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Essay about Are Prisons Obsolete Analysis

“When I was coming up, it was a dangerous world, and you knew exactly who they were. It was us versus them, and it was clear who them was. Today, we are not sure who they are, but we know they’re there” (George W. Bush). The words of the former President Bush clearly highlight the fear of the enemy that it is often referred to as the “other. ” The fear that someone threatens safety makes people constantly surveil those around them, especially those who are different from them. It is fear that makes people gullible to believe in the negative stereotypes that revolve around the “others.

Thus, making the oppression of this group to be acceptable for the sake of their security. In “No Justice for Trayvon: White Women in the Jury Box,” Monica Casper highlights how the fears of the “others” tend to divide people by creating the labels “Us” and “Them. ” Us or We, portraying the good civilians and Them or They as the poor, uneducated, criminals. By oppressing the “others,” this binary system normalizes total institutions, such prisons, and apartheid in the name of security. One clear example of the fear of the “Others” is illustrated in the article, “Security Moms. ” The author

Inderpal Grewal discusses how feminist mothers advocate highly on national security and prisons. Grewal emphasizes that these mothers are willing to oppress others for the protection of their family, especially their children. One of Grewal’s interviewee shares, “Nothing matters to me right now other than the safety of my home and the survival of my homeland” (Grewal 26). Grewal’s interviewee, Michelle Malkin expresses that the oppression of “others” is justified for security reasons (Mahmud). Safety is used as a common tool that keeps people segregated and unequal by having a binary system that ivides the oppressors and the oppressed.

Not surprisingly, most victims of the oppression are people of color and the poor. Grewal states, “What remains is not just the fear of the terrorist Other but also fear of the “underclass,” “gangs, “drive-by shootings” . The fear of the racialized figures of male violence . particularly of the black or brown male rapist, figures that are one again called forth when Malkin states her dear of “Islamic fanatics” and “illegal aliens’- both masculine figures again infiltrating the so-called safe space of her home” (Grewal 36).

Another key point that Grewal addresses is how nationalism, the love for the country, is another tool that allows the oppression of the “others” to be acceptable. For instance, in the article, “How Does it Feel to Be a Problem? ” Moustafa Bayoumi shares that after the 9/11 terrorist attack in the United States, many civilians strongly advocated for Arabs to have “special IDs” and to reinforce security checks (Bayoumi). He also claims that after the terrorist attack hate crimes, crimes motivated by racial or other prejudice, against Middle Easterners increased.

Grewal oints out women take a crucial role in this oppression because they are the main influence of change. She states, “Mother[s] reveal the attempts of the neoliberal state to move its work on security into spaces that are deemed to be private in multiple ways. Thus the mother defines the proper gendered female subject within the home, community, civil society, and nation as defined by right-wing religious movements as well as the neoliberal state.

Such privatization turns the personal into the political and defines the work of security as everyone’s job’ (Grewal 29). In other words, feminist precautionary mothers take an essential part of the reinforcement of the security to protect their loved ones. But do total institutions work? “Are Prisons Obsolete? ” the anti-prison activist Angela Davis addresses the issue of mass incarceration and the widespread growth of American prisons. In her article, she comments that “on the whole, people tend to take prisons for granted.

It is difficult to imagine life without them” (Davis 15). Going back to Grewal’s argument, prisons are built with the purpose to ensure the safety of society. For security reasons, people tend to blindly rust the justice system, in the hopes that crimes will stop. One perfect example that shows the blind trust towards the criminal justice system is when Casper asks a white woman about the unfairness of the Zimmerman verdict, and in response the white women comments, “We need to trust the justice system” (Casper).

George Zimmerman was found not guilty for the death of Martin Trayvon, a seventeen- year-old African- American high school student, who didn’t do anything other than looking suspicious in the eyes of the law enforcement. This again, goes back to the binary system of the “Us” versus “Them,” ortraying delinquents as people of color. The mentally that criminals are people of color allows law enforcement to use racial profiling or suspecting of someone having committed a crime based on their race and ethnicity. Thus, people of color who live in poverty end up being the victims of incarceration.

Davis addresses that although people think prisons are the solution to reduce crime, she argues that is not the case, she says, “When the drive to produce more prisons and incarcerate ever larger numbers of people occurred in the 1980s during what is known as the Reagan era, politicians argue that “tough n crime” stances, – including certain imprisonment and longer sentences-would keep communities free of crime. However, the practice of mass incarceration during that period had little or no effect on official crime rates.

In fact, the most obvious pattern was that larger prison population led not to safer communities, but, rather to even larger prison populations” (Davis 12). Davies points out prisons are not reducing crime at all; in fact, the mass incarceration that has been going on for years shows that prisons are not an effective solution. Davis questions why people are so eager to build more prisons when research has hown that total intuitions do not make communities any safer. She comments, “We take prisons for granted but are often afraid to face the realities they produce.

After all, no one wants to go to prison. Because it would be too agonizing to cope with the possibility that anyone, including ourselves, could become a prisoner, we tend to think of the prison as disconnected from our own lives” (Davis 15). Davis expresses that total institutions such as prisons are ways to divide the “others,” the uneducated, poor people of color. As stated before, the binary system of the Us” versus “Them,” often makes people discriminate against those who are different from them. This is when privilege determines who is the “Us,” and who is the “Them.

In “A Question of Class,” Dorothy Allison shares her struggles as a lesbian coming from a low-income background. She expresses that being poor label her as the “other. ” However, her white privilege makes her have more opportunities compared to her black peers. Allison argues that “The horror of class stratification, racism, and prejudice is that some people begin to believe that the security of their families and communities epends on the oppression of others, that for some to have good lives, there must be others whose lives are truncated and brutal” (Allison 35).

Based on her experience, she observes that people, in order to keep or protect their privilege, have to oppress the “others. ” The fear that someone threatens our comfort zone makes us do anything for the sake of the security of our privilege. By using the binary system, we segregate ourselves from the others, who often criminalize and we constantly oppress others for being different than us. It is fear that keeps this nation divided between “We” and “They. “

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