The gains achieved by the Civil Rights movement are fond memories and are celebrated by holidays, memorials and pious speeches. Today, the U.S. has its first black president but while he’s attained political power many other African Americans are behind bars. The eternal war on drugs has resulted in the incarceration of many blacks. As law professor Michelle Alexander says, “Rather than rely on race, we use our criminal justice system to label people of color ‘criminals’ and then engage in all the Jim Crow practices we supposedly left behind:” such as discrimination in employment and housing, denial of food stamps, exclusion from jury service, and denial of the right to vote. The prison industrial complex is a profit-making machine dependent on more and more prisoners passing through its system. We’ve gone from the auction block to the cell block.
Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is active in local housing struggles in Chicago and is an organizer with the Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign. Her articles appear in “CounterPunch,” “The Black Commentator,” “Black Agenda Report” and “New Politics.” She is on the editorial board of the “International Socialist Review” and a columnist for Socialist Worker.org. She is the author of “Rats, Riots and Revolution: Black Housing in the 1960s.”
Recorded in Rosemont, IL on June 29, 2012.