Last night, I went to the Michelle Alexander talk about the “New Jim Crow.” I found her talk really interesting and learned something totally new. Previously, I had known about the mass incarceration of African Americans, but never really knew the extent of the issue. Ms. Alexander made a good point that the African Americans that are profiled and sent to jail are incarcerated for the most minute of offenses. And since they then have a criminal record, they are completely held back from participating in society. I actually think that this is detrimental to society as a whole. The amount of talent that is being held back by meaningless incarceration must be astounding. I think that our country’s police force is way too driven by personal reasons to arrest people. I wonder where our society would be today if this were not such a prevalent issue.
On the other hand, however, I am very curious about Ms. Alexander’s credentials. I know that her academic credentials are impressive, but I know nothing about her background. Where did she grow up? She mentioned that she turned a blind eye to mass incarceration until semi-recently. So, I wonder if she is from a well-off family, or if she grew up with white relatives. I couldn’t really tell how much bias was in her case.
I also wish that she would have given more statistics. Obviously this “punitive impulse” is a tragedy and needs to be addressed, but I am a person that likes hard-core facts and I thought that her argument was missing some statistics. She presented a few compelling facts in the beginning but I was eager to hear more. The movement that Ms. Alexander wants to be picked up is a very compelling one but I feel that she would win more people over to her cause if she had given more “shocking” facts. An emotional story is great and heart-wrenching but I would have loved more information about her and the possibly unbiased reality of mass incarceration in America.