Dismantling Structural Inequality: Lock Ups, Systemic Chokeholds, and Race-Based Policing--A Symposium Summary
7 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2019 Last revised: 7 Apr 2019
Date Written: March 28, 2019
Foregrounding Paul Butler's book Chokehold, James Forman Jr.'s Locking Up Our Own, and Angela J. Davis' Policing the Black Man, this symposium offers a wide ranging, comprehensive, and critical discussion of structural inequality and its devastating manifestations in the criminal justice system. Exploring three interlocking oppressive features of the criminal justice system, this symposium unpacks structural inequality by analyzing: (i) the societal presumption of Black criminality and violence, and how this rationalizes and reinforces a structural chokehold on African-Americans; (ii) the complex systemic relationships between Black leadership, crime policy, and decision-making leading to disproportionate incarceration rates for African-American males; and (iii) systemic practices from racial profiling to a flawed grand jury system that insulates unjustified violence and police misconduct from scrutiny at trial. The symposium integrates several distinct conceptual approaches to theorizing the disproportionate impact of the criminal justice system.
Keywords: Presumption of Black criminality; mass incarceration; structural inequality; violence against Black bodies
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