Common’s New Album is Anything But

This week, the rapper Common released an album titled Black America Again. It’s genius. Pure activist genius, right before Election Day. His music is complex and interesting, his lyrics exploring the nuances of systemic racism in the United States. He focuses on an array of issues, including mass incarceration, the injustices occurring in Flint, Michigan, and cultural stereotypes, which marginalize people of color and perpetuate systemic inequality. “The Day Women Took Over” highlights the accomplishments made by black women, from Michelle Obama to Rosa Parks to Maya Angelou. “Letter to the Free” focuses on the New Jim Crow laws, with … Read more

Disenfranchisement in the Era of Mass Incarceration

In light of the upcoming election, I think it’s important to talk a bit about the connection between disenfranchisement and mass incarceration in the United States. Since watching the 2016 Netflix documentary called 13th and reading Michelle Alexander’s fifth chapter from her book The New Jim Crow, I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways mass incarceration will affect the results of the election in just a few days. Here are a few things that I never knew about mass incarceration and felony disenfranchisement that I believe are important to share with you: Although the United States holds only 5% … Read more

When Law and Order Hits Close To Home

In “Law and Order SVU: Season 13, Episode 6“ there is an episode involving a complicated situation regarding race.  In this episode, a college-aged white girl is raped at gun-point by a black male.  Throughout the episode they begin to question the girls story, learning that she is dating her piano teacher and cheated on him with another black male the night before.  The lawyer hired to take on the rapists case is a black male, who claims that SVU is basing the investigation on stereotypes, and insisting that he did not commit the crime.  The episode ends with the … Read more

Fostering Racism

For our final project for Contemporary Racism, we were placed into groups, asked to pick an interesting topic concerning race, do individual research, and record a podcast with our group. My group chose to look at racial disparities in the American foster care system, a subject about which I had no prior knowledge. At first, I was uneasy about choosing a topic that I knew nothing about, feeling as if my unfamiliarity would provide me with some sort of handicap.  However, in retrospect, the experience was a very appropriate way to conclude my time in Contemporary Racism; it allowed me … Read more

Why Can’t All Bodies be Different, but Fought For the Same?

In her book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander (2010) spells out the issues of the master narrative, which has, since the abolition of slavery and strategic implementation of the war on drugs and mass incarceration, legitimized and hidden from the American people what locking up thousands and thousands of Black bodies has done. The emergence of crack cocaine in impoverished streets and mandatory minimum sentencing laws covered up the racist intentions of politicians to win the vote of the southern working class Whites who were feeling threatened and uneasy by Black bodies – … Read more