Race and Politics in the US
Racial caste system is a social and class structure in which people are determined by heredity. In relations to caste system, those at the top enjoyed more right and least duties while those at the lower level handle most duties with fewer rights. In other words, those falling outside the caste system were considered to be lesser persons. Mostly, the African Americans formed the majority of the lesser people due to inadequate chances to exploit their talents and grow economically. It was due to this racial discrimination that agitated strong campaign for Obama to occupy the office for the second time. Overall, president Obama has been trying to balance the universal politics between not basing his leadership on race and dealing with the challenges facing the blacks. However, opponents who thought President Obama cared for the African America usually humiliates the president. The opposition also came from the black law makers who fault him of not using his office to shun assault on racial disparity.
According to the book, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander, the discrimination against young black men exposed the operation of a racial caste system which is a form of injustice for African American people. It is not that nobody was there to fight for the plight of African Americans, but a large percentage could not move. This is because the law barred the blacks from public debate, attending schools, and accessing opportunity. According to Alexander, the formation of a new system to control racial discrimination collapsed because it created and maintained the racial hierarchy, “mass incarceration operates as a tight networked system of law, policies, customs, and institution that operate collectively to ensure the subordinate status of a group are defined largely by race” (13). However, this argument does not hold following the reelection of president Obama by the same people. Racial caste system exist in the US, it is only that the system does not require “racial hostility or bigotry to thrive” (Alexander 14). The Civil Rights activists movement was an indication of breaking the law and order according to the vice president Richard Nixon, he stated that increased crime “can be traced directly to the spread of corrosive doctrine that every citizen posses an inherent right regarding the laws” (Alexander 41). From this sentiment, it is evident that the federal government felt that, civil right protests was an act of criminology rather than political in nature. In fact, the speech laid a foundation of police harassment stating that black integration was a threat to peace. However, this was the only way the African Americans could air their grievances to the federal government.
By 1770s, the system created a barrier between the poor white and the black slavery. That is, the poor white had a direct link with the patrols and militia. Through this elite split, the labor force transformed into racial caste system because the poor whites responded logically to their situation and expanded racial privileges. Despite that the African American worked hard in the whites’ land, they were perceived to be lesser and uncivilized people who lacked intelligent. This is indication of racial caste system since the black could not get economic and social privileges. For example, the blacks required fundamental rights like education and good shelter if at all they were to become good citizens in future. It is believed that these rights will motivate the black to work harder.
The content and structured of the original constitution promoted racial caste system. Through this system, the Southern slaveholders and Northern white demanded the federal government to protect their property interest. The constitution also allowed African American the liberty to have the right to conduct their affairs despite the humiliation and suffering they encountered. The division of power between the federal government and state allowed political powers to be retained among slaveholding states and institution of slaves. Although during the 19th amendment, the constitution tried to abolish slavery, it had exceptions that allowed slavery for punishment once one committed a crime. This was a true reflection of how African American suffered the caste system.
Despite all the odds, the whites maintained racial caste system after the civil war. The castes system was propagated through regional alignment which facilitated mass incarceration in the US when the whites switched their focus on drugs. As such, the Supreme Court amended laws that permitted the police to carry random searches without warrant, in the quest to expand the government authority and legislation. However, due to rapid economic change, the fortune of the white people who engaged in drug crime reversed because most African Americans were locked in prison for wrong reasons. The majority of drug users and dealers were white, but 3 out 4 of those imprisoned for drug offences were blacks (Alexander 96). The survey further revealed that of all the races, the white especially the youth used a large amount of drugs compared to other races (Alexander 97). The police targeted the poor folks at an early age, often before the age where they could vote and branded them criminals. These stigmatizations underserve the moral care of blacks in America.
Nevertheless, the routine stoppage and frisking without reasonable cause relegated the blacks to permanent under caste. Alexander asserts that, the blacks were arrested whether they committed the crimes or not and often branded criminals which eventually denied them the opportunity to vote, discriminated them against justice, excluded them from access to education, housing and public benefits. Ironically, most Americans violated the law not just by accident, but with full consent on the intentions of the law.
Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York: New Press, 2010. Print.
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