – much less over 30 years. And the fact that 50% of the folks who were exonerated in a system where 50% of the convicted are black, doesn’t necessarily prove racial bias when considered on its own. The vast majority of criminal convictions in the US are for minor drug offenses with major incarceration times. Those are not disprovable by DNA.

What it does mean is, considering the shoestring budget of groups seeking Justice meaning that only the most egregious cases of injustice are pursued, and the fact that States throw the legal kitchen sink at the legal teams seeking exoneration in order to avoid the exoneration and likely cost of a lawsuit for wrongful conviction… The number of wrongful convictions is probably much, much, much higher.

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2012 in The New Jim Crow

 

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The New Jim Crow – The Conservative “Race War”

The present blooming fantasy of white victimization has roots in the peculiar violent institutions of the 19th-century American South. In the distant mirror of history, it’s easy to spot the irony and the guilt: even before the Civil War began, whites worried that their slaves would rise up and repay their masters in kind — filch the fruit of their labor, rape them, and beat them, sometimes to death. As soon as the balance of power shifted and news of Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse circulated throughout the former slave states, those fears ran amok

A common recruiting method of white supremacist groups is to play on their potential member’s percieved “victimization” by minorities. Ergo – that they are failures in life because black/brown/yellow/green folks were “given” jobs or opportunity over them because of race. As I have said before the conservative side of the American political spectrum has absorbed a lot of ideas from the racist right, and mainstreamed them into conservative mantra and consciousness.

The narrative is pretty much laid out in the video below –

One of the most flagrant results of this was the perversion of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division under the Bushit Administration as a vehicle to track down and prosecute incidences of “reverse discrimination. That is, discrimination against whites by minorities. The problem being that after 8 years and spending hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money…

Only one verifiable case was ever found by said lawyers. This despite over 13,000 cases of classical discrimination being filed a year by minorities.

Reality and logic play no part in this from a group of folks who believe the presence of two, self styled “Black Panthers” at a Pennsylvania polling place during the 2008 Presidential Election was enough to sway voters across the country to vote for a black man – and that such constituted a “massive” level of voting fraud…

Despite consistent and massive efforts by Republicans in 2000 and 2004 for limit minority voting though denying the availability of voting machines, and “erasing” large number of minority voters from the rolls in Florida based on “faulty” data.

The right wing’s “racial services machine” though the “7 Sisters”, a group of right wing foundations which pour hundreds of millions of dollars a year into conservative think tanks and causes – supports this sort of racial narrative to the tune of an estimated $100 million a year. These groups have funded the publication of books by folks such as Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray “The Bell Curve”, Sowell’s contributions to  TownhallWorldNetDaily,OneNewsNow and the Jewish World Review,  Dinesh D’Souza whose book “The End of Racism oddly enough inadvertently makes the case for racism’s continued existence, and Jared Taylor’s “The Color of Crime” using faulty logic and fake statistics to make the case for black on white crime. Fox News advances these narratives though such commentators as Sean Hannity, and as of late Bill O’Reilly.

Black conservatives are well funded to support the narrative that whites are under attack by “Speakers Bureaus” such as Project 21, and trusty, safe black conservatives like Sowell, whose recent article fully supported the existence of a “war” by black folks against white folks based on anecdotal evidence

The problem being, just like the “New Black Panther Party” (having nothing to do with the original Black Panthers and consisting of perhaps 50 members nationwide) controversy, and the “Reverse Discrimination Controversy” – there is no statistical evidence to support that in any way that whites are being targeted by roving gangs of black or brown folks attacking white folks in any numbers beyond random.

Conversely – spending $100 million a year in investing in racist narratives…

Totally deconstructs the idea that racism is no longer a factor in American life.

The “white victimization” industry promoted by right wing media, and their well paid quasi scientific cohorts has very real consequences.

These cases are similar to the hue and cry raised over the “Central Park Jogger” case in the 90’s – where gangs of black youth, supposedly “wilding” were convicted of the brutal beating and rape of a woman jogging in Central Park. The tragedy of the victim was compounded by the fact that the courts convicted 5 innocent kids of the crime, adding additional victims to the carnage – who had been convicted largely due to the media hype, and assumption of guilt by the media and police who beat “confessions” out of the youths…

And of course, most recently the Trayvon Martin murder.

In Conservative Media, A “Race War” Rages

It was near midnight on April 14 when the Chevy Cavalier carrying Dave Forster and Marjon Rostami rolled to a stop at a red light in Norfolk, Va. As the pair waited, one of a crowd of teenagers on the sidewalk threw a rock at the passenger seat window, prompting Forster to get out of the car and confront the aggressor.

That’s when the beating began. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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The New Jim Crow – Voter ID Vote Suppression

I cannot remember — even sitting in an Orangeburg County jail — when I had as much anxiety as I’m experiencing today. Back then, even when we were at the back of the bus and we were not able to sit down at lunch counters, we really felt strong that what’s happening to me here in Orangeburg, SC or Columbia, SC, ah, if I can get my plight before the United States Supreme Court, the promise of this country will be delivered for me. That’s what we felt, and I can remember our discussions in meetings — yeah, we’re going to jail now. We are going to be convicted. But we know that that conviction is going to be overturned by the United States Supreme Court.

I don’t feel that today.

Congressman Jim Clyburn (South Carolina)

The ‘Voter Fraud’ Fraud

As President Obama spoke about Representative Paul Ryan’s budget yesterday, Fox News broke away from the president’s remarks to cover “a stunning case in South Bend, Indiana.” The story covered an indictment by the St. Joseph County prosecutor’s office alleging that local Democratic officials forged signatures to get Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards on the Indiana Democratic Primary ballot in 2008. “Indiana State Police investigators identified a total of 22 petitions that appeared to be faked, yet sailed through the Voter Registration Board as legitimate documents,” Fox reported. Eric Shawn, of the Fox News Voter Fraud Unit, said that a local election worker was “ordered to forge presidential petitions for Barack Obama, illegally faking the names and signatures of unsuspecting voters to put the then-Illinois senator on the presidential primary ballot.”

The new report will no doubt underscore the belief among Fox News viewers that Obama was illegitimately elected in 2008. According to a 2009 poll by Public Policy Polling, “52% majority of GOP voters nationally think that ACORN stole the Presidential election for Barack Obama last year, with only 27% granting that he won it legitimately.” Conservative commenters are pointing to the indictment as further proof of rampant voter fraud and more evidence of the need for voter ID laws nationwide.

There are at least two major problems with this argument. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2012 in The New Jim Crow

 

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The New Jim Crow – Workplace Discrimination Claims Rise in Congress

This is costing taxpayers millions… Says something about our elected officials who can’t, or won’t obey the law of the land.

Taxpayers foot bill for Hill harassment claims

The number of discrimination and harassment claims on Capitol Hill has doubled in the past five years — and taxpayers have shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle those disputes.

new report out Thursday says 168 claims were made in fiscal 2010 alleging discrimination and harassment — compared to 87 claims reported in fiscal 2006. Fifty-seven of the claims made last year were based on race, while 41 claims involved age, 34 involved gender and 28 involved disabilities, according to the report from the congressional Office of Compliance.

The harassment and discrimination claims stem from 105 cases filed with the Office of Compliance last year, meaning one person could make more than one claim. The vast majority of cases involve the large workforce under the Architect of the Capitol and Capitol Police, with about a fifth of the cases coming from House and Senate offices.

While the total number of complaints has risen, the payouts in settlements fluctuate year to year.

In fiscal 2010, taxpayers paid $246,271 to settle nine matters brought to the OOC over the years. That’s a big drop from the previous year, when $831,360 was spent to settle 13 claims. The cash awards settled matters of discrimination and harassment, as well as retaliation claims and disputes over contracts and pay. Since fiscal 1997, taxpayers have footed the bill for more than $13.2 million in cases resolved by the OOC.

Claims of retaliation and intimidation have also grown in the congressional workplace — from 46 claims in fiscal 2006 to 69 in fiscal 2010.

The OOC, which is charged with protecting congressional workers and facilities, is urging lawmakers to take extra measures to ensure Hill staffers are well aware of their rights. The OOC called for all offices to post a list of workers’ rights and require training for managers and staffers on how to prevent inappropriate conduct at the workplace….(more)

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2011 in Domestic terrorism

 

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The New Jim Crow – Ben Jealous Hammers New Voter ID Laws

Part of the Republican strategy to defeating President Obama in 2012 – is to reduce the number of black and brown voters.

The last time this strategy was successful was in 2004, when black precincts were denied the number of voting machines required to handle the traffic in Ohio. And we won’t get into the voter role purges of 2000 assisting in the illegitimate presidency of George Bush.

NAACP head likens voter ID measures to Jim Crow

The head of the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights group on Monday condemned state laws requiring photo identification of voters as an attempt to disenfranchise minorities through some “of the last existing legal pillars of Jim Crow.”

NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said a wave of newly enacted photo-ID requirements stemmed from what he saw as “the worst and most racist elements” in conservative Tea Party groups that have immersed themselves in state politics since the 2010 elections.

He compared photo ID laws to poll taxes and other past restrictions — since struck down by the courts — designed to keep blacks from voting in the segregated Deep South. And he said the latest measures were part of a racial backlash against the 2008 election of President Barack Obama.

“Our voting rights are under attack because a few years ago, we had a great breakthrough in this country,” Jealous said in a speech at the 102nd annual NAACP convention, held in Los Angeles. “We broke the color line at the White House.”

He said the NAACP would mount education campaigns aimed at preventing minorities and the poor from being disenfranchised.

Supporters of photo ID laws, backed mainly by Republican legislators and governors, say they are aimed at thwarting election fraud and are no more discriminatory than requiring IDs for cashing a check or making credit-card purchases.

 

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The New Jim Crow – Virtual Slavery – Republicans Bring Back Chain Gangs to Replace Paid Labor and Illegal Immigrants

Post Civil War Much of the South Was Rebuilt By Prison Labor Slavery

Chain Gangs were once a fixture in the South. Used as a slavery replacement strategy, prisoners – almost exclusively black, were used for everything from rebuilding the City of Atlanta after the Civil War to picking cotton, and laying railroad tracks.

The Prison Slavery System is making a big comeback, with major corporations – and in states which have driven out their “illegal immigrants”, now need Prison labor to pick the crops.

With black unemployment hovering at 16.5%, and teen unemployment hovering at 50% – in conservative America, if you are black – you have to go to jail to get a job.

Wisconsin Republicans aren’t that ambitious…yet.

Prison inmates replace unionized workers in Racine, Wisconsin

 

Prison inmates have replaced union workers in Racine County, Wisconsin, thanks to the changes to the states collective bargaining laws that went into effect at the end of June.

The Journal Times reported prison inmates will now be able to do tasks such as landscaping, painting, and shoveling sidewalks in the winter that were previously performed by unionized employees.

Inmates are not required to do any work for the county, but can receive time off their sentence if they do. Racine County Executive Jim Ladwig said the use of prison labor would not result in any public works staff reductions.

“We’re gonna have them do landscaping at county buildings, have them pick up trash on the roads,” he told local Fox News 6. “So we can use some of the county personnel to do difficult tasks, such as putting in a parking lot at the park.”

Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed a non-fiscal version of his budget plan into law in March that stripped nearly all collective bargaining rights from Wisconsin public workers, giving officials the power to make many changes affecting workers without formal negotiations.

 

 

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The New Jim Crow – Does Google Marketing Data Empower Racial Discrimination?.

Is Google Empowering a New Generation of Jim Crow?

This from a 3 part series on how Google collects user data and utilizes it as a product to sell to companies wishing to market products.

The question is, and remains – how is that data utilized by companies? Turns out the data can not only be utilized to segregate consumers by income – but by race.

The implication here after the sub-prime mortgage scandals targeting blacks and other minorities for higher priced, and predatory loans, is that the basic tools for racial discrimination are present in the data collected by Google. Tools which will be utilized by the folks who brought you higher interest rates for black folks on everything from cars to houses – to further economic and job discrimination.

This is an excerpt from the article – follow the link and read the entire article to understand how it works.

The Cost of Lost Privacy, Part 2: “Pain Points,” Discrimination and Advertiser Use of Google Data

Reempowering Racial Discrimination: This targeted price discrimination based on behavioral tracking, unfortunately, directly enhances the most traditional kinds of racial discrimination. Study after study has shown that employers, financial lenders, car salesmen and other merchants continue to charge black and Hispanic customers more for the same service when they can identify them.

For example, a study by the Urban Institute using paired “testers” — one white person and one person of color with similar economic profiles — found that non-white homebuyers received less favorable financial terms from mortgage lending institutions. Job seekers face similar discrimination with one study, where nearly identical resumes were sent to 1300 help-wanted ads, found that resumes with a “white-sounding” name were 50 percent more likely to get a call for an interview than one with a black-sounding name.

The Internet was supposed to let people escape such easy discrimination, but behavioral tracking makes such identification trivial. Add together someone’s taste in music and a few more characteristics and you have an almost perfect proxy for race. As Rebecca Goldin, a George Mason University professor, argued in a 2009 article, it’s clearly illegal to discriminate based on race, but if companies offer loan rates based on their shopping habits, it raises the question of “would it be legal or ethical to use the kind of music one buys to determine his or her loan rate?”

Given that we know straight up racial discrimination happens all the time in these commercial transactions, what the Internet supplies is a multivariate datamining opportunity to discriminate in ever more precise ways that may largely escape legal scrutiny.

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2011 in The New Jim Crow

 

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The New Jim Crow – The New Republican Poll Taxes and Minority Disenfranchisement

TRENDING: Bill Clinton compares new voting laws to Jim CrowWhen you do the Math – the coalition of Minority Voters and 20-30% of white voters makes it difficult for Republicans to win elections. Indeed, George Bush owes his illegitimate  Presidencies to systemic voter disenfranchisement of minorities – in what has become The New Jim Crow.

As such, along with disbanding Unions, Republicans across the country are using every weapon in the legislative arsenal to eliminate the black vote. Whether through gerrymandering political districts, or though more heinous tricks such as Voter IDs and purged voter rolls.

Republicans, wed to the “Southern Strategy”, the racial dynamics of white victimhood, the reactionary and racist Tea Party, and anti-immigration from brown countries – have virtually no chance of increasing the number of black, Hispanic, or Asian voters in their party.

So their solution is to “disappear” Minority voters.

Bill Clinton – no longer a political candidate for office, speaks out…

Bill Clinton compares new voting laws to Jim Crow

Former President Bill Clinton compared efforts by Republicans to change voting laws across the country to Jim Crow laws and poll taxes that historically disenfranchised African American voters.

Speaking before a group of liberal youth activists Wednesday, Clinton said laws in states like Florida and New Hampshire are aimed at limiting voter turnout and keeping young people from the ballot box.

“There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the voter Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit a franchise that we see today,” Clinton said at Campus Progress’s annual conference in Washington.

Jim Crow laws, enacted between 1876 and 1965, included fees and laws historically used to keep African-Americans from voting. Clinton said Republican governors and legislators are now trying to “keep most of you [young people] from voting next time.”…

Clinton was critical of regulations preventing same-day registration and specifically referenced Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s move in March to overturn a law that allowed convicted felons to vote after they completed their probation.

“Why should we disenfranchise people forever once they’ve paid their price?” Clinton said. “Because most of them in Florida were African Americans and Hispanics and would tend to vote for Democrats, that’s why.”

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2011 in The New Jim Crow

 

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The New Jim Crow – Prisons as the New Slavery

Same as the old slavery, except there’s no cotton involved…

The prison industrial complex profits from high numbers of convictions and long prison sentences. Privatizing the jail system has led to widespread abuse – and the United States incarcerating a larger portion of their population than Communist countries ever did.

The prison industry in the United States: big business or a new form of slavery?

Human rights organizations, as well as political and social ones, are condemning what they are calling a new form of inhumane exploitation in the United States, where they say a prison population of up to 2 million – mostly Black and Hispanic – are working for various industries for a pittance. For the tycoons who have invested in the prison industry, it has been like finding a pot of gold. They don’t have to worry about strikes or paying unemployment insurance, vacations or comp time. All of their workers are full-time, and never arrive late or are absent because of family problems; moreover, if they don’t like the pay of 25 cents an hour and refuse to work, they are locked up in isolation cells.

There are approximately 2 million inmates in state, federal and private prisons throughout the country. According to California Prison Focus, “no other society in human history has imprisoned so many of its own citizens.” The figures show that the United States has locked up more people than any other country: a half million more than China, which has a population five times greater than the U.S. Statistics reveal that the United States holds 25% of the world’s prison population, but only 5% of the world’s people. From less than 300,000 inmates in 1972, the jail population grew to 2 million by the year 2000. In 1990 it was one million. Ten years ago there were only five private prisons in the country, with a population of 2,000 inmates; now, there are 100, with 62,000 inmates. It is expected that by the coming decade, the number will hit 360,000, according to reports.

What has happened over the last 10 years? Why are there so many prisoners?

“The private contracting of prisoners for work fosters incentives to lock people up. Prisons depend on this income. Corporate stockholders who make money off prisoners’ work lobby for longer sentences, in order to expand their workforce. The system feeds itself,” says a study by the Progressive Labor Party, which accuses the prison industry of being “an imitation of Nazi Germany with respect to forced slave labor and concentration camps.”

The prison industry complex is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States and its investors are on Wall Street. “This multimillion-dollar industry has its own trade exhibitions, conventions, websites, and mail-order/Internet catalogs. It also has direct advertising campaigns, architecture companies, construction companies, investment houses on Wall Street, plumbing supply companies, food supply companies, armed security, and padded cells in a large variety of colors.”

According to the Left Business Observer, the federal prison industry produces 100% of all military helmets, ammunition belts, bullet-proof vests, ID tags, shirts, pants, tents, bags, and canteens. Along with war supplies, prison workers supply 98% of the entire market for equipment assembly services; 93% of paints and paintbrushes; 92% of stove assembly; 46% of body armor; 36% of home appliances; 30% of headphones/microphones/speakers; and 21% of office furniture. Airplane parts, medical supplies, and much more: prisoners are even raising seeing-eye dogs for blind people.

CRIME GOES DOWN, JAIL POPULATION GOES UP

According to reports by human rights organizations, these are the factors that increase the profit potential for those who invest in the prison industry complex:

. Jailing persons convicted of non-violent crimes, and long prison sentences for possession of microscopic quantities of illegal drugs. Federal law stipulates five years’ imprisonment without possibility of parole for possession of 5 grams of crack or 3.5 ounces of heroin, and 10 years for possession of less than 2 ounces of rock-cocaine or crack. A sentence of 5 years for cocaine powder requires possession of 500 grams – 100 times more than the quantity of rock cocaine for the same sentence. Most of those who use cocaine powder are white, middle-class or rich people, while mostly Blacks and Latinos use rock cocaine. In Texas, a person may be sentenced for up to two years’ imprisonment for possessing 4 ounces of marijuana. Here in New York, the 1973 Nelson Rockefeller anti-drug law provides for a mandatory prison sentence of 15 years to life for possession of 4 ounces of any illegal drug.

. The passage in 13 states of the “three strikes” laws (life in prison after being convicted of three felonies), made it necessary to build 20 new federal prisons. One of the most disturbing cases resulting from this measure was that of a prisoner who for stealing a car and two bicycles received three 25-year sentences.

. Longer sentences.

. The passage of laws that require minimum sentencing, without regard for circumstances.

. A large expansion of work by prisoners creating profits that motivate the incarceration of more people for longer periods of time.

. More punishment of prisoners, so as to lengthen their sentences.

HISTORY OF PRISON LABOR IN THE UNITED STATES

Prison labor has its roots in slavery. After the 1861-1865 Civil War, a system of “hiring out prisoners” was introduced in order to continue the slavery tradition. Freed slaves were charged with not carrying out their sharecropping commitments (cultivating someone else’s land in exchange for part of the harvest) or petty thievery – which were almost never proven – and were then “hired out” for cotton picking, working in mines and building railroads. From 1870 until 1910 in the state of Georgia, 88% of hired-out convicts were Black. In Alabama, 93% of “hired-out” miners were Black. In Mississippi, a huge prison farm similar to the old slave plantations replaced the system of hiring out convicts. The notorious Parchman plantation existed until 1972… (more)

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2010 in American Genocide

 

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The New Jim Crow — Enslavement By Dis-education

In most slave holding states prior to the Civil War in the United States it was illegal to teach slaves to read. There was a genuine fear that if they could read, they might read something  – Like the Declaration of Independence, which would cause them to resist their condition en masse.

Keeping folks ignorant of their history has been a prime method of enslavement and repression throughout history…

Things that go bump in the night in conservative minds...

Which is exactly why conservatives in Arizona are afraid of “diversity studies”, and conservatives in Texas “whitewashed” the textbooks.

One of the conceptual foundations roiling conservatives in Arizona is “Raza” studies. The following provides a thread of the precepts of Raza…

What State Officials Don’t Want Arizona School Children to Know

For the next few months, the world will be focusing on Arizona’s SB 1070 – the state’s new racial profiling law. However, in this insane asylum known as Arizona, where conservatives have concocted one reactionary scheme after another, another law in particular stands out for its embrace of Dark Ages-era censorship – the 2010 anti-ethnic studies HB 2281 – a law that seeks to codify the “triumph” of Western Civilization with its emphasis on Greco-Roman culture.
Unless it is blocked, HB 2281 – which creates an inquisitorial mechanism that will determine which books and curricula are acceptable in the state – will go into effect on January 1, 2011. Books such as “Occupied America” by Rodolfo Acuña and “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire, have already been singled out as being un-American and preaching the violent overthrow of the US government.

Both laws are genocidal: one law attacks the physical presence of red-brown peoples; the other one, our minds and spirits.

Lost in the tumultuous debate regarding what can be taught in the state’s schools is the topic of what actually constitutes ethnic/Raza studies. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2010 in The New Jim Crow

 

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The New Jim Crow, High Stakes Testing, Diversity, and Bigotry

Went through this same battle some years ago at our own local elite High School, complete with threats of lawsuits from the Federalist Society’s KKK racial enforcement arm, the misnomered Center for Equal Opportunity. Increasingly, educational researchers are proving that high-stakes educational testing is a failure. A number of elite Universities have either discontinued the SATs, or reduced their importance relative to academic selection oriented towards a more holistic view of the complete student profile.

That hasn’t quite percolated down to the High School level yet, where there is a tremendous parent investment in keeping the old, racially and economically biased system.

Case in point –

Diversity Debate Convulses Elite High School

Justin Hudson, Hunter College High School Graduate and Commencement Speaker

With one of its alumnae, Elena Kagan, poised for confirmation as a justice on the United States Supreme Court, it should be a triumphant season for Hunter College High School, a New York City public school for the intellectually gifted.

But instead, the school is in turmoil, with much of the faculty in an uproar over the resignation of a popular principal, the third in five years. In her departure speech to teachers in late June, the principal cited several reasons for her decision, including tensions over a lack of diversity at the school, which had been the subject of a controversial graduation address the day before by one of the school’s few African-American students.

Hours after the principal’s address, a committee of Hunter High teachers that included Ms. Kagan’s brother, Irving, read aloud a notice of no confidence to the president ofHunter College, who ultimately oversees the high school, one of the most prestigious public schools in the nation.

The events fanned a long-standing disagreement between much of the high school faculty and the administration of Hunter College over the use of a single, teacher-written test for admission to the school, which has grades 7 through 12. Faculty committees have recommended broadening theadmissions process to include criteria like interviews, observations or portfolios of student work, in part to increase minority enrollment and blunt the impact of theprofessional test preparation undertaken by many prospective students.

Eliminating the test, which has remained essentially unchanged for decades, is not on the table, said John Rose, the dean for diversity at Hunter College. The test, he said, is an integral part of the success of the school, which has a stellar college admissions profile — about 25 percent of graduates are admitted to Ivy League schools — and outstanding alumni like Ms. Kagan and Ruby Dee.

“Parents, faculty members and alumni feel very strongly that the test is very valuable in terms of preserving the kind of specialness and uniqueness that the school has,” Mr. Rose said.

As has happened at other prestigious city high schools that use only a test for admission, the black and Hispanic population at Hunter has fallen in recent years. In 1995, the entering seventh-grade class was 12 percent black and 6 percent Hispanic, according to state data. This past year, it was 3 percent black and 1 percent Hispanic; the balance was 47 percent Asian and 41 percent white, with the other 8 percent of students identifying themselves as multiracial. The public school system as a whole is 70 percent black and Hispanic.

When Justin Hudson, 18, stood up in his purple robes to address his classmates in the auditorium of Hunter College, those numbers were on his mind. He opened his remarks by praising the school and explaining how appreciative he was to have made it to that moment.

Then he shocked his audience. “More than anything else, I feel guilty,” Mr. Hudson, who is black and Hispanic, told his 183 fellow graduates. “I don’t deserve any of this. And neither do you.”

They had been labeled “gifted,” he told them, based on a test they passed “due to luck and circumstance.” Beneficiaries of advantages, they were disproportionately from middle-class Asian and white neighborhoods known for good schools and the prevalence of tutoring.

“If you truly believe that the demographics of Hunter represent the distribution of intelligence in this city,” he said, “then you must believe that the Upper West Side, Bayside and Flushing are intrinsically more intelligent than the South Bronx, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Washington Heights. And I refuse to accept that.”

The entire faculty gave him a standing ovation, as did about half the students. The principal, Eileen Coppola, who had quietly submitted her formal resignation in mid-June but had not yet informed the faculty, praised him, saying, “That was a very good and a very brave speech to make,” Mr. Hudson recalled. But Jennifer J. Raab, Hunter College’s president and herself a Hunter High alumna, looked uncomfortable on the stage and did not join in the ovation, faculty members and students said.

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2010 in The New Jim Crow, The Post-Racial Life

 

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The New Jim Crow – Why the US Justices System is an Injustice

Hat Tip to Truthout for this marvelous analysis and dissection of Justice in America.

The New Jim Crow, Just Like The Old Jim Crow - Just Fashionable

Fourteen Examples of Systemic Racism in the US Criminal Justice System

The biggest crime in the US criminal justice system is that it is a race-based institution where African-Americans are directly targeted and punished in a much more aggressive way than white people.

Saying the US criminal system is racist may be politically controversial in some circles. But the facts are overwhelming. No real debate about that. Below, I set out numerous examples of these facts.

The question is – are these facts the mistakes of an otherwise good system, or are they evidence that the racist criminal justice system is working exactly as intended? Is the US criminal justice system operated to marginalize and control millions of African-Americans?

Information on race is available for each step of the criminal justice system – from the use of drugs, police stops, arrests, getting out on bail, legal representation, jury selection, trial, sentencing, prison, parole and freedom. Look what these facts show.

One. The US has seen a surge in arrests and putting people in jail over the last four decades. Most of the reason is the war on drugs. Yet, whites and blacks engage in drug offenses, possession and sales at roughly comparable rates – according to a report on race and drug enforcement published by Human Rights Watch in May 2008. While African-Americans comprise 13 percent of the US population and 14 percent of monthly drug users, they are 37 percent of the people arrested for drug offenses – according to 2009 Congressional testimony by Marc Mauer of The Sentencing Project. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2010 in The New Jim Crow

 

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