A Special Message from Michelle Alexander --
July 27th, 2012
Bringing Down the New Jim Crow is being created by Chris Moore-Backman, a talented radio documentary producer who is dedicated to raising awareness about the system of mass incarceration and the War on Drugs, including the harms, who benefits, the complicity and privilege of certain white communities, and the need for grassroots movement-building rooted in a human rights framework. Two pilot episodes have already been produced, one focusing on the relative immunity that exists for white drug markets and marijuana cultivation in Northern California as compared to the hard time afforded folks of color in impoverished urban areas across the nation; the other is a conversation between me and Tim Wise about caste, white privilege, and what it will take to transform public consciousness and end the system as we know it (as opposed to mere tinkering with the mass incarceration machine).
About $12,000 has been raised in an incredibly short amount of time, but Chris still needs to raise an additional $5500 by the morning of August 2nd, or all the funds raised thus far in this Kickstarter campaign will be lost.
Please pledge now, and do what you can to support this grassroots effort to ensure the truth is told and heard. We cannot rely on the mainstream media. This is work that we must do ourselves, and I'm thrilled that people like Chris are stepping up, rising to the challenge that this moment presents. If you've already pledged, you can increase your pledge, and if you haven't done so yet, here's your chance.
Thanks so much for supporting this project, and for all that you do to help build this movement.
BRINGING DOWN THE NEW JIM CROW: A Radio Documentary Series
Thank you so much for visiting the Kickstarter page for Bringing Down the New Jim Crow!The goal of this campaign is to garner enough support to launch an ongoing radio documentary series that will expand public discourse on the intersection of race, the drug war, and justice in the United States. Building on two pilot episodes (A Bitter Harvest: California, Marijuana, and the New Jim Crow, and On the Other Side of the Myth: A Conversation with Michelle Alexander and Tim Wise) the series aims to interpret and strengthen the movement to end mass incarceration and our nation's pattern of resurrecting Jim Crow, by exploring the meaning and call to action at the heart of Michelle Alexander's deeply important book The New Jim Crow.
The goal of $17,500 represents enough funding to develop, produce, publicize, and distribute the next five radio documentaries in the queue, and to publish and promote a cd box set of the series along with a companion discussion guide. The box set and discussion guide will be geared toward those groups (faith communities, schools, social justice organizations, etc.) that wish to explore the content of the shows more deeply, within the context of their own lives and communities. If this campaign is successful Michelle Alexander and Vincent Harding have offered to serve as advisors to the series. If we surpass our goal, all additional funding will go toward additional episodes in the series.
Five Radio Documentaries, a CD Box Set, and a Companion Discussion Guide
The following five topics are next in line for the Bringing Down the New Jim Crow series. Each will be formatted for hour-long radio broadcast:
(1) Frat Row vs. Skid Row: The Racial/Socio-Economic Disproportionality of Drug Law Enforcement;
(2) Living with the New Jim Crow: Conversations with Loved Ones of Incarcerated Men and Women of Color;
(3) The War On Drugs: Human Rights Nightmare on Both Sides of the Border;
(4) Still At It: Veterans of the African-American Freedom Movement on the New Jim Crow;
(5) White Allyship in the Era of Mass Incarceration
(Topics are subject to change depending on current events and unforeseen epiphanies!)
If we reach our goal we'll have the ability to produce highly professional, well-crafted radio shows, and to devote the time needed to cultivate connections with radio networks, programmers, and program directors throughout the country, so the documentary series reaches a diverse national audience. Internet outreach will also play a key role to make the series as accessible as possible via the "creative commons." Lastly, the cd box set and companion discussion guide will add an essential element to the project, encouraging deeper reflection on these critical issues with a steady eye to the nature and importance of movement-building in the face of mass incarceration.
Please Pledge Today!
If you haven't already, I encourage you to watch the above video, and to listen to the pilot episodes of the series. These will give you a good sense of the type of work you'll be supporting. I'll also include a bit more description and back-story below, if you're interested in reading more. Thanks again, so very much, for visiting the Kickstarter page for Bringing Down the New Jim Crow!Please make a pledge if you're able, and send word to all your friends, family, and contacts.
A Little More On BRINGING DOWN THE NEW JIM CROW
A series of thank yous might best tell the story of how this possibility came about. Thank you, firstly, to Vincent Harding, whose accompaniment in my studies of Dr. King and the Freedom Movement seems to have set this leg of the journey in motion. Thank you to Ruby Sales for her honesty and eldering, and for inviting me to the SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) 50th Anniversary conference, where I recorded material for my first ever radio documentary and where I would inevitably learn of The New Jim Crow. Thank you to Michelle Alexander for researching and writing that book so passionately and so well, a book that describes what I and many others believe to be the most urgent task in this modern chapter of the continuing struggle to build and embody the beloved community right here in our fractured U.S. society. Thank you to Monica Bell, for raising such powerful questions about white privilege and the marijuana culture and economy in Northern California - the theme of the first pilot episode - and whose own deeply self-reflective reading of The New Jim Crow set the bar for my own. Thank you to Tim Wise for setting this whole series of events in a context I could little by little get my head and heart around. And thank you too to all at KZFR Community Radio in Chico, for the training, the support, and the access.
For those of you who haven't read The New Jim Crow I sincerely hope you will. Especially, I hasten to add, if you are viewed as white and treated as white in our society. White folks like myself have a special burden and a special opportunity in the face of mass incarceration and the history and racial dynamics Michelle Alexander lays out in her book. While the series is entirely geared for a multi-ethnic, multi-racial audience, it is my hope that Bringing Down the New Jim Crow will reach many of those white listeners who remain unexposed to or unmoved by the brutal everyday realities facing communities of color throughout our nation. The series seeks to catalyze difficult, necessary conversations about race, drugs, and justice in the United States - conversations that will help bring about the healing, the educating, and the organizing Michelle Alexander is calling for.
Let's get to it!
MASS INCARCERATION KEY FACTS:
*The United States incarcerates more people than any society in world history. Since 1972, the U.S. prison population has increased from 300,000 to 2.3 million. Today, one in 31 adults in the United States is in jail, prison, on probation or parole.
*The U.S. prison boom has been due to changing penal policy (the “war on drugs”), not increased crime. Since 1971 there have been more than 40 million arrests for drug-related offenses. Approximately 80% of drug-related arrests are for possession not trafficking. During the 1990s, the period of the largest increase in U.S. drug criminalization, 80% of the increase in drug arrests was for marijuana offenses.
*Even though African Americans and whites have similar levels of drug use and drug sales, African Americans are ten times as likely to be incarcerated for drug crimes. African Americans make up more than half of all prison inmates, though they make-up 12.4 percent of the population.
*African Americans serve nearly as much time in federal prisons for drug offenses as whites do for violent crimes.
*There are more blacks under correctional control today—in prison or jail, on probation or parole—than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.
*As of 2004, more African American men were disenfranchised (due to felon disenfranchisement laws) than in 1870, the year the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified prohibiting laws that explicitly deny the right to vote on the basis of race.
- (30 days)