Western Courier

Jim Crow Incarceration Discussions Planned

Tabi Jozwick

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Starting on Feb. 24, Western Illinois University will be hosting a six-week discussion series on Michelle Alexander’s book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.”

 The discussions, each date focusing on one of the six chapters, will take place on Wednesdays starting Feb. 24 from noon to 12:50 p.m. in the Mary Lou Kent Conference Room on the sixth floor at the Leslie F. Malpass Library.

 “The New Jim Crow,” which spent two years on the New York Times best sellers list, focuses on the large number of African American and Hispanic men being sent to prison as the result of the war on drugs. Alexander, as stated in a press release, argued that “We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it,” as a result of the war on drugs. 

 English professor emeritus Janice Welsch, who is co-coordinator of the series, hopes that the “New Jim Crow Discussion Series” will bring attention and understanding of this issue to people and to bring changes in a criminal justice system that targets a large number of African American and Hispanic men that people still insists that the American criminal justice system is colorblind.

 The Feb. 24 discussion, “Introduction and the Rebirth of the Caste,” facilitated by African American Studies Chair F. Erik Brooks, will focus on how the racial caste systems emerged and changed over time in the United States.

 The Mar. 2 discussion, “Lockdown,” facilitated by Law Enforcement and Justice Administration professor Barry McCrary, will focus on how the War of Drugs kept many people locked up in the criminal justice system for life.

 The Mar. 9 discussion, “The Color of Justice,” facilitated by Enforcement and Justice Administration professor emerita Gayle Carper, will focus on a “formally race-neutral criminal justice system” arresting more African American and Hispanic men than European American men.

 The Mar. 23 discussion, “The Cruel Hand,” facilitated by Director of Human Resources Pamela Bownman and Macomb community member Allen Henderson, will focus on felony imprisonment makes it impossible for people to reintegrate into their communities after completing their sentences.

 The Mar. 30 discussion, “The New Jim Crow,” facilitated by Byron Oden-Shabazz of Facilities Management and Dianne Fullenwilder-Bracey of Academic and Advising Services, will focus on how the pre-Civil Rights Movement Jim Crow and the new Jim Crow are similar and different and how the new Jim Crow impacts whites.

 The April 6 discussion, “The Fire Next Time,” facilitated by Director of the Office Equal Opportunity and Access Andrea Henderson and Department of Health Sciences and Social Work chair Lorette Oden, will focus on how civil rights advocates and activists can end mass incarceration and overturn the racial caste system that took place throughout American history. 

 The “New Jim Crow Discussion Series” is co-sponsored by the Department of African American Studies, the Center for Innovative Teaching and Research, the Expanding Cultural Diversity Project, the Department of Health Services and Social Work, the School of Law Enforcement and Justice Administration, the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access and the Office of Public Safety.

 The “New Jim Crow Discussion Series” schedule and registration for the discussion sessions are located at CITR website at www.wiu.edu/CITR. While it is not required to read the book before the discussion periods, it’s highly recommended.

 Copies of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” can be checked out at the Malpass Library or at a public library or one can buy it at a local bookstore or online.

 For more information, contact CITR at (309) 298-2434 or CITR@wiu.edu or Welsch at JR-Welsh@wiu.edu

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Jim Crow Incarceration Discussions Planned