Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow, 2010

Monday, 23 October 2017 10:27 am
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A devastating masterpiece. When Trump was elected, I was afraid that my lifelong nightmares of concentration camps would come true. I should have known that they already had. Since the inception of Reagan's War on Drugs, the USA has been a for-profit carceral state.
Today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against criminals in nearly all the ways that it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once you’re labeled a felon, the old forms of discrimination—employment discrimination, housing discrimination, denial of the right to vote, denial of educational opportunity, denial of food stamps and other public benefits, and exclusion from jury service—are suddenly legal. As a criminal, you have scarcely more rights, and arguably less respect, than a black man living in Alabama at the height of Jim Crow. We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.

I had known bits and pieces of this - one can hardly live in America without knowing it. Alexander's achievement is to put together the evidence in as damning an indictment as one can imagine. The fact that this was written two years into the first Obama administration, and seven years before the inauguration of a white supremacist demagogue, just underscores the seriousness and urgency of its message. Black lives matter.

Marcus Wicker, Silencer, 2017

Thursday, 12 October 2017 09:38 am
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I read this on the recommendation of the great Roxane Gay. Like everything she recommends, it's excellent.

grant me a few free hours each day. Grant me a Moleskine pad & a ballpoint pen with some mass. Grant me your gift of this voice. Pages & pages of this voice, in a good book from a loving press. & grant me a great love, too. Grant a way to provide for my love. Like, a tenure-track job at a small college in the Midwest.

Wicker draws the reader in with this likable, conversational-confessional frankness. His project isn't to emphasize our shared experience, though. It's to draw attention to the cracks.

The danger in consuming the Grey Poupon is believing that you, too, can be a first-generation member of the elite, turning your nose up at soul music, simple joy, fried foods, casual Fridays—essentially everything I’m made of.

Under late capitalism, we are all subject to precarity, but no one more so than a black man in a police state. Wicker challenges us not to look away.

What’s the use in playing it like everything’s going to be OK for me in the event of mortal catastrophe

Grant this guy tenure, and bulletproof skin.

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