Michelle Alexander Quotes

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When we think of racism we think of Governor Wallace of Alabama blocking the schoolhouse door; we think of water hoses, lynchings, racial epithets, and "whites only" signs. These images make it easy to forget that many wonderful, goodhearted white people who were generous to others, respectful of their neighbors, and even kind to their black maids, gardeners, or shoe shiners-and wished them well-nevertheless went to the polls and voted for racial segregation... Our understanding of racism is therefore shaped by the most extreme expressions of individual bigotry, not by the way in which it functions naturally, almost invisibly (and sometimes with genuinely benign intent), when it is embedded in the structure of a social system.

-Michelle Alexander
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Michelle Alexander Quotes. (n.d.). Jar of Quotes. Retrieved , from JarofQuotes.com Web site: https://www.jarofquotes.com/view.php?id=when-we-think-racism-we-think-governor-wallace-alabama-blocking-schoolhouse-door-we-think-water-hoses-lynchings-racial-epithets-whites-only-signs-these-images-make-it-easy-to-for

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Michelle Alexander Quotes. Jar of Quotes, 2019. https://www.jarofquotes.com/view.php?id=when-we-think-racism-we-think-governor-wallace-alabama-blocking-schoolhouse-door-we-think-water-hoses-lynchings-racial-epithets-whites-only-signs-these-images-make-it-easy-to-for, accessed .

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The notion that a vast gulf exists between "criminals" and those of us who have never served time in prison is a fiction created by the racial ideology that birthed mass incarceration, namely that there is something fundamentally wrong and morally inferior about "them." The reality, though, is that all of us have done wrong. As noted earlier, studies suggest that most Americans violate drug laws in their lifetime. Indeed, most of us break the law not once but repeatedly throughout our lives. Yet only some of us will be arrested, charged, convicted of a crime, branded a criminal or a felon, and ushered into a permanent undercaste. Who becomes a social pariah and excommunicated from civil society and who trots off to college bears scant relationship to the morality of the crimes committed. Who is more blameworthy: the young black kid who hustles on the street corner, selling weed to help his momma pay rent? Or the college kid who deals drugs out of his dorm room so that he'll have cash to finance his spring break? Who should we fear? The kid in the 'hood who joined a gang and now carries a gun for security, because his neighborhood is frightening and unsafe? Or the suburban high school student who has a drinking problem but keeps getting behind the wheel? Our racially biased system of mass incarceration exploits the fact that all people break the law and make mistakes at various points in their lives with varying degrees of justification. Screwing up-failing to live by one's highest ideals and values-is part of what makes us human.

Michelle Alexander
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