The Land Of The Free? : Mass Incarceration As The New Jim Crow

1689 Words Dec 12th, 2016 7 Pages
The Land of the Free?: Mass Incarceration as the New Jim Crow
By Rosie Kereston

What were the Jim Crow Laws Before a comparison can be drawn between the phenomenon of mass incarceration in the United States and the Reconstruction-era Jim Crow laws, it is important to note what these laws were, what effect they had on citizens, and why they were instituted in the first place. The term “Jim Crow” is actually a direct reference to a racist, traveling musical act from the 1830s. Blackface was used comically in these performances, and it provided yet another reassurance to viewers that African Americans were clearly inferior to their white neighbors. The phrase had become synonymous with African Americans by the 1890s, for which the discriminatory laws were eventually named (ACRU). After the Civil War tore the country apart both politically and socially, the South was left to try to rebuild some semblance of normalcy. Their normal had very recently been subjugating thousands of black slaves for labor and not acknowledging their humanity, so southern politicians were faced with the task of reconstructing their governments to include these inferior people as equals. White supremacy was alive and well in many areas of America at the time, especially the South, so it was not seen as a problem when racial discrimination became law. Politicians adopted the slogan, “Separate but Equal”, in reference to segregating blacks from whites in public spaces, government, and numerous…

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