Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Excellent historical overview: The Panthers Can't Save Us Now

The Panthers Can't Save Us Now:
When confronted with the figure of the white convict, Alexander has argued that he is in fact “collateral damage,” the unintended victim in what is a fundamentally anti-black War on Drugs. Even when presented with the contradiction between the Jim Crow analogy and the class dynamics of incarceration, Alexander doubles down and seems to think that referring to nonblack prisoners as collateral damage is still a politically useful approach. “When a white kid in rural Nebraska gets a prison sentence rather than drug treatment he needs but cannot afford, he’s suffering because of a drug war declared with Black folks in mind,” Alexander contends. “And by describing white people as collateral damage in the drug war it creates an opportunity for us to see the ways in which people of all colors can be harmed by race-based initiatives or attacks that are aimed at another racially defined group.”30 This is a terrible evasion, an attempt to cling to an ideological faith even when actual social conditions require a different approach. The prison expansion and the turn to militaristic hyper-policing are not motivated principally by racism. Whether in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood or the Ozark country of southern Missouri, the process of policing the poor is orchestrated by the same diverse cast of beat cops, case managers, probation officers, district attorneys, public defenders, prison guards and wardens, social reformers, conservative and liberal politicians, weapons manufacturers, lobbyists, nonprofits, and foundations: a kind of social control complex that has been growing by leaps and bounds as poverty, cynicism, and the surplus population increase and the neoliberal era grinds on.
Read it all.