It is no longer socially permissible to use race, explicitly, as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. So we don't. Rather than rely on race, we use our criminal justice system to label people of color 'criminals' and then engage in all the practices we supposedly left behind.
Activists take the risks, while advocates are professional tinkerers with the system. What's necessary is for those who are advocates to support those who are activists and to envision themselves as activists.
I think most people have a general sense that when you're released from prison, life is hard, but, you know, if you work hard and apply self-discipline and stay out of trouble, you can make it. But that's true only for a relative few.
When we pull back the curtain and take a look at what our 'colorblind' society creates without affirmative action, we see a familiar social, political, and economic structure - the structure of racial caste. The entrance into this new caste system can be found at the prison gate.
Surely, we've got a way that we can tinker with this system that shuttles our children from decrepit, underfunded schools to brand-new high-tech prisons.
I believe this system of mass incarceration would have Dr. King turning in his grave. There's no doubt in my mind that Dr. King would be doing everything in his power to build a movement to end mass incarceration in the United States; a movement for education, not incarceration.
The fact that our legal system has become so tolerant of police lying indicates how corrupted our criminal justice system has become by declarations of war, 'get tough' mantras, and a seemingly insatiable appetite for locking up and locking out the poorest and darkest among us.
As described in 'The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,' the cyclical rebirth of caste in America is a recurring racial nightmare.
The sprinkling of people of color through elite institutions in the United States, due to affirmative action policies and the limited progress of middle-class and upper-middle-class African Americans, creates the illusion of great progress.
Martin Luther King Jr. could have argued that separate water fountains were too expensive, a waste of money. He would have been right about that. But cost was beside the point.
The clock has been turned back on racial progress in America, though scarcely anyone seems to notice. All eyes are fixed on people like Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey who have defied the odds and achieved great power, wealth, and fame.
Our nation has slashed budgets for education, job training, economic development, and drug treatment while investing billions in prisons and militarized police. A penal system unprecedented in world history has been born. Millions have been arrested and stripped of basic civil and human rights.
Once you've acquired a criminal record, you can be discriminated against legally in employment, housing, and access to education and public benefits. You're relegated to a permanent second-class status, forever a 'criminal.' Inflicting this amount of unnecessary pain and suffering is not cheap.
In this era of mass incarceration, the police shouldn't be trusted any more than any other witness, perhaps less so.
The same kinds of stereotypes and hunches that George Zimmerman used when deciding that, you know, Trayvon Martin seemed like a threat in his neighborhood, law enforcement officers employ all the time.
Our criminal-justice system has for decades been infected with a mindset that views black boys and men in particular as a problem to be dealt with, managed, and controlled.
More than 90 percent of criminal cases are never tried before a jury. Most people charged with crimes forfeit their constitutional rights and plead guilty.
Almost no one refuses the police when confronted on the street or in a train or plane or train station. When you're confronted by the police, very few - either the foolish or the very brave - will refuse consent when confronted by the police.
Top-quality public education, universal health care, and free child care are among the many benefits provided by the state in Norway, reflecting its long-standing egalitarian culture and spirit of communitarianism - a spirit that extends to its prisons.
Now that private prison companies have found that they can make a killing on mass incarceration, these private prison companies are now in the business of building detention centers for suspected illegal immigrants.