This leads you in a reformist direction when where you need to go is to making Revolution -- Nothing Less -- to get rid of the system that is responsible for mass incarceration, wars for empire, brutality and degradation of women and so much more. (For an in depth polemic of the Prison Industrial Complex conception go to Revolution #259 , February 12, 2012.)
There is a lot more to say about the need for Revolution-Nothing Less to end the horror of mass incarceration once and for all. Let me direct those who want to dig further into this revolution I'm talking about here to the following web site: www.revcom.us/movement-for-revolution/BAE/film.html . There you can find info about a film of a recent talk by Bob Avakian, leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party, titled: "BA Speaks: Revolution-Nothing Less!" This film is about the very real possibility of ending once and for all the madness, degradation, brutality and more that is so much a part of life today.
A New Jim Crow?
Michelle Alexander has done a great service by calling this a New Jim Crow. While this falls far short of a fully scientific assessment of what mass incarceration comes down to, she does make clear that she's using the term to make clear that we are dealing with a new form of social control, one that results from the criminalization of whole sections of people and not from the criminal activity of those people who end up incarcerated. This gets at a central question we have to break through on -- the Bill Cosby/Barack Obama line that the horrible conditions Black people are faced with stem from their lack of taking personal responsibility for their lives. I.e., the young men won't pull their pants up, the parents won't turn off the TV and make the kids do their homework, the dads are absent, etc. Alexander does well on that last point by saying where the absent dads are is warehoused in prison because they have been criminalized.
The point here is that the New Jim Crow (NJC) has you going in the right direction to understand what we're dealing with here. But it doesn't take you far enough to fully understand it.
" We have to pose that revolution is the hope of the hopeless."
Dixon is correct that NJC thought can mislead you on how to build resistance to mass incarceration. It is essential to not fall into seeing the necessary resistance movement being a rerun of the movement that broke the back of Jim Crow. One thing we ran into very quickly in moving from taking on Stop & Frisk in New York City to squarely targeting mass incarceration, is that some folk couldn't make the pivot with us. They saw people who got stopped and frisked as being innocents who were unfairly targeted, but when we started going after mass incarceration, even some of the people who got arrested with us over Stop & Frisk were like, "Hold up, CD. Those guys in there are criminals." We're finding it necessary to get into the mechanics of how the system has criminalized these youth -- sucked the jobs and other means of legitimate survival out of the community and geared the educational system to fail our youth, thus facing them with futures of hopelessness. And we have to pose that revolution is the hope of the hopeless.
Let me wind this up by addressing Bruce's discussion of who's going to take this on. We are going to have to double-team them on this one -- going first and foremost among those who are being targeted by mass incarceration and unleashing them to stand up and resist. At the same time, we have to go to people who aren't up against this horror, bring out the reality of what is being done to people and challenge them to join in the opposition to this horror. Here I don't just mean better off Blacks and Latinos, but also white people who are essentially being told that inflicting these horrors on Blacks and Latinos is necessary to keep them safe. This is secondary to going to the people who are forced to live their lives enmeshed in the web of the criminal "injustice" system, but it is an important complement to doing that.
I'm going to get into all of this in more depth at a conference at Columbia University on April 5 and 6 on Alternatives to incarceration. (Angela Davis is one of the featured speakers at this conference, while I will only be on a panel the following day. I'm expecting that the PIC analysis will be in the air, and I will have to engage it in some depth.) And again at the SAMI National Conference at Howard University, in Washington, DC, on April 19 and 20.
I hope to update people as the details on these two conferences become clearer.
Crossposted from Black Agenda Report.
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