The American Prison System Essay

1388 Words May 16th, 2016 null Page
“The current American prison system is a leviathan unmatched in human history.” (Loury, 4). A leviathan; a beast as old as the book of Job, and even when made a myth, incessantly feared. A leviathan, an immovable force by which any hope of subduing is false, and the mere sight of is overpowering. Made to be an indestructible being, “king over all that are proud,” a leviathan doesn’t just describe the American prison system, but the institution racism has created in America as a whole. Prison, and imprisonment, are aspects of the systematic racism that built the United States. This system relies on internalization, prolonged manipulation, and fear. This system is a result of the white perception of the black body. And because of how effective this system has been, it is incessant, with no conceivable resolution. Black authors like Etheridge Knight and Ta-Nehisi Coates address these detrimental effects the white gaze has had on the black body, primarily the perpetual enslavement, the leviathan, which has occurred as a result.
In his published letter to his son, Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates defines racism as a visceral experience that, “…dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones [and] breaks teeth.” (10). Much like the leviathan that is the American prison system, racism is an entity that has the power to damage a person internally. Both whites and blacks have been manipulated through the visceral experience Coates described,…

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