Saturday, December 12, 2015

Starting to take it apart

GUEST: James Kilgore, writer and social justice activist who spent six years in prison, talks about one of the books he was inspired to write while behind bars: Understanding Mass Incarceration: A People's Guide to the Key Civil Rights Struggle of Our Time.

James Kilgore presents the case in a way few people have done. I found his narrative very easy to understand, especially the connections he points out between a neoliberal economic system and incarceration of human beings for corporate profit. 

Mr. Kilgore is white, and I asked him if only white people were unaware of what our criminal "justice" system had become. He said that whites were the least informed, of course, because it was mostly not happening to them. Their schools were not in the poorest inner cities, and geared to criminalize student behavior. Their kids aren't stopped on the streets because of skin color. They could afford better lawyers and demand preferential treatment by white judges. Yes, the term "white privilege" is often a mystery to whites. Blacks have felt the pain of racism for centuries.

The movement is more than a wakeup call to whites, however. It is a chance for all of us to work together to undue systemic racism. Understanding Mass Incarceration shows us the nuts and bolts of oppression. It is up to an informed mass movement to start taking it apart. 

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