Margaret Kimberley, Freedom Rider: How Mass Incarceration Affects Everything Else via Black Agenda Report
Every negative statistic that bedevils the black community is tied to the awful effects of imprisonment. It is not mysterious that a group with large numbers of its members locked away would have higher rates of HIV or lower rates of marriage or a median net worth of only $4,955.As Invisible Men so clearly points out, the large numbers of black men who are behind bars and who therefore disappear from productive life means that these dismal statistics would be even worse if the incarcerated were not also disappeared from the numbers.
Invisible Men is just the latest in a series of books such as The New Jim Crow and A Plague of Prisons which reveal the terrible toll that incarceration is taking on the black community. These works are seriously needed, documenting with hard data the depth of the attack on black people. Unfortunately, this plethora of books doesn’t seem to be lowering rates of incarceration. The great recession and its resultant budget constraints around the country have been the only thing forcing some states and municipalities to open up some of the prison doors.
It all may have started slowly, but the code words and race baiting were evident from the beginning. Terms like “law and order,” “war on drugs,” “dead beat dads” all meant that more and more black people would end up behind bars for infractions big and small. Yet it must be pointed out that code words exist for a reason. They speak with a nudge and a wink to the intended audience in a language that others may not understand.
There is a nagging question about these statistics, an elephant in the room as it were. America could not have become the world’s prison capital if a majority of the population didn‘t want it to happen. A recent poll regarding New Yorkers’ attitudes toward the NYPD stop and frisk policies shows a clear racial divide. Most whites polled, 55%, think that stop and frisk is acceptable while only 35% of blacks are supportive.