I’ve just read Chris Hayes’ new book, A Colony In A Nation, an “analysis of America’s arbitrary and erratic criminal justice system.” I think Hayes accurately interprets the America we live in—where one group is treated as citizens and another group as the colonized.
Statistics alone tell the story. “The United States is the most violent developed country in the world.” Our homicide rate (while having fallen in recent years) is higher than that of any other developed democracy in the world! One out of every four prisoners in the world is an American—incarcerated in our state and federal penal system—“even though the United States has just 5 percent of the world’s population.” Having spent nearly twenty years in the Yokefellow Prison Ministry, visiting prisons around the nation, I am quite familiar with this terrible dilemma. Something is wrong!
But it gets even worse. Black men are six times as likely as all white men to be incarcerated in federal, state and local jails (2013 Pew Research Center study) and Blacks only make up 13 percent of the nation’s population! One out of every four black males born this year (if the trend continues) can expect to go to prison/jail at least once in his lifetime. Something is wrong!
We, as a nation and society, want to see ourselves as living in a post racial world, but Hayes suggests that by nearly every empirical measure—wealth, unemployment, neighborhoods, incarceration, school segregation—racial inequality hasn’t changed much since 1968. Hayes’ analysis disturbs me. I thought there had been movement toward equality. I thought things had gotten better. Hayes has convinced me that my thinking has been wrong. But something else is wrong, too—and it isn’t just my “thinking!” We have A Colony within our nation—where one group is treated as citizens and another group as the colonized. I commend Chris Hayes’ book to you—and, by the way, it isn’t “fake news,” though I wish it were.
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