For poor communities of color, over policing and mass imprisonment is a reality that no one can afford to take for granted. To this day people of color are grossly over-represented in the population of incarcerated people. In Becky Pettit and Bruce Western’s study of mass imprisonment, they explain the significant, yet often ignored, relationship between mass imprisonment, race and class:
Street sweeps, undercover operations, and other aggressive policing efforts targeted poor black neighborhoods where drugs were traded in public and the social networks of drug dealing were easily penetrated by narcotics officers. If poor black men were attracted to the to illegal drug trade in response to the collapse of the low-skill labor markets, the drug war raised the risks that they would be caught, convicted and incarcerated… By the 1990’s race, class and drugs became intertwined… (Pettit, Western, 154).
Mass imprisonment is yet another strong example as to why post-race ideology is inherently flawed and illogical. Despite mounting evidence displaying a strong and dangerous correlation between race and imprisonment, Americans are slow to call for reform of the prison system as a whole. In a post race America, instead of recognizing how the criminal justice system has become racialized to the detriment of poor communities of color, these rates are dismissed as an inevitable likelihood regarding the underclass. We seem to fall back on the idea that criminality is somehow inherent in, and unique to, poor communities of color. Because of post race ideology, we do not allow ourselves to even entertain the idea that higher rates of incarceration for people of color have anything to do with racism, or racist stereotypes. More importantly, while we don’t say this explicitly, mass imprisonment of people of color is often taken as a sign that our police force is doing a good job at keeping us safe from perceived danger. In fact, as Pettit and Western further explain, “changes in criminal sentencing and supervision reflected a historic shift from a rehabilitative philosophy of corrections
- NewWaveFeminism - “The Dangers of Post-Race Rhetoric”