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Racism, Prisons, and the Future of Black America

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Racism, Prisons, and the Future of Black America

I came upon an article bearing the above title after entering the word 'race' into my web browser search bar. After skimming through the article, I became interested in the topic and decided it would be worthy for using in my Race in the Media Analysis. The topic mentioned is that of the staggering number of Blacks within American prisons. In the year the article was published (2000), the number of incarcerated Blacks were slightly over half of the entire American prison population of roughly 2 million. According to the author, Manning Marable (a black man), that meant that 1 out of every 35 blacks are in prison. These figures astonished me and made me curious as to the cause of such disturbing statistics. However, I had a notion of possible causes. I would expect to find that the reason for such large numbers is based upon poverty, and the amounts of Blacks that grow up in ghettos. If blacks make up the majority of inhabitants of America's poorest neighborhoods, than that would be an obvious answer. It is my belief that people are more or less products of their environments, and if you grow up where there is poverty and crime, you are likely to remain poor and become a criminal. If a man or woman feels that there are no opportunities for them to make a decent living through an ethical job, then they will naturally look towards crime as a solution. It is simply a survival instinct.

After reading the article, it became apparent that the author's emphasis was on disparities in the criminal justice system in regard to race, specifically black versus white. Marable points out many statistics that suggest the presence of racism in within the court system. Some of these are:

* Among youth offenders, 66% of whites are referred to juvenile courts while only 31% of blacks are taken there.

* For young people who have never been to prison, blacks are nine times more likely than whites to be sentenced to juvenile prisons.

* For youths charged with drug offenses, blacks are 48 times more likely than whites to be sent to juvenile prison.

* White youths charged with violent offenses are incarcerated on average for 193 days after trial, blacks for 254 days, and Latinos for 305 days.

I think that these numbers can be interpreted in different ways, and I believe that the author would like us to believe that the courtrooms of America are indeed racist. These numbers are suggesting, but they are not obvious evidence for racism. The way in which the article is worded



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