Michelle Alexander

Recent Articles

Has Obama failed?

By Don Allen
Guest Commentator


As a card-carrying member of the Republican Party, I have to honestly say President Obama has not really failed. There are powers greater than him that still follow the political White-patriarchal system of checks and balances that he cannot interfere with. (One of them would be talking to Black Americans directly.)


Barack Obama won the votes of a majority of Americans. The re-election of the first Black president has made the history books and water cooler conversations. And now is the time for Black Americans to ask how we fit into the ephemeral vision called the American Dream. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , ,

Death warrants in Faribault

State of MN ignores deaths at State prison hospital in Faribault

”Today there are more African-Americans under correctional control — in prison or jail, on probation or parole — than were enslaved in 1850… Our system of mass incarceration…has devastated many of our communities…literally turning back the clock on racial progress in the U.S.”

— Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow:  Mass Incarceration in An Age of Colorblindness (New Press, 2010)


So who will lead the battle against this injustice of mass incarceration? Churches, nonprofits and government agencies, whose jobs rely on keeping the status quo? No. The gritty work is being done by courageous Black mothers, whose numbers will grow into a national movement (think of the Argentine mothers marching daily at the Plaza de Mayo to protest the 30,000 that were “disappeared,” 1975-1983). Were it not for the mothers of two African American inmates, Courtney Clark and Robert Hosely, at the Minnesota Corrections Medical Facility at Faribault, Minnesota, they would die without notice (see my columns of July 18 and July 25, 2012). Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

Investigate the racial context behind Martin’s death


By Jesse Jackson

Guest Commentator


If Trayvon Martin were not a young Black male, he would be alive today. Despite the verdict, it’s clear that George Zimmerman would never have confronted a young White man wearing a hoodie. He would, at the very least, have listened to the cops and stayed back. Trayvon Martin is dead because Zimmerman believed that “these guys always get away” and chose not to wait for the police. Trayvon Martin’s death shatters the convenient myths that blind us to reality. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

When good people essentially do nothing



Power, politics, and policy and the influence they have over African American people


Many children win medals for being the fastest runner in their school, yet for two siblings who attended a Crow Wing County school in Minnesota, their fate proved otherwise. Imagine being forced to push the merry-go-round as a six-year-old while being called “ni**er bi**h, coon, monkey,” and other defamations, until finally one day you grow tired and simply say “No!”
The reaction of your recess teacher is shock — who is this little Black child who would dare question the authority of a White woman living in America? So again the teacher yells, “Push the merry-go-round you Black ni**er bi**h,” and again you look her dead in the eye and tell her “No.” After all, you want to experience the same joy you witnessed on the other kids’ faces as you pushed and pushed the merry-go-round for countless recesses. Immediately the teacher grabs you by the ear and drags you to the principal’s office, with all the other children following, proclaiming to onlookers that they will teach this “coon, ni**er, monkey, and child of Satan” a lesson! As if the girl understands that there is power in numbers, she breaks away from her teacher and runs as fast as she can inside the building, down the hall that had suddenly grown despairingly dim, and abruptly into the classroom in which her sister resides. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,

We must challenge and change our system of mass incarceration


“Police!” The shout from outside the front door was followed by the house shaking violently from a stampede of police exploding through the door. I was a terrified four-year-old in Spiderman pajamas staring at high-powered assault rifles aimed at me and my mother. After ransacking our home, the police soon realized that they had raided the wrong apartment. It was 1982, the year President Reagan declared a “War on Drugs.” The war became a tool of a discriminatory and oppressive social control system. Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow (New Press, 2010) is a compelling analysis of how the war on drugs resulted in the mass incarceration of African Americans, which led to second-class citizenship. Continue Reading →

Filed under: , , , , , , ,