Monday morning the Changemaker Bookclub met at the Frances McClelland Community Center to discuss our personal reactions to The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. As an individual, I have been aware of the racial disparity in the age of Mass Incarceration. I grew up knowing people who looked like me were more likely to be incarcerated. This knowledge inspired a greater value on fairness and justice. In an age of mass incarceration for communities of color how can we inspire greater compassion and care and move into a place of action for criminal justice reform? The important aspect is to consider who is deserving of compassion and care which is related to what we have as a society value in Justice. To us, justice is a person paying a personal debt for their mistakes with their money, their time, and their freedom. To us, Justice is a sentence. Something with a beginning and an end, to repay back to the victims of a loss. Justice is the quality of being fair and reasonable. However, the Life Sentences that the societal vision justice imposes extend farther past the completion of a probation, prison, and parole sentence. This is beyond the scope of what is fair and reasonable.
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander compares current practices of justice and its relation to colorblindness in mass incarceration. The problem with being colorblind is that when we avoid the topic of race in mass incarceration, we are not seeing who really is represented in our prison populations. It allows us to be blind to what is really happening in our justice system. When one third of our nation’s African American males and a quarter of Latinos are incarcerated– yet we scrutinize men of color for lack of engagement in their communities. We are seeing colorblindness fail our communities of color. This is beyond the scope of fair and reasonable.
Now understanding the failure of fair and reasonable justice for our communities of color, how do we inspire and model care and compassion for individuals who are formerly incarcerated to advocate for actual justice?
The Changemaker Bookclub meets at the Frances McClelland community center to discuss the issues and our responsibility for racial justice. This conversation will continue on October 12 with our next book of the Changemaker Bookclub series, The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin.-we hope that you will join us for this on-going conversation.
-Sara Cota Galaz
Sara Cota Galaz is a Master’s of Social Work Candidate at Arizona State University’s School of Social Work-Tucson Component working with the YWCA of Southern Arizona’s advocacy programs. She is a proud Wildcat Alum with earning her BA in Political Science from the School of Government and Public Policy. She is an advocate for issues relating to economic justice and its intersectionality between workforce development for women in poverty, mass incarceration, and reentry. She is a member of the Oracle Board-Greek Advisory Board at the University of Arizona, Pima County Re-Entry Coalition, and the Coalition for Fair and Just Policing.