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Towards a More Just Society?

(Photo by Robin Holland)

This week on the JOURNAL, Bill Moyers spoke with social justice advocates Bryan Stevenson and Michelle Alexander about the persistence of systemic racial inequalities in American society and Dr. Martin Luther King's vision of a more just society.

Michelle Alexander described her view of a criminal justice system that she sees as discriminatory against minority groups:

"Individual black achievement today masks a disturbing underlying racial reality. To a significant extent, affirmative action - seeing African Americans go to Harvard and Yale and become CEOs and corporate lawyers - causes us all to marvel what a long way we have come. But much of the data indicates that African Americans today as a group are not much better off than they were back in 1968... Just a couple of decades after the collapse of the old Jim Crow system, a new system of racial control emerged in the United States. Today, people of color are targeted by law enforcement for relatively minor, nonviolent, often drug-related offenses - the types of crimes that occur all the time on college campuses, where drug use is open and notorious, that occur in middle class suburban communities without much notice... [They are] arrested, branded felons, and then ushered into a parallel social universe in which they can be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries, and legally discriminated against in many of the ways in which African Americans were discriminated against during the Jim Crow era."

Bryan Stevenson argued that mass incarceration disproportionately impacts vulnerable populations and is fundamentally incompatible with the core American value of equal justice:

"There are structures and systems that have created poverty and have made that poverty so permanent that, until we think in a more just way about how to deal with poverty in this country, we're never going to make the progress that Dr. King envisioned... We have a criminal justice system that's very wealth-sensitive. Our system treats you better if you're rich and guilty than if you're poor and innocent... If we keep ignoring the poor, I think we not only undermine Dr. King's vision, but we corrupt our values. The observant said you judge the character of a society not by how you treat the rich and the privileged and the celebrated. You judge the character of a society by how you treat the poor, the condemned, the incarcerated... We've got to find ways to inspire people, to challenge people, to confront people to recognize that a commitment to justice cannot be reconciled with a commitment to mass incarceration. A commitment to fairness cannot be reconciled with the conditions and demographics that we now see in poor and urban communities."

African American economist Thomas Sowell has suggested that some groups are more likely to have values that are conducive to success in American society than others and, thus, that a level playing field conflicts with the desire for all groups to achieve roughly equal outcomes. In a recent column, he argued that society lacks the ability to compel different groups to achieve the same results:

"Most of us want to be fair, in the sense of treating everyone equally. We want laws to be applied the same to everyone... Whether any human being has ever had the omniscience to determine and undo the many differences among people born into different families and cultures -- with different priorities, attitudes and behavior -- is a very big question. And to concentrate the vast amount of power needed to carry out that sweeping agenda is a dangerous gamble... There is no question that the accident of birth is a huge factor in the fate of people. What is a very serious question is how much anyone can do about that without creating other, and often worse, problems. Providing free public education, scholarships to colleges and other opportunities for achievement are fine as far as they go, but there should be no illusion that they can undo all the differences in priorities, attitudes and efforts among different individuals and groups."

What do you think?

  • Michelle Alexander compares today's struggle to the Jim Crow era. Do you agree? How do you think the quest for a more economically and racially just society has changed over time?

  • In your view, what would constitute a just society? What measures could move the country in that direction?

  • How are you mobilizing to work towards a more just America?

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    - My own people didn`t see me as a performer because they were busy trying to make a living and feed themselves. Until I got to café society in the `40s, I didn`t even have a black audience and then it was mixed. I was always battling the system to try to get to be with my people. Finally, I wouldn`t work for places that kept us out . . . it was a damn fight everywhere I was, every place I worked, in New York, in Hollywood, all over the world.

    Lena Horne: 1917 - 2010

    I think that we should pull back are troops from the war in Afganistan.

    When I watch this program. The only thing that stuck in my head from the smart young lawyers were when said human rights. I know nothing about law but I know alot about being a human on this planet. Rights of a human is to be a free spirit free in the mind knowing that that all humans is in the same race for perfect love. It up to the people in this world to believe that no man deserve to be in prison. People who broke the law send them to a place where they can be renewed mently. Remove them to a new location where they can start a renewed way of living loving not harming. Its possiable but it take faith and hard work. But I like the idea of what the lawyers said take half of the money they use to inprison one person and give it to a child at the age of five to help them avoid getting locked up before or after the age of 18. It doesn't matter what happen I'm still going to do my part inspiring those who listen to encoragement of love peace and serventhood.

    To DCE,

    Thank you.

    Mr. Bill Moyers,

    Before you leave for your most deserved retirement / break from PBS I wish you could invite Thomas Cahill back to the Journal.

    The stereotyping of Whites as all being good old boys of KKK by Blacks, Hispanics and Asians can only be settled by you and Thomas Cahill.

    The recent repeat of “Eyes on the Prize” Civil Rights documentary on PBS brought back to the forefront the good Christian White Man that fought with and for the rights of a Black Man to which all minorities benefited from, via the brutality and bloodshed against the innocent in the 1960’s.

    The story line would be “the imposed religion of christianity” upon African slaves in the southern states as was portrayed in the television mini series “Roots”.

    I want a discussion of how minorities in general but especially Blacks felt from the 1600’s thru the 1990’s about being forced to accept christianity at the end of a musket and whip in shackles.

    The thought of all the prayers the first African slaves must have cried out to the same religious figure, to that of the christian white slave owners has always made me ask, “how could the children of African slaves, a generations or two later or even 350 years later pray to the same religious figure of the christian white slave owners that enslaved them by torture and death.”

    I wouldn’t want John Lewis, James Cone or Jesse Jackson to answer this question because I already know what they’d say, I’d like to hear Thomas Cahill answer that question in the same way he’s answered every other question, from the heart.

    I guess there is no god or religion to you, better tell the conservatives,maybe they will realize the hypocracy of their ways.
    Posted by: NLF

    Posted by DCE
    I realize there is both religion and God.
    This reality is not a random accident. It has order, continuity and purpose.
    Unfortunately, it also has people with a free will that have destructive tendencies.
    "Conservative" has become synonymous with Sociopathic greed.
    The established religions have become more concerned with wealth and power than their human values and responsibilities.

    To D.C. Eddy,

    I guess there is no god or religion to you, better tell the conservatives,maybe they will realize the hypocracy of their ways.

    Is it fair that we’re not all genetically identical?
    Is equal outcome a definition of fairness?
    Posted by Gordie

    Posted by David
    The first truism to know is that life is not fair; it is a challenge. Coping skills is an important human attribute.

    The second truism to know is that reality is a cause and effect system that creates situations that need to be dealt with realistically.

    People can create heaven or hell depending on their response to reality.

    I first discovered Mr. Moyers on the other side interviewing Joseph Campbell in the Power of Myth series. And since then have been an ardent listener to all that is Bill Moyers. An understatment of the year but Thank you so much!!!!

    Noticed Moyers was referred to as Reverand in a few of these posts. Is this a fact or is it that radical liberals use that referance so people who hear what he says, believe him because he is/may be a man of the cloth?? obama is referred to as a messiah and look what happened to this country.

    The only equal outcome I’m sure of is that everyone eventually dies. Is that fair? To whom or what would an appeal be made? To God with our petition prayers? To government to make death illegal?

    Is it fair that we’re not all genetically identical?

    Is equal outcome a definition of fairness?


    I have only on thing worth saying. The whole Justice department is primed toward prosecutions only. A person charged with a crime who cannot afford is passed to a Lawyer who is paid by the state, and apparently much less than state prosecutors earn. I believe therefore the best step is that where very serious crimes are involved The justice and state attorneys general and thier departments should have defence lawyers as well for any crime conviction of which involves a more the 15 year minimum sentence.

    Dear Bill, Michelle and Bryan,
    Thank you so much for the discussion. It is long past due for confront what continues to happe in America under the guise of the criminal justice system. I am a member of All of Us or None and we are commmited to fighting Jim Crow in this 21st Century. I hope in the future you will coninue this discussion.
    Susan Burton

    Your show with Michelle and Bryan did a wonderful job laying out causes for poverty in our nation and the need to develop a social movement to deal with it. I was left with the hope that a subsequent program will lay out the vision and the process for such a movement. I think an interview with David Korten would do this well. His book, An Agenda for a New Economy, is an excellent resource for this. If we are at long last really going to attack poverty, we will need to make some mayor changes in how business is conducted.

    I watched my recording of "Toward A More Just Society." As always, that was a very good show. I am a Euro-American (some call that, "white") with a single drug-related conviction from 31 years ago. I am presently underemployed due to the economy. But the real problem is the drug-related conviction. It did not hurt me in the '80s and '90s as a rising tide raised all ships. Now, I am hurting because of single criminal record from 31 years ago. I applied to be a census worker. It asked if I had any convictions from the last 10 years. I do not. but despite my Vietnam Veteran status and outstanding written test results, I am on the FBI list and they (census bureau) want lots more information which they already have, and whose official documentation from a far-away state, I don't have. Basically, I can't even get a temporary, entry-level census job, and that's under as liberal a government as we will ever see. Financially, I have a hangman's noose around my neck because I can't get a job due to a criminal record even though I didn't hurt anyone or take anything! Yes, the right-wing's net caught me, too, as it discriminates on the basis of class as much as race. And now I am permanently screwed.

    Everybody can talk, talk, talk,

    But the truth of the matter is, as long as America is a Capitalist nation, nothing will change.

    MJA opined, in part, "It will take much more than the efforts of a few good men to clean up the terrible wrongs we have made, it will take the true strength and unity of us all, it will take the truth, the equitable true Oneness of us All, to keep the Promised Land, to keep ourselves as we are meant to be, free."

    Do you really BELIEVE that "we" can go from 30 years of hysterical selfishness

    to the equal, but opposite DELUSION

    of "we are all one"

    just because shamans start chanting it...and "perception is reality"?

    Always from one extreme to another with you self-proclaimed "leaders" of "thought"...


    The Promised Land

    "Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land!"

    The Promised Land is not on the other side of the mountain, it is under the mountain of inequitable garbage we ourselves have made. We live in the Promised Land; we are the Promised Land, only spoiled rotten by ourselves. And as we wait for the garbage men and others like Dr. King to come and clean up our own mess, to clean up ourselves, the pile of garbage continues to grow. Today that mountain of inequity that Dr. King stood on is still there but even higher or deeper than before. It will take much more than the efforts of a few good men to clean up the terrible wrongs we have made, it will take the true strength and unity of us all, it will take the truth, the equitable true Oneness of us All, to keep the Promised Land, to keep ourselves as we are meant to be, free.

    Where's Dick and our future Secretary of State, Liz? (It must not be a fool moon yet) Palin got some help with Bachmann, but still she pullin’ a double shift. Somebody has to keep the base together while the Bush’s look sane.

    I really enjoyed listening to both Ms. Alexander and Mr. Stevenson. They should be applauded for all their hard work -- for walking the walk. This exchange is what I found to be the most interesting:

    MICHELLE ALEXANDER: I think it's critically important for us to recognize that throughout our nation's history, poor and working class whites have been pit against people of color. Triggering the rise of successive new systems of control. Even slavery. You know, many people don't realize that before we had an all-black system of slavery, there was a system of bond labor that included both whites and blacks working right alongside each other on plantations.

    Well, when blacks and whites joined together and challenged the plantation elite, and there were slave uprisings or bond laborer uprisings, the way in which plantation owners were able to split the workforce and gain control over their workers was by proposing an all-black system of slavery. Which led the white folks to believe that they had received some kind of benefit.

    And they no longer were willing to engage in struggles with the fellow black laborers, with whom they had once joined in struggle. And so, we had an all-black system of slavery in part because plantation owners wanted to prevent poor whites and blacks from joining together to seek economic justice.

    BRYAN STEVENSON: There's a tremendous effort right now to antagonize and polarize black and white, poor communities, and direct that anger towards new immigrants and people in this country who are undocumented. And I think that has to be challenged and resisted.

    I also see this happening, and this right here shows that Mr. Stevenson’s principles are colorblind. Kudos.

    The Journal also posted this related link. This was the first time I had seen this interview with James Cone and it was really upsetting.

    Well emjayay. I agree with you that parenting, or the lack of it has been a major problem what causes some of these problems. It was horrible going to school everyday with that threat and it brings out hate for those people. Somedays the only food I would get to eat was the school lunch. I got tickets for that from my teacher to then have 4 Blacks grab me on a stariwell and take them. It really was that bad. As far as the drug laws and crime, they are misjudgements that happen. I know the laws are bad. I think about what I am doing before I do it. No one forces the hands of a drug buyer or dealer. They are all just judgements these people make. As far as slaves go, do you know that Africans used slaves for thousands of years before America was America. You still see the same here and in Africa. The systematic killing and raping their own people. Why can't people use common sense and realize this.

    Bringing slaves as late as the 19th century to the Americas was a willful act, premeditated and even giving "authority" by quotes from the Old Testament. Even the New Testament was rifled through for a re-write, but any real "christian" can tell you that it's nuts to try and use something that Jesus supposedly said in a parable to rationalize SLAVERY.

    So you have this element in USA that continues to create their "reality" based on beliefs that range from "chosen ones" to "genetically superior"

    and ALWAYS is it the PROFIT motive, unearned welath, that drives them to their depravity.

    Just as there are a plethora of historical "cultures" under the designation of "white" race, so there are in the other races - red, black, brown and yellow.

    To "divide and conquer" based on the TOTAL - "white vs black" - will INSURE that it won't be the "GOOD" people, in either and any race, that come out at the top of this evolutionary struggle triggered by 7 BILLION people.

    The "GOOD" are under attack - ECONOMICALLY - by liars, thieves and murderers GLOBALLY. Africa is a black on black story and nothing has changed - slave lords, weapons lords and drug lords.

    There is ONE TRILLION $$$ under the total control of this cabal of FOR PROFIT BUSINESSES.

    168,000 mortgage rewrites out of 6.6 million in foreclosure

    highest unemployment rate in the WORLD

    and dropping rapidly below 37th in health care quality.

    Yeah, go ahead and metaphysically babble about what you DID NOT read in the Urantia Book....considering that 99.9% of the people don't know what the heck you are talking about will not work a second time the way it did the first - nuts is just nuts.








    The absolute solution to an equation be it mathematical or emperical is simply equal, the pure genius of the Universe, of ourselves, that One calls Truth.
    Posted by: Michael J Ahles

    Posted by David C. Eddy
    Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction...
    We have to deal with several layers of reality as well as both physical and non-physical reality.
    When it comes to physical reality; it breaks down to strands of energy. These strands of energy have the capacity to create all of the forms of physical reality from sub-atomic particles to full blown galaxies.
    The realm of non-physical reality consisting of physical laws, rational and random order, percepts, concepts, continuity and purpose is all based on cause and effect. Physical reality is just as transient as is non-physical reality.
    People are a mix of physical and non-physical attributes that can and do function as creators of physical phenomenon.
    On earth, we are a major factor in the reality of earth as it changes in a sequence of events at various rates of speed.
    Through the capacity of reality systems to provide varieties of forms and transitions in a stable environment; people are able to create continuous life experience.
    Because of the laws that maintain the stability of reality and mutually exclusive possibilities; there is a limit to what reality can allow.
    Despite the limits to reality; there is an astounding range of possibilities and even the impossible is sometimes breached.
    Reality is what it is as it is and we need to deal with it realistically. There is no reason why the non-physical attributes of people cannot be continuous and the physical attributes reconstructed to form a new person with the same non-physical attributes such as personality and memory. Just like the laws of physics and the foundation of matter are consistent; so also are the souls of people.
    People have a free will and what they believe can become a reality within the limits of a very prolific reality.
    All things being equal is an essential element of reality just as all parts of the body are essential to the person; even what they believe.

    - Prosperity...has raised her hand to the knocker on the door. What shall we do? Shall we let her in or shall we drive her away?
    - Is it better to have equality at the price of poverty or well-being at the price of inequality?
    Posted by C. Ikehara

    Posted by D. Eddy
    Equity and prosperity are NOT mutually exclusive!
    In fact; there is no prosperity without Equity.
    Prosperity without equity is doomed to failure because it is infected with the self-destruct seed of poverty.
    Prosperity without equity is a fool's paradise. Equity is a necessary attribute of civilization.

    Emjayay considered, "Of course, demonstrable problems in black culture are mainly a legacy of slavery and subsequent discrimination, but that's mostly over, and now is the time to look at the existing problems in a realistic way and expend the resources to try to fix them."

    HISTORICAL FACT - At the height of the Roman Empire, the "slaves" brought into the Empire to do hard labour were able to earn their way to FREE status.

    Bringing slave labor to tame the North and South American continents

    as late as the 1800s

    was a mistake

    that created a problem

    that has no solution.

    And not only is it "far from over", the problem has NOT been correctly identified. Therefore, the "solutions" just serve to make things worse.

    Every "race" has to be able to clean out it's own degenerates. The "black" race, worldwide, has not been successful in having their "GOOD" people take the upper hand.

    They haven't been left alone by the other races long enough to EVOLVE their own standards. They haven't even had an agriculture epoch to call their own and benefit directly from the fruits of such basic HUMAN endeavours as providing for yourself the basics of life - food, clothing, shelter.

    The "white race" is barely hanging on to "Good" people being it's majority

    And the "yellow" is also in crisis in ways they don't seem to understand yet...

    So ALL "races" are a mess, or haven't you noticed?


    Sometimes a blend helps illuminate racial characteristics, sure.

    Tiger Woods and Obama are intersting case studies in regards to dominant racial traits and tendencies.

    Thanks, jw501 for supporting, in an anecdotal and personal way, my previous post. It's fine to analyse the historic causes of current problems, but then what? We have to recognise that despite many cultural contributions of black and brown society to the US and the world, enormous extremely counterproductive forces also are in effect in those communities. We have to admit to this and do something about it. Imprisoning huge numbers of black and brown people because of logically absurd drug laws and enforcement is one huge obvious problem. Creating cultures of dysfunction in subsidised housing is another obvious but somehow also ignored factor. Of course, demonstrable problems in black culture are mainly a legacy of slavery and subsequent discrimination, but that's mostly over, and now is the time to look at the existing problems in a realistic way and expend the resources to try to fix them. Both left and right are for their own reasons completely unable to do this. Maybe in a second term Obama will be uniquely positioned to do something.

    Concerning the book, "THE SPIRIT LEVEL: WHY GREATER EQUALITY MAKES SOCIETIES STRONGER", it may be of interest to know that Winston Churchill raised the following questions:

    - Prosperity...has raised her hand to the knocker on the door. What shall we do? Shall we let her in or shall we drive her away?
    - Is it better to have equality at the price of poverty or well-being at the price of inequality?

    The word "poverty" is derived from the Latin word, pauper-eris, meaning poor, meager, which according to the teaching of Jesus Christ is a necessary criterion for the rich man who asked to follow him. The Christian Church avoids debating this interpretation of Jesus’ meaning, as it simply fails to meet the mark for acceptance into Christian theological teachings. To believe this teaching places me within an unacceptable category of religious, academic, political, social, economic, etc., intelligentsia, as it supports another important teaching of Jesus Christ, equal distribution of resources, as practiced by early Christians. There are simply speaking too many PHD candidates from prestigious graduate schools, whose financial futures depend on maintaining the economic status quo to ever genuinely consider this teaching as valid, ergo, centuries of abstract philosophies continue to divert attention from the Master’s directive to his followers.

    Exactly how is the above statement relevant to the article at hand? To answer the question satisfactorily to assuage current intellectual trends is impossible; nevertheless relevance is applicable in a pragmatic vein. My suggestion to Bryan Stevenson and Michelle Alexander is to give up their economic, political, and otherwise status in the US to witness first hand that genuine poverty is color blind. Regardless of race, color, creed, situation, circumstance, or environment, in current US society, law is, always has, and always will be to protect those invested with private property . . . period! Poverty is managed by political power under the guise of government to evade insurrection of the masses . . . period!

    To continue debating dead horses is simply an irrelevant footnote to the words of St. Paul: The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. I Corinthians 15:56 . . . period!

    For those who report, believe, all biblical scripture has been altered to control the masses,
    to a degree this is accurate from empirical evidence of now two millenniums of interpretive distortions, as separated from the logos.

    I watched the show the other night. It is about a very good subject. I live here in the south where the common theme is that poor people are lazy and no one here wants their money going to them. What got me about this show was how they talked about racism bewteen poor whites and poor blacks. I grew up in a city up north and I grew up with a single Mother who had 5 kids and no support from my Dad. I went to Catholic school for my youth. There was no blacks there. Then I went to a city HS where there were at least 30 buses daily bringing them from other areas. The only racism I seen then was how they acted. They would stalk other kids in the stairwells. They would break into your locker. They would jump you in the bathrooms. I learned very quickly to fight and to always watch where they were. We actually had much older men come in the school and they would say its too cold to play basketball outside. Then they would grab you and punch you to take your money. Yes I agree the legal system is wrong to the poor but I also believe that most who are in there have criminal minds and deserve to be there. I am 44 years old and never once in my life had I had a white person ask me for money. I can't even remember how many times a Black man has asked me or tried to just take it. There was a commercial on tv that used to say we dont teach this in school and its not taught by parents but yet there is racism here. Why? They had images of KKK and Nazi and skinheads. Well my answer to that is they bring it on to themselves with their own actions. Down here people are racist to skin color. For me and where I am from its becuase of how they act.

    Mr. Moyer,

    As always, one of the few voices speaking "truth to power". Thank you for the vision and courage and conscience that you, without fail, bring to the ongoing debate. Don't "retire" too far. We need you!

    In this post I would like to offer one suggestion for immediate involvement to those who are looking for ways to engage in positive change.


    For those who consider that recent measures fall far short of providing universal health CARE; for those who are profoundly distressed at the ever-increasing divide between the haves and have-nots in this country, at the landslide of people falling into poverty; for those who wish to continue the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., lifting voices together in support of fundamental human rights and social justice in our country; for those who find the basic tenets of participatory democracy being increasingly threatened by entrenched special interests -- Please support and spread the word about:

    April 4-June 20
    "Join the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign on this historic march and caravan from New Orleans to the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit to demand guaranteed healthcare and housing for everyone in the United States. Rising from the ruins of natural disasters and economic storms, we unite – poor people, homeless people, social workers, activists, artists, musicians, people of faith, students, healthcare workers, lawyers, and more – we rebuild! Help us build the movement to end poverty!”

    On April 4th, 2010, Easter Sunday and the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination, poor people and their allies will unite with the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC to advance Dr. King’s dream of ending poverty. The March to Fulfill the Dream will visit dozens of cities between New Orleans and Detroit, the site of the US Social Forum 2010 to highlight the urgent need for affordable housing and healthcare in the United States. Housing, healthcare, and jobs are human rights according to the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, endorsed by the U.S. in 1948. Continuing the legacy of Dr. King’s 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, which was cut short by his assassination, the tour is part of a larger strategy to unite poor people’s groups and their allies from across the country to build a diverse nonviolent movement to end poverty. The PPEHRC caravan will visit many cities, including historic cities from the Civil Rights movement, for which Dr. King became the famous spokesperson. Each stop will include marches, demonstrations, and speak-outs led by poor people from the local cities, dramatizing the plight of today’s swelling numbers of the poor. Among the stops is Marks, Mississippi, where Dr. King launched the original Poor People’s Campaign in 1968 with a march and caravan to the nation’s capital."

    The march and caravan will converge with the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit, MI scheduled for June 22-26. Over 20,000 people from the U.S. and abroad will engage in plenaries and leadership development to continue the grassroots movement that Dr. King knew
    was essential to ensuring fundamental human rights and eradicating poverty and injustice.

    There are many ways to support and participate in this march and the forum. Please visit the sites above and share information about these groups and events with others!

    Thank you again, Bill Moyers, for always encouraging us to look inward, upward, and onward towards a vision of "justice for all".

    The absolute solution to an equation be it mathematical or emperical is simply equal, the pure genius of the Universe, of ourselves, that One calls Truth.


    Ms Alexander/Stevenson,

    How to right this wrong -
    For one, the NAACP, what are they doing - I went to them in Phoenix for advise concerning abuse in the workplace. All this ill-informed man said was - Go see the Human Resources Dept.(HR). - Just Who does the HR dept. work for?. Needless to say - I lost my job. The HR manager was there on my deposition- wispering to the opposite side, giving so-called evidence against me, and twisting the truth.
    This in the country of the so-called justice and liberty.

    To Reggie Jackson,

    That is why we need Government, Not American "Government", but government as is in the European countries, and almost the rest of the world.

    You bring out experiences that don't show any consequences of bad behavior, this is not accepted in Basic run Government as done under, for one the British government.

    This America needs to learn.

    MJA muses :-)

    "A Minority Of One

    The nature of a minority is inequitable until One sees truly even the smallest parts of the Universe as the equitable whole.

    A lion's tail is the lion as a minority is truly One or All.

    Not even the great Einstein could grasp it, can you?"

    Uh, "we are spirits in a material world"....? (song by the group called "The Police")


    What is absolute is the UNIQUENESS of EVERY "one".

    Get it?

    The "spirit" world, obviously, came first.

    Talk about "spirit" being GENIUS when it comes to math and physics...

    I doubt even Einstein would have been moved to crunch the numbers to construct the perfect amount of atmosphere that would allow the perfect amount of sunlight FOR LIFE to reach earth...

    certainly the banksters and pro-slavery "elites" would NEVER consider doing such a thing (even IF they had the smarts), now would they?

    A Minority Of One

    The nature of a minority is inequitable until One sees truly even the smallest parts of the Universe as the equitable whole.

    A lion's tail is the lion as a minority is truly One or All.

    Not even the great Einstein could grasp it, can you?


    Your interview with Michelle Alexander and Bryan Stevenson has haunted me for 3 days now. This program helped me see a new perspective, bent my brain in a new direction, made me itch for greater understanding. Thank goodness for the new Hero Alexander to show us the way of this Gordian Knot.

    Bees, ants and fish are able to come together in a society to provide for the common good. Perhaps we need to re-evaluate our vaunted evolution if we are still stumbling over this fundamental concept.

    Thank you for your dedication to truth. You will be sorely missed, but, you have given all of us the foundation to go on and seek our own truths.

    A lot of interesting stuff in this program, but where are the solutions? Blaming isn't so hard. Taking a hard look and solving the problems is harder.

    I have taught in city schools and I live in an primarily working class immigrant and minority neighborhood in Brooklyn and every day see parenting by various people on the subway. Typical: Black mother yelling at ten year old daughter: "Get your mutherfuckin feet off the mutherfuckin seat." Black mother snapping fingers on the face of a two year old to stop it from crying. Asian immigrant parents: holding kids, talking with them, teaching them letters and words on passing signs. Guess who's going to college, cooperating with others and getting the good jobs?
    There are now schools like KIPP schools, and general programs like that in Harlem which are directly addressing the crippling cultural deficits endemic largely in black and brown communities. This is what is necessary.

    Eliminating drug laws starting with marijuana. (This would radically reduce political corruption and violence all over the world as well.) And, hold your hats liberals, (I am very much one) eliminating housing projects of all kinds as fast as we can, no matter what the cost. And then eliminating Section 8 housing vouchers beyond short term. Concentrating social dysfunction in these places is a black hole of taxpayer money, and probably the major contributor to generations of dysfunction. Raise the minimum wage, provide health care for everyone, etc. instead. DuBois was right. So was Booker T. Washington.

    I was disappointed that the program was devoted to the issue of civil rights, when the issue of our time is really the corruptive influence of the GWOT on all aspects of that struggle, as we observe the anniversary of both Dr. King's death and his speech at Riverside Church. We did have an important PBS presentation by Tavis Smiley, but I would have preferred the emphasis to be on this critical issue with Easter coming on the same weekend. We need to be aware of the link between our own wellbeing spiritually and politically before we can even be entitled to discuss our economic wellbeing.

    All of this examination of racial "poverty"

    at times bordering on a classic "holier than thou" ego war

    falls apart completely when examining the REALITY

    of what is happening on the huge African continent TODAY where the "black" race is NOT the minority.

    It looks like you did an ecellent job of screening comments.

    What a powerful interview. Bryan Stevenson and Michelle Alexander were excellent...I had to listen to it twice. I've long believed that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed because he was focusing on economic inequality and uniting the poor and working class in this country.

    Imagine what could have been accomplished had he had a chance to get that movement going. It would have been something ...a real force to be reckoned with, but hard to imagine the "powers that be" letting a movement like that gain any momentum.

    What Michelle Alexander says.... about the criminal justice system being free from judicial scrutiny for racial bias and the Supreme Court closing its doors to any claims of racial bias in the absence of proof of intentional racial bias... is appalling....justice is blind alright and it's deaf too. This is a tragedy.

    We've been relaxing for Easter from building a handicapped bathroom for an elderly lady and thought the Journal staff and Mr, Bill might like hearing a little ruthless humor from Grady Lee Howard one last time. I copied this with permission off "The Watercooler" at radio station WFAE (PBS Charlotte). Martin Luther King had gotten beyond civil rights even as he assisted the Memphis sanitation workers. We all are "A Man", even the greedy and powerful rich who are trying to speciate (become an exceptional privileged race)away from the human family.

    I have little more to add myself except the adage we originated collectively here on Moyer's Talkback:
    "It is difficult or impossible for any person to become or remain extremely wealthy (Bill Moyers added "...or extremely poor) in a fair and just society,"

    Jesus, Martin and Grady

    Easter is a perfect time to discuss the science of applied violence. If one had to execute Jesus this Good Friday, say down in Cuidad Juarez (see author Charles Bowden), they might first beat, sexually humiliate, dress Him up in gay garb, terrorize Him with attack dogs and threaten to rape Mother Mary and Joseph: Interrogate, extraordinarily render, and interrogate some more. Getting down to business they'd shoot him through both hands and both feet (The Roman Army lacked guns, but what are our powder actuated tools but improved spears or nails?) and begin disembowelment (His wounded side.). Reading Michael Foucault one is turned on to the institutional uses of applied violence, so it is obvious how they'd hang Him up in a prominent public place (today the Internet) as a warning to the like-minded. The Bible story in the four surviving Books (the canon) has been enobled and sanitized, simplified into a myth. Crucifixion is only the spearpoint of a pervasive structural violence directed against dissenters and used to control needed labor or to dispose of surplus labor. James W. Trent, Jr, the excellent Christian philosopher explains these mechanisms very well.

    Jesus, not that I believe he was a real guy, is depicted a gifted speechmaker (sermons and parables) like Martin Luther King, and I'm quite the "talker" myself. When such people gain an audience it tends to get them into trouble. Some would say we're looking for trouble, in that we have been taught by upbringing how we must respect the Establishment in order to survive and prosper. Tavist Smiley risked his position this week with an in depth discussion of King's Riverside Church sermon April 4th, 1967, one year exactly before his appointed death. Martin and his circle had decided that silence about unjust war is itself a lie (Vietnam). He went on for 45 minutes about how the USA had become the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today (both then and now). Tavist likens the wastes of the Afghanistan occupation, and its cruel cultural externalities, to the parallel situation in Martin's time. Smiley's penalty remains to be seen.

    Cornell West, often a clown, observed how Martin Luther King has been SantaClaused, that the "I have a dream..." drowns out Riverside. If in 42 years MLK has been distorted into a impotent myth, then how much more must the Jesus myth be a con job after approximately 2010 years. I suspect the origins of Christianity to be much more bloody and political than any fundamentalist thug might suspect today. After all, the Abrahamic traditions are all employed as veils of state and sect violence contemporaneously, despite protestations and milder nonviolent varieties. Death is final and seldom painless, so it is no surprise that our traditional methods of mediating it share the same suffering and aggression. Through science and generalized education modern societies approached an horizon that would have eclipsed such primitive beliefs and legends, but now they are having to retrench. The violence it took to keep populations fearful and believing has itself become overly costly in energy and resources. A spiritual knowing in the individual heart (a precious phenomenon I treasure) is a far different thing than the organized religion that charges dues on behalf of an indigent Deity, and uses them to build little country clubs with day cares and academies of stupidity (deny scientific principles, political truths and justice).

    But if "the Religion" don't work anymore, if it can't scare the Natives, then what does this impute? I think the failure of religious efficacy is not the end of belief mystery, but is only the termination of a perversion. We all carry a spirit bundle in this society but some of us have opened it to discover a bag of trash. For instance, the passive nonviolence of Jesus curdles when combined with sacred property rights and sportscast patriotism. Violence itself (intimidation and media spectacle) may be the new religion fostered by the gargantuan global business interests that own the state apparatus. Even if our Imperial American Empire is able to extract wealth from the indebted underclass and can bully the world for awhile it is already among the living-dead. Corporations, and their operators/owners, at some point will find it a useless appendage. It has almost come to the point that not only is silence in the face of injustice a lie, but that speech in behalf of reforming a failing Establishment is an even worse falsehood. It's like lying to a stage 3 lung cancer sufferer, saying everything will be OK if you just cut back on the smoking.

    And what about Grady? Well, I've reached the realization that my talk about fixing this system is useless. Grandma is gonna pass away no matter how many drugs she buys or how many grab bars you install on the walls. The United States was born with several chronic defects and now they have become fatal. The industrial world is itself dying from ecological suicide. I feel heroic in that I've lived with medically induced dwarfism most of my life and have struggled to grow spiritually and seek justice for all as best as I could understand it. I turned 54 Thursday and have been lucky to have found the medical services and care that have delivered this miracle of longevity. I am elated that I will die right along with my country, just about the same time. I am curious by nature and glad to have lived in the most interesting, if the most depressing, era of human existence.

    On my birthday I received a call from the offices of Senator Arlen Specter, my former employer of 12 years, decades ago. He's 80 and is now a Democrat again, as he was when we met in Philadelphia. He has a tough campaign coming up against fascist competitor Pat Toomey and is requesting my services as a strategist and speechwriter. It was a very flattering and reconciling call following many years of resentment and animosity. I am thankful Arlen and I have laid down our longstanding grudges;he, because he's come closer to my ideology, and I, because I no longer believe our differences and betrayals matter. Its like when John Adams wrote Thomas Jefferson in their last days. I can imagine Specter on his July 4th deathbed rasping, "Grady Lee Howard yet lives!" But I had to cordially reject this new opportunity to serve. I'm already over on the iceberg in my parka with a thermos, watching the ship of state break up. I have spoken the unvarnished truth and am prepared for the consequences, even if that consequence be silence.

    I'm gonna smell some flowers this Easter. Meet me on the New River Trail (on my electric assist bike) near Roanoke, Virginia.

    Note: This will be my final Journal blogpost, but I wanted you to know we Figgers listened and discussed to the end of your program. JM

    I'm a bit concerned, who is going to bring shows like this with such insightful and truthful guests as today's after Bill retires? I don't see anyone on the horizon...

    Yes! Yes! Yes! There is too much injustice for the poor and all American African Black Citizens in the United States. Now that I know that it is legislated by some white ignorant American Citizens who allowed themselves to be pimped slapped by satan, who is much smarter than they will ever be; I am not surprised. Right now with no charges ever against me; I am fighting federal agents who I do not know for invading my financial privacy. Where is Eric Holder when we need him. Yes! The devil also pimp slaps the American African Black Citizens too!

    Holler If You Hear Me!

    This was an inspiring show that I would love to buy a copy of to show my grandchildren and other people I know. The imbalance described is serious but I try to think of the following things:
    1. We cannot change the past, we can only change behaviors and conditions from this day forward.
    2. Any strategy or mind set that separates US vs THEM only adds to polarization. The best we can hope to achieve is a level of awareness of our commonality. No walls or barricades or x-ray machines will protect against the results of imbalance past the tipping point.
    3. We must start with our own behaviors- each and every minute choice during each day can be different towards change and compassion.
    4. We cannot point to the behavior of others until we have changed our own behaviors.


    Dear Sirs,
    I just finished watching Mr. Bryan on Bill Moyers show.

    He’s got it right!

    I’ve been, in basically, a one man struggle to obtain justice for a Selma native,
    James H. Gresham.

    1st time / non violent / 2X Decorated Korean War Naval Veteran / Rosey Grier’s musical producer, 14 soul hits in the 60s / etc.

    He is 75 and in his 18th year of incarceration in the federal pen.

    James H. Gresham 03087-017
    2680 301 SOUTH
    JESUP, GA 31599

    Please follow this link to read the “Jim Crow” details.
    Any locked pages ID 123 Password same 123

    Thank You

    Listening to your program today, re Dr. Martin Luther King and your panelists. One panelist said something to the effect "we should be judged as a nation not by our wealth but how we treat the poor."

    It brought to mind a little book I had read this morning - entitled" If I Were Twenty-One" by Dr. Frank Crane copyright 1918.

    Dr. Frank Crane was a preacher at a great church in Chicago. He left the church to become a syndicated columnists across the United States as he felt he could reach more people.

    I quote the following:

    "I believe in the wage system as the best and most practical means of coordinating human effort. What spoils it is the large indigestible lumps of unearned money that, because of laws that originated in special privilege, are injected into the body politic, by inheritance and other legal artificialities.

    If I were twenty-one I would resolve to take no dollar for which I had not contributed something in the world's work. If a philanthropist gave me a milion dollars I would decline it. If a rich father or uncle left me a fortune, I would hand it over to the city treasury. All great wealth units come, directly or indirectly, from the people and should go to them. All inheritance should be limited to, say, $100,000. If Government would do that there would be no trouble with the wage system.

    If I were twenty-one I would keep clean of endowed money. The happiest people I have known have been those whose bread and butter depended upon their daily exertion"

    Interesting the parallels of how the bonded white laborers were co-opted to support slavery as well as a system of inequality that did not benefit them. And today, poor whites have been co-opted by racism and fear-mongering to support a system that does not benefit them - they protest against their own best interests. Seems not a whole lot has changed.

    I watched & listened to the interview. Many, many of the points made were done so without reasoned support, without facts, without specificity. There was much chaotic thinking displayed. It is okay to be guided by your "heart," but it is best to think with your head, and the arguments presented were poorly or not at all supported by argument or thinking with integrity. The individuals interviewed were simply complaining without end. Without justifying any specific change or cure they like to see. Chaotic thinking commanded the day.

    To: gininitaly

    These phony “god fearing church going christians” in the USA today are the descendant of the christians that owned slaves, and who then, as today continue to deny opportunities to Blacks and minorities.

    These christians love to say, “pull yourself up by your own boot straps” knowing damn well, they have no intention of letting them through the door.

    These christians use fear and hate to divide and conquer minorities within their own race, and no one can tell me these christians don’t call Blacks like Michael Steele and Clarence Thomas a N-I-G-G-E-R behind their backs.

    These christians use abortion to divide and conquer minorities within their own race, and no one can tell me these christians give a F about Black or any other minority baby.

    These christians know a fatherless child is a financial drain on family and society, which in a matter of speaking kills 2 birds with one stone.

    Minorities barely surviving in poverty have had little to no chance of opportunity without the U.S. Constitution, which in fact was never intended to benefit a single slave.

    No doubt the reason these christians hate the U.S. government is because the law of the land afforded Blacks human rights; thank god, thank god almighty for allowing these christians to be so humane.


    The cycle of poverty can be like the cycle of abuse. Sometimes an abusive child grows up to become an abusive parent, even though they told themselves they wouldn't. Who are we to judge someone's personal responsibility! Diane D. said blame the parent for the child. That's ignorant. You would have to blame the Grandparent, or the Great-Grandparent if you fly with that logic. Nuts!
    That's real presumptuous Mrs. Diane D. We need to wake parents, and everyone up! We need to brake our cycles of poverty, just like abuse. This isn't a discussion about lack of personal responsibility!
    If you thought it was, then I could use your logic and say, "your mother wasn't responsible, she didn't teach you ethics, and empathy."
    Diane D, you need to wake that cold, dark, heart up girl.
    Blakeab KCMO

    I recognize you. You're those kids from grammar school that no one could stand because you whined constantly resulting in dumbed down schools. Homework? Waa, I can't do homework, somebody has to do it for me. Study? that too hard.

    Real "social justice" is YOU teaching your children to do their own homework, YOU teaching your children NOT to have babies until they are married, established, responsible adults. YOU teaching your children to work really hard, stay out of trouble, make your own way, STOP expecting everything to be given to you, then and only then will you be rewarded with love and happiness.

    Why is "personal responsibility" never utter by whiners? Whiners are never winners.

    Margaret Sanger and George Bernard Shaw believed stupid people don't deserve to live because they are a burden even to themselves.
    God, I hate thinking they were right.

    Had the African Americans been the majority in America, as your guests imply, the racial matters would have improved like night and day because the underlying accusations from both is how the whites have structurally and systematically segregated the blacks. Right? Not so fast.

    An Asian, I have taught at HBCU’s (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) for more than a decade, which is governed by black majority and black Presidents whose dictatorship echoes the likes of Idi Amin and Mugabee. (During their job interviews, every one of them talks about shared-governance and teamwork based on democracy, ironically!) One would think that the American history has taught the blacks something; if they have, history would not repeat itself, would it? The vast majority of students don’t even show up after receiving their financial aids checks from the government, bilking tax-payers money with this pretense of getting 5th grade education in college. They always blame something: the society, the race, and the injustice of it all.

    When it comes to “racial discrimination,” this 12% of the population cries foul the loudest—only wanting to share the slice of the pie with least labor and efforts from themselves, for it is their Martin-given entitlement. Why don’t we pay these hard-working, intelligent, and diligent people a restitution, for their ancestors many generations ago have built America?

    Please reconsider retirement. There is no programming left on tv to watch with PBS moving to scrap NOW as well as Moyers Journal. Would you please consider getting an internet website? Even with all the proper outdoor antenna and booster equipment the TV signal reception has deteriorated remarkably and is rapidly becoming a dinosaur anyway with the advent of HDTV. The only channels I can expect to get at this point are NBC and FOX, neither of whom are any closer to my house than ABC or CBS which I used to have.

    Please set up a website and continue to broadcast on the internet which is not dependent on the HDTV signal. You might invite NOW and any other like minded programming in an effort to share expenses. I would contribute to that. After seeing that they plan to replace you with "Need to Know" (a title that, to me, says information will be severely limited to that which is considered "suitable" for us little folk) PBS won't be seeing any money from me.

    Well indeed... the old/new so called Christian majority do seem to flip flop around to whatever convenience they fancy at the moment doesn't it? Whatever happened to the separation of church and state? Now we are required to go tow the Tea Party line.. or we all go to hell?

    The dumbing of America seems to be the watchword of the times and the Right has gone into the inflammatory rhetoric business to the exclusion of discussion... or let's be frank...even 'facts' or thought.

    Bryan Stevenson and Michelle Alexander,

    Pulling the punches.

    Why didn’t you say, “a war of attrition has been waged on Blacks since the first day of slavery in the USA by god fearing church going christians”.

    Why didn’t you say, “it was god fearing church going christians in the USA that whipped jesus into Kunta Kinte”.

    Why didn’t you ask, “why did Blacks have to use U.S. Constitution to gain human equality from god fearing church going christians in the USA.”

    Why didn’t you say, “it’s the same 221 year old un-written policy in the USA by god fearing church going christians to control Blacks”.

    Why didn’t you say, “to this day minorities in the USA especially Native Americans are treated as less than human by god fearing church going christians.”

    Dear Mr. Bill Moyer,

    You will be missed dearly and I see no one in the horizon that even comes remotely close to having their heart in the right place, as do you. When I first saw your PBS American Experience story in 1981 or 1982 about the death squads in Nicaragua and El Salvador I said to myself this guy is going to get killed by the reagan administration.

    For those of you that might read this, while ABC’s 20/20 Geraldo Rivera and CBS’s 60 Minutes Harry Reasoner were making a mockery of the executions in Central America Bill Moyer gave us the nothing but facts; was there any doubt, hell no!

    Thank you Bill

    April 3, 2010, 2:31 am by BWB isn't bad.

    Bill, as always you have again reached out and nudged our thoughts. My belief, regarding this very important topic is that our educational system lacks the very positive concept necessary for universal success in coming to grips with inequality. Our present educational system is based upon percen tages, so many will pass and so many will fail. W e must strikle the term `failure` from the books and reach out to everyone. If there is failure it is the system that fails. Every student in a classroom must be challenged not in competition with others but only with the student involved. Our emphasis must be not on prosons but in an educational system that reaches out to everyone.

    The April 3, 2010, 12:20 pm posting by James is interesting.

    Excellent show. If the show is ending soon, it's going out on a high note. It's difficult for a viewer to know for sure how someone like Bryan Stevenson votes. Both guests raise honest issues. Viewers may disagree over policy responses, but it's difficult to ignore the questions.

    If one defines unions/associations broadly, civil rights battles can basically be seen as union conflicts; one group wants to limit access to protect benefits. There are also economic interpretations of the Civil War. The "identity politics" approach is to basically establish more unions to address inequality. It can help, but there are also limitations. Even in union heydays, only a minor fraction of the population was unionized. Many segments of the population (e.g., those on a fixed income) may have been worse off as they faced higher prices due to rising labor costs. Historically, unions like the AFL opposed (along with the AMA) government health care efforts (under FDR and earlier administrations), since having the government provide benefits would lessen the motivation for workers to unionize. In the aftermath of World War II (when most economic rivals were destoyed, the U.S. was still the Saudi Arabia of oil, comprehensive financial regulations were in place, etc.), it may be simplistic to give all the credit for lower Gini coefficients to unionization. People sometimes change the subject from income distributions to asset disparities. Anyone who has ever done union organizing has probably learned very quickly that the sales pitch is about money, rarely morality. When it comes to unions, there can often be hagiography.

    Exceptions aside, lawyers tend to be English majors and make rhetorical arguments, while economists are more mathematically inclined (whether or not this is a good thing can be debated) and less likely to abuse statistics. Stevenson may be one of the few lawyers who actually read THE ELEMENTS, but he's right to warn about complexities. Economists have models (which have assumptions that could perhaps be questioned) that can assume the existence of individuals with zero discrimination -- and yet still produce communities with local fluctuations/segregations that resemble discrimination. It may not be possible to ever get rid of inequalities in society.

    One may want there to be some discrimination (based on some measure of "merit").
    If one loses the idea of a talented tenth or what not, and focuses instead on integrating the mediocre middle, one may have a broader coalition, but one may also be rewarding people who are cognitively constrained. Borrowing from the Cornell psycology paper "Unskilled and Unaware" (available for free on the internet), those who are exceptional at being mediocre may have inflated self-perceptions and feel entitled to larger sums of money as circular validations of their worth. Diligent people may be worth five or ten younger, less perseverant people -- but it's hard to believe that anyone is worth ~350 other human beings. Having a more "universalist" approach might lead to more of a "union busting" path: instead of of forming more identity groups, one might devote resources to dismantling established interest groups (not based on merit), even if this may be more politically difficult.

    Dear Mr. Bill Moyers:

    I just LOVE your show and believe that it is still not to late; there is still time to change your mind, to continue with your wonderful show!!! Please stay on!!!! T.V. viewers NEED you and your program!!! It is the ONLY program which offers such an honest, very balanced, heart to heart, in-depth review of social, economic, political and artistic current events!

    Last night's program was magnificent in that it delved into the heart and the crux of the structural inequality that exists in our country since the founding of it!

    Being born 'white' to a 1st generation American and to an immigrant parent, having traveled and lived in Europe, having attended two all black schools in the deep south, I have very often asked myself this question: is acting with prejudice as in classism, racism, sexism, etc. forever intrinsic and indelible within our human consciousness and nature or will time and evolution propel us to greater psycho-social traits, to a new and better dimension where by all societies evolve into equality, where no one group, sex, color, religion, class or people-whether majority or minority-will take out its fears, agressions, pains, ill-fortunes on another??

    The plight of the African American is so complex involving psycho-social, political, economic, historical and maybe even karmaic (sort of like what one sows, one reaps)aspects. I see an America that on the one hand, spews out the capitalistic, christian, puritanical, fend for yourself culture and asks everyone to conform to it-immigrants alike- and on the other hand, this country has great tolerance and encourages individuality, uniqueness, independence, growth, types of ideals. Perhaps, many African Americans are caught between these two paradigms: they didn't choose to be here and now that they are here, perhaps psychologically there is a part of the psyche that understandably rebels the dominant culture. There is understandable rage and anger. They were sold into slavery to the Europeans by their own people from their previous homeland. To me, this would cause a natural and understandable reaction of not feeling wanted, worthwile, of being uncounted, homeless, rejected. This for sure, could go on for centuries, especially given that the Americans, for centuries have been horrid, despicable, murderers and sick in their actions from slavery, through Jim Crowe laws to our present day structural inequality! I feel if the majority ever issues a public plea, African Americans may find it easier to overcome the natural alienation that anyone would feel having gone through this perpetual ordeal. This plea should not only be in words but in actions, such as giving respect, honor, love, as in money as in programs, as in assurance that they matter, that they are extremely important and vital to this country as inhalation is vital to the continuation of life!!! It is they who have built our transportation, agriculture, construction industries, it is they who have made our country unique in culture, art, dance, music, it is they who have brought the initial diversity to our waters, it is they who have carried the weight of our wars, our economy, our bigotry, our inequality on their very backs. We, the majority, have an obligation, a debt to African Americans and it starts with showing extreme gratitude, deference, loyalty and by making economic and social policy that addresses their real needs, hopes and dreams so that we can help them rise to a mountain top where all humans belong! Americans owe our fellow African-Americans at least that!

    Thank you Bill Moyers, for all your years of great work!!



    It is frustrating to hear well meaning people like Michelle Alexander call for a national movement of poor and working class people without mentioning the devastating blow that intellectuals and leaders similar to her have made to ACORN, the only existing movement of that kind. This happens so often and to see it happen with Bill Moyers only goes to show that even though they may become intimate with segments of the population that they are discussing they refuse to see the value and potential that existed with ACORN even though they were located in just about every community of need in the US.

    As qualified (intelligent, educated, informed and eloquent) as Bill Moyers and his guests, Michelle Alexander and Bryan Stevenson, were to discuss racial disparity and the disporportionate number of blacks in American prisons on the Journal last night, in my senior working-class white American male opinion they still failed (as expected) to address the underlying cause of the problem. About the civil rights movement, back then, I was mostly just a fatherless barefoot young bystander with holes in my jeans, long before it became fashionable, wondering in the midwestern summer sun what all the fuss was about.

    Looking back, I find I was born of academic superiority and physical and financial inferiority. I was educated in public schools with outstanding teachers, or ordinary teachers in outstanding circumstances, and required to learn the U.S. Constitution (twice) before graduating high school. Regardless, unlike many students merely learning to pass standardized tests, these days, I learned to 'think.' And, to a fault some might say, think; I do. Thinking very analytically and outside-the-establishment-box, as I naturally tend to now, is also the basis of my making similar comments about Gretchen Morgenson's perspectives on economics and Wall Street on the Journal last week. Now, after writing to many others in positions of authority and/or influence of this for some five years, this is the first time I am stating it this way: the problem is so deeply rooted in nature, human nature, history, tradition and education it is sub-systemic. And, that is where the problem must be addressed, like killing or pulling the root of an ugly weed 'to form a more perfect garden,' so to speak, for all the flowers of the rightful American varieties to have a chance to bloom to their full potential, regardless of their age, gender, race and/or soil.

    As I personally thought toward the end of the civil rights movement in the sixties, 'why not just enforce the existing provisions of the Constitution as if minorities are rightful citizens, too; why legislate, redundantly?' Today, different symptoms (for sure) but it is the same old problem, which would resolve completely with the right solution: enforce the 'supreme Law of the Land' equitably on behalf of all rightful Americans, not only on behalf of a small elitist minority of money, power and war mongering 'bleedership.' For a start, this November, don't blame Republicans; don't blame Democrats; blame both; vote 'other.' Due to long term over-fertilization there are some very 'green,' very deeply rooted, weeds in both the House and the Senate, that are long overdue for pulling. Let the U.S. Constitution and reason prevail, and 'we shall' all 'overcome.'

    The permanent underclass is victim only to their morally bankrupt culture that gets an affirmation from the elite managers of the plantation in Jesse and Al who spoon feed the notion that they are not responsible for their plight. That dropping out of school, having children out of wedlock with multiple partners, that working for a paycheck is a fools game when all you have to do is steal something or stick a gun in someones stomach and take their wallet. It is so painfully obvious that the so called war on poverty has created a parallel society of chronic wealth takers at the expense of the wealth creators. More entitlement programs are morally wrong. Bill Cosby had the guts to tell it like it is and look at the reception he got. Disgraceful.

    What a splendid, splendid program! I had just returned from a Good Friday service where Luke's description of Jesus' betrayal, arrest, imprisonment, torture and execution was read. The sermon powerfully pointed out that the scripture makes clear that Jesus was not killed by a 'bad person' -- rather it was ordinary 'good' people who were pillars of society -- acting as 'law & order' officers of law enforcement, distinguished clergy, bureaucrats, officials, democratically voting people. As I drove home, I thought how essentially unChristian incarceration, capital punishment, torture are -- that the central story of Christian scriptures powerfully shows their deep sin. I then listened to this amazing discussion & wept. I remembered Luke 19:41 as Jesus looked over Jerusalem & wept. So, we should weep as we look over the prison/industrial/military complex which has engulfed our democracy as surely as Rome conquered. All religions have important religious insights -- but Christianity is particularly clear about the evils of incarceration & capital punishment! Moyers conversation with Alexander & Stevenson was an important, devastating & necessary critique of the US. As a middle aged white woman, I say it is urgent to return (as Alexander said) to where Rev Martin Luther King Jr left off...

    In your view, what would constitute a just society? What measures could move the country in that direction?

    I agree with DC Eddy...the only race that matters is the human race. Trying to stamp out racism through preferential models only creates more preference.

    All children, and their parents, should be taught that preference, no matter where it is practiced, no matter whether it is overt or subconsciously expressed is terribly damaging both to the one(s) who are favored and the one(s) who are then, by default, not favored. It is all education. And we know that without an educated middle class, democracy dies.

    The favored view that "you only have one life, so you should get everything you can" is also at fault. Most of the world's population live according to the law of rebirth. They know that this life is only one in a long, long series of lives and that each life is the result of one's actions and thoughts from previous lives. They know that each of us has been white, black, brown, and yellow in past lives. They know that justice lies in the law of cause and effect...that you will reap what you sow and it does not matter whether you confess your sins or take Jesus as your personal savior on your deathbed or not. The die is cast. You've made your bed.

    The real problems of the world lie in the fact that the so called developed world wastes 3/4 of the world's food while 3/4 of the world's population is starving and millions die every year. The real problems are that we are polluting our home so badly that we all face painful or not. The real problems are that we cannot seem to even consider life without war, without hatred, greed and fear. We are appalled by these pathologies, yet we allow them to continue because those with the most to gain promote them and we continue to be silent. Racism is bad, yes it is. And it brings really bad karma. But in the grand scheme of things, we all have to grow up and figure out how we are going to survive the next 15 years. We have a big choice to make.

    M.O. Barack, wake up! Bo is making a hell of a fuss. There may be a burglar at the door.

    B.O. No, no Michelle, it’s just a poor hungry unemployed fellow looking for a handout. Go back to sleep, the neighbors will take care of him.

    M.O. Yes, dear, you’re right. Let’s get some rest. Good night.

    B.O. ZZZzzzzz-----

    Mr. Moyers,

    I was so moved by your program last night and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it and the implications of your closing remarks. They resonnated with me on many, many levels and I can no longer do nothing. I'm not sure what my role will be in this, but the first thing I'm doing is telling anyone who will listen what I learned last night. I am a white, middle class, middle-aged woman, but I know an un-level playing field when I see one. Perhaps it's because I have a child with special needs and as a previous poster said, we have a long way to go in the way we think and treat citizens with disabilities. As was said on your program, a society can and should be judged by how it treats the weakest and most vulnerable members. We have a lot of work to do.

    Great program Bill, really moving for me. I did not sleep very well last night, the show just kept tugging on my mind. I never really saw things in this way. Thank you and thanks to your guests.

    I think the founding fathers and all involved in the original United states constitution and the declaration of independents would be shocked How bad the corruption has become. "At What price is anything goes, worth money lies and corruption to others ? ( Political self interest and gain, is becoming new age crime in all countries )

    what most whites are not hearing is that blacks charged are given 100x the sentence of whites. crack is given 100years while concaine given 1-5 years. blacks lost their right to vote FOREVER while white regain them

    "In your view, what would constitute a just society? What measures could move the country in that direction?"

    To start with...
    Black is the absence of color. The color white is the presence of all colors. The only truly white person is an albino.
    It is imperative that everyone be included in the human equation. We are all interactive in the human formula. If someone sneezes in Africa; someone in America catches a cold.
    Reality is a functional system of organization that networks in all directions at the same time. Ignoring reality is a fatal disease. Earth has become a unified system of cause and effect.
    That said; NOW we need to construct a functional system of social organization that is functional and meets everyone's needs. Again; it is necessary that social organization work in all directions simultaneously and continuously. We exist in a dynamic evolution.
    People have to establish a master set of values and priorities to deal with human interaction. Then they need to apply justice, equity, wisdom, courage, temperance, compassion and efficient organization to the world society.
    Survival of the fittest, greed, conflict and war will end our history if we do not respond to our current threat properly. It is a matter of survival of the species "HUMAN KIND".

    Dear Mr. Moyers:

    Thank you, Mr. Stevenson and Ms. Alexander for a superb conversation. This is the type of conversation that needs to occur in every house, community and all parts of our nation so we as an American people may be made whole.

    I wanted to jump into my TV and ring Michelle Alexander's pretty neck. Her contention that white America is responsible for the situation of the black under class infuriates me. If there are lots of blacks in prison for drug deals they deserve it. IMHO drug dealing should be a capital offense as it is in China. That would reduce our prison population and better focus our youth, black and white, on the merits of honest work.

    There are several comments above which reference the institution of slavery, with the implication that it was a great evil of the white man done to the black man. While I am in no way defending this institution, it is interesting to note the following:

    1) Slavery had been commonplace in Africa for centuries before the first Whites ever came to America. Black Africans held other Black Africans as their slaves.

    2) Some groups of Black Africans captured other Black Africans and sold the captives to American slave traders,

    3) Very rarely, free Blacks in America held other Blacks in slavery, and

    4) The Constitution of the Confederate States of America actually banned the importation of more slaves.

    Slavery was a very complicated issue, much more complicated than "a great evil of the white man done to the black man."

    Additionally, the American Civil War was not fought over issues of slavery or anything else related to human rights. The causes of the conflict were economic. It was only after England and France were ready to enter the War on the side of the South that Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation and declared the war to be about a moral issue. With public opinion shifted in favor of the North, England and France remained neutral.

    And one note about the Emancipation Proclamation: it freed the slaves only in states in rebellion against the Union. I assume that Lincoln did not want to risk antagonizing border states which were not in rebellion but in which slavery was still established.

    Has anyone ever heard Obama use the word "poor" in a public utterance? He rants on about the need to strengthen the middle class, but the poor? Apparently for him they don't exist. Obama is in over his head, he's supremely clueless. As for the celebrated "Drug War," neither he nor Jolly Joe are likely to push for legalization of drugs - not even for decriminalization. And we thought he was our great white hope.

    The road to true freedom has a huge, gaping pothole. Could our founding father Ben Franklin, who said we should make the poor more uncomfortable in their poverty, have imagined 40 million of them! How uncomfortable should we make them? How long will our vehicle sustain the jarring effects of running over this pothole before it starts falling apart?

    Busch said we have to abandon the free market to save the free market. Do we now say we have to abandon capitalism to save capitalism? Do we adopt a marxist philosophy to repair the pothole that capitalism created? If so, I think it reasonable for opponents to become unhinged and paranoid regarding the degree to which this transformation might take. However, meaningful dialog should provide reassurance that we are fixing societal pothole and that the rising gap between rich and poor should have been and should be a road sign that there is a pothole ahead.

    Regarding the issue of racism, it is imperative that we know the facts. Could our founding fathers have imagined we would discover that the roots of our humanity are black. 70 million years ago in east africa, we find adam and eve, and they are black! It is time we invest in our humanity towards a more perfect union.

    Dear Mr. Moyers,

    Must your show end? You are the only big TV journalist/voice of reason, truth and justice for all. You will leave a huge void in our otherwise horrible corporate mass media. Bravo on another amazing show with such eloquent, intelligent guests reminding us that we still have a lot of work to do as a nation to fulfill the American dream for all citizens. Your alarming stats at the end summed up the new/old story of the greedy haves and the apathetic have-nots. We are sliding backwards in time to a type of modern Feudalism. We are all the serfs/slaves working for the 1000 billionaires in the world, half of which are here in the USA. The new revolution, and I hope it is peaceful, will not be about the color black or brown, it will be about the almighty green. I feel folks need to be more empathetic. Imagine if your ancestors were slaves for over 300 years and then second class citizens all the time after being freed. Also consider the psychological damage 300 plus years of mental and physical abuse and breaking up of families will do to a people. The fact that American blacks have done as well as they have and the majority of them who understand on an intimate level the stories of Moses and Jesus better then most privileged whites is a testament to their super inner strength of character as a spiritual people. White people need to try to walk in black peoples shoes so we can relate on a deeper level so as to heal these deep wounds inflicted on black peoples souls. Unfortunately it usually takes longer for a wound of any type to heal then the amount of time it took to cause it. So we all must be diligent and work hard at rectifying these injustices wherever they exist in our society. I beg all all Christians to dig into your souls and be more empathetic to the continuing plight of people of color here in America where we are all supposed to be 'created equal' in the eyes of God according to our constitution and to every major religion. Thank you Bill Moyers, You will be deeply missed. God Bless America and the world.

    These days the term, "Felon," is continuing to be attached to an out-dated law that has impacted our vibrant young black men and their families; yet, this time that designation is primarily based on pot possession, (personal use). The same thing that many of our own Presidents, Senator's, and Representatives have tried and smoked themselves at sometime in their lives. Bill Moyer’s, Bryan Stevenson and Michelle Alexander discussed that our President could do something to insert justice and reason into this situation and his race was mentioned as an excuse for his lack of involvement. Yet, “If not you, who? If not now, when?” This would be a gift and blessing for millions upon millions of our citizens.

    We have already established that we are the generation that is focused on change and reclaiming an America that protects and benefits the lives of all citizens. To write an executive order that pardons all the men and women that have been incarcerated and received the title of felon for pot possession, would be a gift and blessing that would re-establish freedom and hope for millions of our American families. Also, this would increase the morale, up-lift the spirits and re-energize our people and communities.

    At $45,000 a year, it becomes obvious that providing resources for education, instead of incarceration would reduce our deficit and promote the advancement of American Business. Pell Grants and Student jobs would encourage our young men and women to see that a brighter future is possible and motivate them to start reaching for their goals, develop their talents, and begin building a foundation to obtain their dreams. This gives our nation a solid workforce and the ability to rebound; while restoring and honoring the lives of our young men and women.


    Also, there is a National Memorial being built for Martin Luther King, Jr., if you would like to become involved in this project, please contact or write, National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc, P.O. Box: 96071, Washington, D.C. 20077.

    What an educational program, again, and again...
    Bill, you are cleaning the truth of dust. Your
    humanitarian bent and intellect are working in unison,
    serving the public like nobody else in this land
    of prostituted outcomes.

    You are the beacon of real patriotism, which became
    so completely abandoned by the ruling elites and
    the political system itself.

    I am always afraid that the powerful forces of darkness
    may silence you or even that PBS can be privatized,
    and eventually dismantled.
    I am concerned, but I am not paranoid, yet.

    The persons selected for your program were revealing
    the social complexities which are not always so obvious
    to many of us. It was enlightening and ... frightening.

    The oxymoron - “war on drugs” and the other one
    “war on terror”- , even if developed from the real ills
    or a tragic/barbaric event, through “social engineering”
    process, were used by the ruling elites to control and
    oppress the society in this land of conspicuously free.

    The war on drugs took off labour market a huge number
    of black men, and through unjust “justice” system - too
    generous in a preposterous way, from a productive life,
    forever. This is a serious systemic crime. Hope it will be
    repaired soon.

    The war on terror, among many horrible effects,
    allowed the Wall Street to instil the real “economic
    terror” on all of us. This is a crime, as well.

    The political system reached the level of decomposition
    which could have not passed the smell test, if one decided
    to test....

    So, where is our Republic heading? I’ve lost my compass...
    What about you?

    Rolland Norman

    The program, at the end, left me crying with a terrible feeling of powerlessness vis-a vis the injustice we have and continue to suffer.

    I am terribly disappointed at the political system today: mostly Obama and the Democrats.

    I am terribly disappointed that soon I won't be able to see Bill Moyers. For me, Friday nights are almost religious: staying at home to watch the program.

    I cannot accept this situation. Mr. Moyers: I hope you will not leave us empty handed. You need to do something with all the knowledge and information you have, with all your contacts --the people in your shows-, with your values, and mostly your integrity. Please start a progressive movement based on continuing to spread the truth; based on fighting for justice to reverse the growing inequalities. You and your friends and colleagues can lead it, and we will follow. We have to do something, please continue the fight.

    Ms. Alexander was dead on about our society/governments making a large number of people second class citizens by creating a whole class of Felons.

    I find it interesting that they kept mentioning these folks could no longer vote but not once did they mention that they could no longer own a gun either. I firmly believe that this was part of the plan too. Not only to take away poorer peoples 1st amendment rights but also their 2nd too. I know that this does not bode well with Mr. Moyers and many of his 'followers' views , but a few of us liberals still believe the 2nd amendment is just as important as the 1st.

    Moyers and his learned guests paint a grim picture of income inequality in America. For the last 30 years, says Moyers, "the incomes of people at the top have doubled while those in the middle and at the bottom have remained flat."

    Now the good news: Moyers is almost certainly wrong.

    A simple chart of historical incomes, compiled by the US Census Bureau, shows rising levels of wealth in all segments of American society:

    Yes, the rich are getting richer. But the poor are also getting richer. And so are the middle class. Indeed for the last forty years, a rising tide has lifted all boats.

    These economic figures underscore the rise of the black middle class - a phenomenon that was conspicuously unmentioned during this episode. Yet isn't that something that Martin Luther King would've celebrated?

    I agree that much more needs to be done with reducing racial profiling and eliminating all the other subtle forms of racism and achieve TRUE equality for African-Americans ("AAs") and other minorities, but it's also a two way street, that AAs need to acknowledge, admit to, and help with.

    I'm one of those poorer whites, and I've lived in the multi-ethnic (including AA) part of Portland Oregon for most of my life. And yes, I've had and have black friends, and even black roommates, and am right in the middle of all this ethnic activity, and thus have seen first hand what's going on.

    Far too many (but not all) Blacks have unfortunately been helping racist conservatives further their outdated attitudes by acting poorly to begin with.

    Unfortunately, there IS an underlying attitude by many blacks to "get back at whites" for past horrors at every opportunity by misbehaving with many clearly criminal activities, then pretending that they didn't do anything wrong when they get caught, lying thru their teeth and/or playing the "race card" to try and get out of trouble.

    Yes, this kind of thing IS happening. A lot! And it's not just a reflection of some "racist attitude" on my part.

    These "crime games" that are being played by SOME blacks just furthers already entrenched conservative racist attitudes. "See, what did I tell you about blacks?!" Etc. Etc.

    Blacks ask for more (deserved) respect from whites, but then "diss" each other continuously, calling each other some variation of the dreaded "N-word" in their art, music, and literature, with still so many whites not knowing the special significance of the letter "A" in modern black culture, and thus hearing no difference between the version of the N-word with an "A" suffix, and the traditional racist "ER" suffix version.

    So again I hear from conservatives, "How can blacks expect to get respect from whites, when they don't even respect each other?"

    As a result of all this, the big question is: How much can we expect that each AA person should be constantly aware that (s)he is "representing" the AA race and culture at ALL times, and how much should that awareness modify each black person's behavior on a practical day-to-day basis, for the overall benefit of everyone in the long term?

    It seems to me that this whole racial issue is a two way street, requiring BOTH sides to change their over-all attitudes and behavior.

    Until both sides admit that they need to change themselves and meet half way, and stop pretending that both sides don't have a problem with the need to improve race relations, then no REAL progress can or will be made in the long run, as your esteemed guests so elegantly and eloquently pointed out on your show.

    Until some kind of CREDIBLE united front between blacks and whites is created along these lines, those most powerful conservatives who run most of big business America will still feel justified in pulling each and every "dirty tricks" (* see below) that they can think of to keep EVERYONE down to a near-slave level.

    (* "Dirty trick" example: Blacks (and women) wanted equal pay, and so big business simply slowly let's inflation drive wages for poorer whites slide down to black wage levels, instead of raising black wages to white levels. Now instead of more of us being better off, more of us are worse off, but now closer to being "equal" in our poverty.)

    If, as your show pointed out, 2/3rds of those people in prisons are ethnic (which includes blacks AND hispanics AND Asians), then a full 1/3 is white, which means that there's a trend to abuse poor whites just as much as any other ethnic groups.

    Which means there's a bigger picture happening here than just the traditional "black verses white".

    It's now become "rich verses poor".

    But as long as modern civil rights spokespeople (and Moyers, and PBS, etc.) keep focusing on ONLY the black-white issue, the bigger problem that's now holding down the civil rights of ALL of us will not be properly addressed,

    If ever there was a time needed for unity between ALL of us against those rich few who are keeping the vast majority of us in virtual slavery, it is now!

    As long as they're able to manipulate the attitudes of any of us against the rest of us, they and their bigger problem won't be addressed and thus will continue.

    Just thot I'd add my perspective from "the hood" in Portland , Oregon.

    Dear Mr. Moyers,

    This Holy Week has given me thoughtful moral lessons. On the pitiful side, I saw the Catholic Church, which provided my elementary education, unable to step off its throne, kneel down and ask formerly abused children for forgiveness. I have left that stale institution but still feel strongly for the ethnic communities that have founded their life around the church. But how can reform begin in the hands of the isolated and powerful?

    More uplifting but equally tragic was hearing a rebroadcast of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Beyond Vietnam speech on Alternative Radio. In the hindsight of two generations, King perfectly described the historical, legal, moral, pragmatic and prophetic truths that so few in this country could accept at that time. Equally shocking was how true the words were in our current conflicts: corrupt governments supported by strong interests and our government, our puppets unwilling to confront the core issues and our military focusing on fighting armed insurgents where Americans are blind and cultural clueless. We have even nicer euphemisms for the tragedies of the war, but the outcome seems likely to be the same.

    Your excellent program on the Journal this evening, Toward a More Just Society, was equally thought provoking. Your guests clearly explained the path this country has taken toward a new de-facto underclass for many poor and minorities. And with the same historical, moral and practical insight as Kings speech, they illustrated how bad this policy is. I used to feel some moral superiority over the Bosnian massacres, until I realized how closely this parallels the Klan, Jim Crow, and various legal devices to subject minorities that are still ongoing. I am progressively sickened how effectively Wallace-Nixon-Reagan politics have been the electoral core of the GOP for over 40 years, which monopolizes the commercial media and reigns in any enlightened agenda. I remember what I now see as an orchestrated media frenzy that began with the death of two young athletes and “naturally lead” us to formulate our unjustly punitive prison terms and expansion of three strikes laws to drugs. Your program’s presentation and presidential sidebars showed the deft shepherding of the issue by those in power. Today prisons have robbed states of the funds that formerly were invested in education. It seems hopeless that our right wing rabid macho mainstream media will let an enlightened fresh approach bloom. I hope your Journal and the preceding Now story on effective reform programs in prison can take root.

    After describing how poor whites are also caught in the same senseless mess, the show’s encore was the historical perspective that you gave in summary of the decline that affects the majority of Americans. My whole working career has been the years of financial decline. The same imperatives are presented by the media before policies are crafted: tax cuts for only the wealthy, competitiveness, globalism, right sizing, saving our economy and avoiding socialism. I think this is only possible because there is no legitimate debate on these issues once right wing boundaries are defined by the media. Your show is the only exception to intellectual starvation of our democracy on television. Please keep it going, this country needs the light.

    Rev. Moyers, you are still doing God’s work. Happy Easter.

    I completely agree with these 2 fine lawyers.

    After having worked for a number of years in a juvenile facility in the early '80s, I firmly came to the conclusion that being poor and coming from a bad neighborhood was a crime.

    In my opinion 80% of those boys should have never been there, that basically all they really needed was; 3 squares a day, a way out of the jungle and one person in their lives who cared about them. With those 3 things they could have made it out and into a bigger world.

    What I saw instead was the endless building of more and more new prisons, ridiculous sentences for non violent crimes, punishing guards, lack of interest by staff of understanding the dynamics of the boys or their backgrounds and paroling boys back into the same family structure (or lack of) and back to their former neighborhoods.

    Having watched boys sabotage their own releases, because their fear of going home was greater than being in jail and seeing them back again within 6 mos or worse.. on to an adult prison.

    At that time the cost of a young inmate was around $36k/yr and I thought how much their lives could have been changed if that money had been spent on 'them' instead of the prison time... or at least the choice of return to the hood or a supportive halfway house.

    I was aware all those years ago of the criminalization of poverty... the turn in attitude of law inforcement towards the black and poor which was so much different than when I was growing up.. where police were part of the community and realized that kids did stupid things and that not ALL kids were criminals because they did those stupid things.

    When did the switch occur? When did we become less human and more fascist? When did it become 'them' and 'us'? When did we start using the law as a weapon and not a tool?

    It does seem indicative of a complete change in the moral and ethical personality of a nation in the last 30 years, that we have become sadly more cold and separatist than embracing with intelligence the Big Picture.. that there is no effect without cause. Little criminals are not born, they are made, and the police attitude and the prison system has made them more sad, bitter and angry than any young person that you want to be a functioning member of society should have to endure. We have created who they are and we've done quite a good job of it.

    I realize that the situation is far more complex than the words I've spoken here. But this is from the heart of a white 60 year old woman, mother and grandmother... who has always looked at the bigger picture and I wish every American could listen to this interview with an open mind and know it to be true.

    We are living in country divided in a way that I have never seen before, I have seen more 'Christians' without a conscience and more liberals without a backbone than ever before... and frankly it's scary. I had and still do have such hopes in Obama, because I feel him a just and true man... but Washington is a hood too, filled with cutthroat professional politicians and the greedy, with very little to do with the average American Joe unfortunately they rarely seem to get their just deserts.

    A very good morning to you Mr. Moyers,

    Just last month, I had the privilege to watch Ms/Mrs.Alexander for the very first time on "Democracy Now" with Amy Goodman and I thought she presented the case of our fellow citizens beautifully in respect to the inequality of the races in America. Because when you think about it and understand the symbolic statue of justice in America it's actually a blind folded woman with an unbalance scale in one hand and some other symbolic tools, but I mention this to ask Ms. Alexander does she think that this symbol have a great impact on how many in the USA and now around the world sees and practice justice alongside their laws. The President said in his speech at the NAACP celebration that their's no excuse for failure in-spite of societal circumstances and that every human being have will power especially when given the facts on how and where our ancestors paved the way for us witch was manifested through much harsher tribulations and injustices,and that todays justice only convicts when proven guilty so there fore a person that have been found guilty under set rules of laws created by fellow citizens,can not and will not be justified by personal reasons of actions(unless mentally impaired) nor by lack of knowledge of ones personal and social responsibilities in any given society. I pray that the enlightened readers who will be reading my comment, finds the common sense in it. I just realized It's three in the morning, GOOD MORNING FAMILY!!and good night

    Dear Mr. Moyers,

    This Holy Week has given me thoughtful moral lessons. On the pitiful side, I saw the Catholic Church, which provided my elementary education, unable to step off its throne, kneel down and ask formerly abused children for forgiveness. I have left that stale institution but still feel strongly for the ethnic communities that have founded their life around the church. But how can reform begin in the hands of the isolated and powerful?

    More uplifting but equally tragic was hearing a rebroadcast of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s Beyond Vietnam speech on Alternative Radio. In the hindsight of two generations, King perfectly described the historical, legal, moral, pragmatic and prophetic truths that so few in this country could accept at that time. Equally shocking was how true the words were in our current conflicts: corrupt governments supported by strong interests and our government, our puppets unwilling to confront the core issues and our military focusing on fighting armed insurgents where Americans are blind and cultural clueless. We have even nicer euphemisms for the tragedies of the war, but the outcome seems likely to be the same.

    Your excellent program on the Journal this evening, Toward a More Just Society, was equally thought provoking. Your guests clearly explained the path this country has taken toward a new de-facto underclass for many poor and minorities. And with the same historical, moral and practical insight as Kings speech, they illustrated how bad this policy is. I used to feel some moral superiority over the Bosnian massacres, until I realized how closely this parallels the Klan, Jim Crow, and various legal devices to subject minorities that are still ongoing. I am progressively sickened how effectively Wallace-Nixon-Reagan politics have been the electoral core of the GOP for over 40 years, which monopolizes the commercial media and reigns in any enlightened agenda. I remember what I now see as an orchestrated media frenzy that began with the death of two young athletes and “naturally lead” us to formulate our unjustly punitive prison terms and expansion of three strikes laws to drugs. Your program’s presentation and presidential sidebars showed the deft shepherding of the issue by those in power. Today prisons have robbed states of the funds that formerly were invested in education. It seems hopeless that our right wing rabid macho mainstream media will let an enlightened fresh approach bloom. I hope your Journal and the preceding Now story on effective reform programs in prison can take root.

    After describing how poor whites are also caught in the same senseless mess, the show’s encore was the historical perspective that you gave in summary of the decline that affects the majority of Americans. My whole working career has been the years of financial decline. The same imperatives are presented by the media before policies are crafted: tax cuts for only the wealthy, competitiveness, globalism, right sizing, saving our economy and avoiding socialism. I think this is only possible because there is no legitimate debate on these issues once right wing boundaries are defined by the media. Your show is the only exception to intellectual starvation of our democracy on television. Please keep it going, this country needs the light.

    Rev. Moyers, you are still doing God’s work. Happy Easter.

    First, will any regimen be offered for "moyers withdrawal
    syndrome" , when BMJ leaves
    the air?
    As with war profiteering, industries and career tracks
    have arisen from the "wars"
    on drugs and subsequent penal colonies.
    As in medicine, if we know the etiology, we should be able to affect a treatment.

    I've not read the "Spirit Level", but hope to do so soon. I haven't read "Slavery by another name", but hope to read it sooner, but I think both books may be addressing the same issue, but one in the past and the one now. But I feel that the one now is even more troubling. First, we have built and use privately built prisons at an enormous pace and cost. Second, we have prosecuted prosecutors and judges that have sentenced juveniles to lengthy sentences to satisfy the wishes of the managers of these prisons to keep them filled, could this possibly be the only group affected? Third, these prisons are taking in more and more industries that use slave wage prison labor that are in direct competition with "outside" companies. Taxes pay for the prisoners food and shelter and the theft of taxpayer's jobs. Fourth, the ones who write the laws to imprison the slave labor have personal investments in the corporations that they have allowed in prison industries (can we say "Conflict of Interest". Fifth, the huge expansion of prisons have created a huge influential voting bloc, namely the union of prison guards, whose wage and benefits outstrip by far the prevailing wages and benefits of local rural jobs. Sixth, like slave owners of old, the population of the prisons are counted into the census for the area for which the prison is located, but prisoners have no vote, and do not impose upon the services provided for a community whose number has been inflated, creating a rural "country club"?. Seventh, the prisoners could be jailed for offenses that worldwide would not be deemed serious enough to imprison (better workforce) (Tommy Chong). Eighth, increasingly arrests and imprisonment are for possession and use of an almost benign substance, marijuana. It has been proven that during the age of the Iran-Contra, while Nancy was extolling the use of saying "no", our government was fostering drug (cocaine and marijuana) usage to the black communities nationwide, and using the profits to finance the illegal war in Central America. Can we say they have stopped? Since our endeavors in Afghanistan, Europe is overwhelmed by the flow of cheap and powerful heroin. No you cannot blame the Taliban, who had nearly eradicated the crop, but the present corrupt regime that the US has put in place. Could imprisonment in the US be the result of eliminating the competition to our own government approved drug organization(s)? We have all witnessed the corruption that still exists in our Department of "Justice" which prosecutes crimes which do not exist (note: Don Siegelman) and refuses to prosecute those that do (the outing of Valerie Plame, vote tampering, selective drug busts, etc.). Which then takes us back to the beginning of the circle, that of the politician taking a herculean stand to be the strongest advocate of the most draconian laws against drug users? Thereby, arousing citizens to promote law enforcement of these laws and to inform on each other.
    This is a craziness that must stop. It not only affects our country but has created hells in others. In countries where drug users are treated as patients, drug use has not increased. As we victimize marijuana users, Chinese firms are creating more and more mind altering drugs that are so new and changing that laws cannot keep up with them and with deadly effects. The stress of imprisonment to the family affects the intellectual development of babies due to the stress around them, so we not only create havoc to the present generation, but to the future. We must promote a fair world to live in. We must not punish so much as to outweigh the damage of the crime. We must promote the reading of "Les Miserable" in schools. We must love one another, not just think of ways to make a buck off each other.

    Teaching in prisons for the last 12 years caused me to listen to this program carefully. I'm not convinced the warehousing is all about race. Economics, yes. Votes, yes. Race, some. But I read the files and these are files made of nightmares.

    The common denominators I have seen are:
    1. no father in the home
    2. hard drugs
    3. guns
    Most kids in the U.S. come from broken homes and are raised on violent and distorted media and games. "Garbage in, garbage out."

    I agree that the money spent on incarceration would be better spent in prevention programs of eliminating poverty. How about substantial subsidies and tax breaks for intact families? If you're not going to fix the families this isn't going to get fixed.

    ...and then my wife spoke the bigger truth. Why is the subject race when it ought to be MEN?

    These massive warehouses are filled with MEN and most of the employees are MEN. It's primarily MEN who are profiting by promoting violent "heros" that are usually MEN. See a pattern here?

    How about if ALL races began valuing and producing real MEN of integrity who are fathers to their children? We could put the prison industrial complex out of business in a couple of generations. "Where's the money in that?" you might ask. "It's going to be a tough sell."

    In the meantime, at the mall nearest you, you can get your gang attire, a gun, violent "entertainment," and illegal drugs.

    You get what you pay for...

    The same arguments about racism in our time can be applied to disability discrimination. Our unemployment rate is more than double the rate for African-Americans. And rather than being sent to prisons, people with disabilities are forced into nursing homes. On the 20th anniversary of the signing of the ADA, the dream of equality for people with disabilities is still just a dream. Why don't you talk to Paul Longmore, Carol Gill, and Bob Kafka about disability discrimination ?

    I commend the Host and the panel for allowing the truth to be told. I belive the Chicago State forum was scripted, the questions were screened so how was this forum about truth, the reality is the panel was a joke no disrespect, but first we have to admit, that there is a society pulling the strings, then before we blame President Obama we have to work on a local level, Former Ald Tillman was on the panel, why I'll never know, when she was the Ald I went to her to give her my business plan etc, she told me to get lost, Ald Troutman is in Prison so when I helped her with the clean & green program why didn't she look at my business plan, know we have a new Ald who is just as bad. Mayor Daley is incharge of the City, why didn't the panel hold him accountable, when he's laying off teachers when we need them the most, yet he's giving his entire family and friends 100's of millions in contracts, so how can I get my business plan looked at and acted apon. Jesse Jackson and his team said I wasn't a contributor, so have a nice day. The misinter wouldn't give me the time of day, and when you try to meet with him...(Forget about it), so when we talk about the poor and middle class, and we promote these so-called leaders who are black leaders, and they don't help the very same people they claim to be fighting for they should lose there right to lead. We are waisting so much time. Bill clinton and his policies crippled the Black Man, yet because he was cloaked in our culture we embrassed him, yet we demonize President Obama. Now you have to make up your own mind, but on every level of life we have to examine ourselves, and know that if we are complicit in anything that violates a fellow human beings rights were a just as guilty. The Justice system is in place to protect the wealthy, the connected. My rights were violated click oral arguments 09 1636. I am not just fighting for myself or my family but for everyone, because if my rights can be violated as a free us citizen, then yours can to. I wrote the feature film John Q Starring Denzel Washington. I took the case to the US Supreme Court, twice. The US Supreme Court are the biggest enabler's to America than any court. We blindly put our trust and faith in them, after we vote a President into office. Or in a case where
    they steal an election from the people, it was the Supreme Court who allowed that to happen. Since when do we arbituarily allow our leaders to re-write the constitution without a revolution (Non-Violent)
    I studied Law since my case was filed, and there has only been 2 times that I could find a case where the constitution was re-written without congressional approval. Bush v Gore on counting those votes and Tillman v Newline where in my case the Bush appointed judge said that the date on the (C) doesn't matter. I can tell you why the Judge said the date doesn't matter, because my copyright was issued first in 1998 the def et'al illegal copy was issued in 2000. To know how to fight a thing you must first understand it.

    #1. The prisons are built unjustly, prison's are for people that refuse to follow the law. Not to trap citizens.

    lets examine that, how you raise up a child is in most cases the way that child may go. If all things were fair then parents would have equal access to resources, they would make better decesions. We have to keep the family together. If our Black leaders who are enlightened, really wanted to change our struggles they would use their platforms for good, while at the same time we accept our responsibilities. White america won't change over night, the system won't change overnight. So here's the plan the banks who are really controlling the White house, are not making funds avalable, to the middle class and the poor. We need to have our own internal banking system within the law, here's how everyday when I drive downtown I wonder why do I keep seeing the lotto with 100 and 200 million dollor jackpots weekly a large group of people are playing right, so what happens if we all pool our resources together. Now everyone will have an opportunity to have ownership. Remember the lotto is placed right there in the heart of rush hour, so while your sitting there you can say wow! I wish I could win that and quit my job, so i'll play. The lotto is playing on our anxiety's etc. If the Lotto really went to the school's that more than enough to keep those teachers. If you actually break down the prison system, individual family's recognize those family members that need early intervention, yet the system can house them after a crime is committed. A lot of criminals never started out saying that's what they wanted to be, they will tell you when they made a wrong turn and 99% of the time it could have been prvented, with early assistance. We don't want to face the truth because that causes us to act. It wasn't easy fighting against Time Warner et'al yet we can't ignore those who are pushing their negative agenda, or else we will truly be slaves. I pray for the Supreme Courts and Districts that they will allow God to move through them, so when America is unjust they will know that they can't get away with it. God is in control, not the God that was packaged neatly as a product, I'm talking about the God that Began this world, who made the sun and the moon, and the stars and then gave us the true word. We need action, everyone has to carry their weight.Don't be fooled what the world, how crazy is it to say the President should address black issues, when first we are human beings, and us citizens, but as long as we focus on color and differences, we can get off the subject and nothing gets done. There is enough for everyone. I believe in Justice and I hope the US Supreme Court will ask God for direction.

    Excellent show, one I will remember forever. There is still so much inequality for people of color in this country, I couldn't stop crying the entire show. I have had my own racist moments and have tried to make up for them by spending 15 years of research in trying to discover the various effects of hate crimes upon minority members' psychological health and well being.

    My own past has bothered me to such an extent that I have recently sought reconciliation with an old African American boyfriend (I am Caucasian), an Ivy League educated lawyer himself now. I felt I couldn't go on without attempting to seek his forgiveness for my own past inability to fight the racism of our Texas culture and heritage. The pressures of my family and the culture around us caused me to break up with him, even though I was very much in love with him. This social pressure from my family and society, along with my very young age and immaturity, didn't allow me to feel confident enough to overcome the differences in our race and our religion. He is one of the finest men on the face of this earth and I allowed my own racism and fear to tear us apart. This is possibly the worse thing I have ever done in my life. Luckily, he is a forgiving man and we have reconciliated and have resumed a mutual friendship that has been very rewarding.

    I am buying the book tomorrow and pledge to add my name and efforts to the voices that are rising to seek justice for all people of color in this country.

    Thanks for a wonderful but very disturbing interview.

    Equality 101

    The truth of everything is less than one inch,
    It is simply equal and the lion is One.
    One is free when the door is opened,
    Education is the key.


    Jane -- you obviously haven't lived long enough to have empathy for anyone.

    And Doug --- cheers :-)

    I have no further comment.

    Doug.....We had ALL races in the treatment center and I didn't focus on the black or white clients. My focus was be responsible for your own or poor, black or white. Many people in America have accomplished that goal without gov programs

    Yes, indeed, why don't we invest half of that $45K in the education of our children from the ages of 5 to 18. It would save money in the long run. But that would mean political vision especially on a state level...something that is in short supply.

    Bill Moyer's concluding remarks hit the nail right on the head. Having read The Spirit Level, being a member of a mixed race family, and being a public school teacher, I see the truth and his remarks. I could easily fall into despair and become pessimistic. But what I really feel is anger at what those in power have done to corrupt the American Dream. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a courageous individual and here we are worse off than when he was alive. Who will speak for the disadvantaged, which we need to realize, s all of us. Thank you Bill.

    I'm a white man the same age as Bill Moyer. Who will facilitate intelligently airing such critical issues as tonight's topic? I will miss him greatly. I vividly remember Jim Crow -- dehumanizing; blacks certainly still suffer as was so graphically stated -- along with poor whites and Latinos -- but even more so, socially and economically. When will America end this assinyne "War On Drugs"? Legalise them, tax them, and build treatment centers instead of more prisons. America is in a stranglehold of lobbyists, politicians, and financial giants who have no concern for our general population; only their personal well-being. Unfortunately, I have little hope for the future of our people - black or white. We lack the power to change it.

    Thank you. I dream of a day when the intelligent discourse and information provided on your show is a part of our early educational system. The highlight of my week is watching your show. I always hope millions of people are watching and for some reason I am always hoping that President Obama is watching. Thank you Bill Moyers for another show that introduces me to such amazing individuals. Individuals that provide me with the inspiration to carry on with the work that I do. Thank you Michelle Alexander and Bryan Stevenson for your thoughtfulness, passion, intelligence, strength and courage for committing yourselves to the pursuit of a compassionate and just world for all.

    I find the comments about "entitlements" interesting. Among the people that are "slipping through the cracks" are not just the people on welfare or close to it.

    It's people who one would think should be comfortably middle class: schoolteachers and non-managerial white collar workers and mechanics and so on are not "poor people". Yet those kinds of people are struggling as well.

    One of the biggest problems I see is that people who are struggling prefer to keep up appearances of being upper-middle-class Joneses when fewer and few of us are.

    No, it is the way you are "choosing" it to be.

    I have a tendency to feel like many in our nation suffer from an "assumed victim mentality": we have been victimized in the past, so all we can see is the lasting strains of persecution that continue to pervade our being. We obviously don't want to forget the persecutions that have happened to us in the past. But, in a sense, when we hold on to these terrible memories, we are in a sense, choosing to be held captive by them in the present, with intentions of never letting go of the pain in the future.

    In a sense, it is our inability to let go of the past that causes us to remain in bondage: in prisons, in the workforce, in our schools, abandoning our schools, abandoning our family social fabric. Enslaved by a history we will never choose to forget, we speak out to our nation wondering, “Is this fair?”

    Is it fair that we remain the majority in our prisons? Is it fair that we choose to commit most violent crimes reported in our country?

    Is it fair for us to choose to remain enslaved by the past by choosing never to let go?

    We shall never let go, and therefore, we will never be set free.
    We choose to be enslaved. It is the way it was meant to be.

    During the latter part of this program Lincoln and the American Civil War were mentioned. As usual, Lincoln was mentioned as a "great emancipator." Two books which give greater insight into both Lincoln's motives and the American conflict of 1861-1865 are The South Was Right by Kennedy, and The Creature From Jekyll Island, by Griffin. Both are available at Amazon.

    Hmm, 40+ years of “the war on poverty” and the poverty rate, despite trillions of dollars, is still the same. The presenters are spouting the same victim based mentality that has been proven by time to only create more of the same. As a result of their "good intentions," millions of people have been disempowered and have placed their energy into how to get what can be gotten from the government versus making the best of themselves. "Social justice" has become a euphemism for "victim mentality" and an attitude of entitlement (e.g., welfare, social security disability income, food stamps, section 8, the “right” to free health care, etc, etc.,)," as well as a counterintuitive and self-righteous sense of indignation towards people that have worked hard for what they have. All of this serves to “dummy down” everyone’s potential and success in life. It hasn't worked in the past to bring people out of poverty, isn't working now, and no matter how many more trillions we spend, it won't work in the future. Let’s stop paradoxically holding people back, as well as disrespecting them, by providing a menu of readymade excuses as to why they can’t accomplish great things.

    Both Mr. Stevenson and Ms. Alexander were on point. I am going out tomorrow to buy her book.
    Mr. Moyers mentioned a book by Norm Garfinkel. Did any get the title?

    Amen. I recently lost custody
    of my only child because as a teenager she became defiant and I stood up as a good parent to her defiance.
    I challenged Children and Youth.As a teacher and an advocate, I knew my rights which made them harsher against me. I was attacked for my knowledge.
    I am white, live below the poverty level due to a chronic illness and didn't have a chance against the WEALTH SENSITIVE LEGAL SYSTEM.
    I haven't seen my daughter in over a year and half because her friend's parents, who I gave her permission to stay with during a crisis, has BOUGHT my daughter with a WEALTHY lifestyle, car, international trips and what ever else she wants.
    They rewarded her defiance with gifts and affluent lifestyle which totally influenced the decision of Children and Youth Agency and the WEALTH SENSITIVE LEGAL SYSTEM.
    I was investigated for child abuse because of my daughter's lies and the foster parents false allegations which was ALL proved UNFOUNDED. And during the final orders...a year and a half into the court case against me with out counsel...The Guardian Ad Lidem said to the judge...
    "This child deserves a better life, one that her mother will never be able to provide for her."
    And I lost my daughter through the WEALTH SENSITIVE LEGAL SYSTEM that has no respect for the struggling financially disadvantaged.
    A Biological mother is not as important as a BUYological foster mother.

    Thank you Bill Moyers for bringing these 2 Champions of Change to the viewers...

    We need a HUMAN RIGHTS Revolution. IT IS LONG OVER DUE!!!!

    Thank you for your courage and your insights to expose the unjust.

    I listened with interest to this question about justice and it occurs to me that rather than complain about being disadvantaged, the "disadvantaged" need to get themselves into a position which allows them to bcome the policemen, the teachers, the bankers in their community instead of the drug dealers, the drug users, etc. etc. his will take some convincing them to stay in school. Get it people, EDUCATION IS THE ONLY WAY OUT OF POVERTY!

    Jane, as the program stated, white people and black people use and sell drugs at the same rate. And yet we arrest and jail black people much much more. So they are forced to 'suffer the consequences' disproportionately.

    The schools in black neighborhoods and poor neighborhoods are worse, the job opportunities are worse, the pay is worse, everything is worse. It should be illegal to pay women or minorities less than men, but this still happens and the supreme court basically said that unless a company admits to discrimination/racism, you can't prove it.

    "It makes me ill reading and listening to all these negative words about the greatest country in the world."

    This isn't Nazi Germany. We are allowed to criticize our leaders and our government. You obviously didn't watch the program, either. We have the greatest inequity of any major nation in the world. Decades of data have shown that those nations that have greater equity have citizens who: live longer, are healthier, have lower incarceration rates, and so forth.

    "People are responsible for their own behavior and if they chose not to be responsible, then they need to suffer the consequences"

    Then the same standard should be applied equally to all people, not just black people and the poor. But of course there would be outrage if SWAT teams were constantly raiding houses in the suburbs, white people were being pulled over and frisked randomly, and juries sentenced white people to death as frequently as they do black people.

    I believe that, among other things, a just society would be one in which working people would own and democratically elect the management of the corporations for which they work.

    There are two faces to the contradiction between capitalism and democracy that has haunted this nation since its inception.
    One is how we think about race and the way it was used to make this country prosperous through the institutions of slavery and segregation. These were addressed by the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement, respectively.

    The other aspect is how we organize work. This is what a Human Rights Campaign, as a successor to the Civil Rights movement and the Poor People's Campaign, should address. This is what will make our nation fulfill its promise as a true democracy, with real liberty and real justice for all.

    As I sit here watching the show while filling out my younger son's FAFSA form, remember one cannot receive federal financial aid for college with a drug offense on one's record. Gee, who other than the poor, can't afford the representation to keep their records clean.

    I believe that, among other things, a just society would be one in which working people would own and democratically elect the management of the corporations for which they work.

    There are two faces to the contradiction between capitalism and democracy that has haunted this nation since its inception.
    One is how we think about race and the way it was used to make this country prosperous through the institutions of slavery and segregation. These were addressed by the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement, respectively.

    The other aspect is how we organize work. This is what a Human Rights Campaign, as a successor to the Civil Rights movement and the Poor People's Campaign, should address. This is what will make our nation fulfill its promise as a true democracy, with real liberty and real justice for all.

    The last five-or-so minute monologue of the Alexander/Stevenson (April 2, 2010) edition of Bill Moyers' Journal offered one of the most powerful summaries of the major problems facing the U.S. and, by extension, the world that I've heard. Ever. It is not part of the transcript. Short of spending $30 for the DVD of the show, how might I read or see it again?

    Also, I thoroughly enjoyed the interviews with the Ms. Alexander and Mr. Stevenson.

    Wow......watching that show and reading some of these posts it amazes me as to why you want to live in America?? People go to jail by choice, people do drugs, by choice, neglect school by choice,unemployed, by choice, and live off the government, by choice. Of course, there are extreme cases but most situations are of choice. All the gov. hand-out programs created more problems then did any good. Why work and be a success in life when by choice, you can collect free everything needed in life. Reagan pushed for drug treatment in the 80's and many were treated at the cost of tax-payers. I know as I worked in a facility.People were treated at the cost of $10,000.00 only to return time and time again. Judges thought treatment would cut down on crime, which it did not in most cases. This again, was a personal choice and the program went broke because selling drugs and crime were easier then getting an education and employment. Moyers wailed about big business and money. Did he account for how many people were/are employed by big business? Families can buy food, homes, cars, and insurance because of big business and live the American dream. One post stated people should be arrested for name calling the president. Should they have been arrested for movies made about killing Pres. Bush? It makes me ill reading and listening to all these negative words about the greatest country in the world. People are responsible for their own behavior and if they chose not to be responsible, then they need to suffer the consequences, by their own choice.

    When I went to work in a juvenile court in Ohio after about a week someone asked me what I thought. I said it looked like a bunch of white folks locking up a lot of black kids. And Ms. Alexander and Mr. Stephenson has borne me out. I agree that the incarceration of young black men is the most egregious policy of despair that we have along with the provisions in the so-called "welfare reform" legislation that prohibits drug convicted citizens from occupying public housing. One of the problems I perceive with revisiting the time of 40 years ago to try and create a more just society is that in the mean time a whole industry of lawyers, prison guards and all the other attendant personnel has to be dealt with. While we may take half of that $45,000 spent to keep a young man incarcerated and turn it to social programs the privateers in the prison industry will begin lobbying and probably my own public employee union would have objections to that. We need to assuage the savage beast of "special interests" while creating a society of economic, dignified justice. Please continue bringing these critical miscarriages to us. What I'm going to do personally to lift my voice, I'm not sure. But, when MLK fought these battles and raised our aspirations, the capitalistic system was not as deeply embedded in this ugly form of public policy.

    I can't believe the supreme court basically said you can't legally counteract racism racist policies unless people openly admit to it. Imagine if they said we could only prosecute criminals who confess crimes on their own.

    As a Southerner, too, it's just embarrassing that only 10% of white people in Alabama voted for Barack Obama, and 13% of people under 30. That's blatant racism that isn't going to ever go away unless it's dealt with.

    Until the supreme court shifts, I don't see anything improving. They recently ruled corporations are people, and contribute obscene amounts of money to influence politics, so it's going to get much much worse before it gets better.

    I am a white man.

    Bryan Stevenson exhibits a patience for this brutally racist culture that I could never match. Were I Black I could scarcely control my rage at the statistics reviewed in this program.

    Michelle Alexander exhibits more of the passion I would have in her position, but still a remarkable level of poise in dealing with these injustices. The historical co-opting of white poor by landowners she reviewed is now done on television with great efficiency on FOX news. Tea Partiers seem to be happy with their exploitative circumstances as long as Blacks suffer a worse condition than they. And they seem to be blind to the loss of freedom brought about by corporations, condemning instead only the government they remember that brought about change in civil rights.

    Feminists have done great damage and great disservice to the civil rights movement by overshadowing Black suffering, and pressing policies past the point of any rational and fair redress. While we're constantly bludgeoned with the criminalization of men for thinking thoughts of sex, for traditional genital mutilation half a world away, for Muslim women abroad we must free from traditional lives (or destroy their culture) to steal their oil, for a few unhappy (or happy) desert polygamists' wives (while ignoring the plight of their little boys sent away to LA prostitution) for all of these attention grabbing claims, Blacks are rotting away in jails at numbers that should shame white women and men. We're more comfortable making sure girls get special advantages in math while boys fall behind across the board than redressing the far more serious inequalities of race in this country. This was the design of a Southern racist Senator who amended the civil rights act, and we bought it hook, line and sinker.

    Thank you so very much for your openness and caring. Your interview with Michelle Alexander was fantastic. I am white, but my maiden name was Blackmon. I had all sorts of name calling, shoving, hitting - in San Francisco. So, here is an "international city" that wasn't above discrimination. Wherever we live we have that - I also lived in Toronto Canada, and Kirkland Lake, Canada, and because I was an American I was verbally abused, and pushed around. I simply think it all has to do with education. We have to rise above it - by choice: Don't choose to react! Especially with anger! If you do, The Bully Wins! Life is a choice! Whatever we put into our minds - directs us!
    I was very lucky, I lived with a couple who taught me that anger was not allowed (not parents) in the house, nor was cussing or throwing a fit. When angery, I had to leave the house and take a hike and go kick a tree or a rock! Then when I came back to my "senses", I allowed back into the house. It taught me self control. To not allow what other people say, or if something doesn't go your way, shouldn't overwhelm me and push me to anger! It is learning to handle your anger that brings you above the problems of life.
    A good lesson: it toughens you up to handle what life throws at you!
    It's called self control!
    Did you know it could also be what you eat? Yes! Your food can push you to anger too. Believe it or not! Aspartame, Splenda, GMO's and junk food can enrage a person! It's true!

    The program this evening was very depressing. Basically, you talked about the death of a dream. The dream was life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, or as some have defined it - democracy. Interpretations include liberty, equality and fraternity in France and peace, order and good government in Canada.

    Yet this discussion focussed on the issues of mass incarceration of blacks and poor white people. The discussion was mainly about racism, poverty and prejudice. There has been prejudice and incarceration of Jews, Palestinians, Muslims, Asians, Mexicans, and Chinese to name just a few groups. You also talked about a bias in the justice system, the health care system and the educational system. From what I heard, it looks like Reverend King’s dream of human equality is pretty much dead.

    You also talked about the American dream and American values as if ‘other’ countries do not have the same universal values. This is also a racist view. Why not think of human rights in terms of a worldview? Equality does not exist only as an American dream. Justice is not something that only exists in the mind of Americans. Health Care is desired in many other countries in the world. The dream has died and been replaced with the nightmare of a rich and powerful elite who control the systems to make themselves more money. What did Bill say? The average CEO in 1980 only earned 25X the salary of their lowest paid worker, and by 2007 is was 350X the lowest paid worker. The spirit level would surely indicate an imbalance.

    The root of the problem is not racism and prejudice of the common folk; it is global power and greed of a few. It is the wealthy versus the poor. It is the act of dividing the common people into visible minorities so they can be ruled and conquered. This is the strategy used to gain and maintain power and wealth. You break up your opponent into smaller groups of individuals; get them to see themselves as republicans or democrats, capitalist or socialists, white or black. You try to foment fear. You make sure they fight among themselves so they waste their energy and don’t vote for one of their own. You destroy their dream and we all have the same dream don’t we?

    One of the best shows I have ever seen on television: it really managed to show our inability as Americans to understand that real change must ultimately be measured in terms of social justice. It started with the question of race and law but could just as easily gotten to the same place talking about imigration, taxation, globalization or almost any type of social policy since we just never want to measure our public policy decisions in terms of their impact on social justice, So strong is our prejudice in favor of the rights of the individual.

    I just want to thank you for having the courage to tell the truth. I am 61 years old and lived through the 60's. It still seems the same to me. I still suffer with the hurt. I have seen the recent hate demonstrated against our president. If the same type of disrespect had been shown to Bush a lot of people would have gotten purnished. My country is a disappointment to me. Why are we so hateful. The US will strongly critize other countries for ill treating their citizens yet there are the poor white and black people who are being reated as if they are not human. May God forgive America.

    I am not an African American but I totally
    agree with every thing Ms Alexander and
    Mr Stevenson said tonight.I cannot wait to read Ms Alexander's new book.We have never come to terms in this country with
    our history of slavery and Jim Crow and the
    effects it had on the African American
    society we have no problem discussing the
    killing of 6 million Jews by the Nazis
    but our own history of genocide of Native Americans and the African slave
    trade.The fact that we have so many
    young African American men in prison
    today is an extension of tis history.
    Where are the leaders of today in the
    African American community that can
    continue the work of MLK .Change
    comes from the bottom not from our
    government.We need to make them
    change without MLK there would there
    would have been no LBJ signing of the
    civil rights act. Thanks Mr Moyers for
    having these two brilliant young people
    discussing this very important subject
    on you program tonight.

    I just saw the show... Both Stevenson and Alexander have good motives and make many good points, but I felt that Alexander tended to leave LOTS of inconvenient detail out of some of her examples of discrimination/inequality to paint a more "moving" picture... For example, she related that at the big party the night of Obama's Presidential win, when the party goers were leaving the building, there was an African-American man handcuffed behind his back, kneeling in the gutter, with police around him laughing, talking, and totally "unaware of his fundamental human existence..." She relates how the party-goers just glanced over and then proceeded on their way, with no concern about this Black man when they had just been celebrating Obama's win. Well, first of all, she was one of the party-goers, and apparently she also denied the man's humanity herself. Why was the man handcuffed? Was it because he was Black? What exactly were people supposed to do? Why were people supposed to be more aware of this person, who had obviously done SOMETHING, because of his color/race? If the handcuffed man had been White, then I suppose it would have been OK in Alexander's view to just walk on by? And, what DID the man do?

    That's just one example of the kind of stories and examples that she used to portray America as being in a "New Jim Crow Era". I myself am aware that we have tons of racial inequality, as well as other kinds (try being gay, or trans-gender, etc.), in this country at this time. I agree with lots of what both said as far as certain laws having an unequal negative impact on people of color, especially the poor. But stories full of gaps and half-true accusations such as the African-American man handcuffed will only hurt the larger, positive cause that I believe they are supporting.

    I don't believe any good change will come from making accusations at one group about unfairly treating another. All it does is to make the accused group defensive, instead of open to seeing things in a new way. For another example, Stevenson talked about how he would be seen as suspicious if he walked in certain neighborhoods dressed a certain way, just because of his color and how he was dressed. True, that. But, any White person who has ventured into a place like Harlem and been verbally if not physically harassed, knows that these things all work both ways. I don't know, right now, what "the answer" is. I just think that the basic strategy of accusation will not ever have good results. Fine, change laws, protest certain laws, point out how they work against Blacks. Just don't accuse one race of injustice to another race, because all you're doing is over-generalizing, stereotyping, and being prejudice... just the things you are trying to change.

    Trying to engraft drug dealing and use on the doctrine of Jim Crow is absurd on its face. Which is it? Is the C.I.A flooding the black community with drugs? Wasn't it the black community that accused the police of being racist for turning a blind eye to enforcement in their communities? It is laughable the supression of drug dealing, glorified by the rapper community and disavowed by the likes of Bill Cosby, is now racist because drugs have increasing become a problem of all races. The lack of reference to drug gangs moving from cities to surburbs is also telling. Finally, the emphasis on nonvolent crime, as opposed to any omission to victimless, is obviously self-serving. In sum the case Blacks are being denied the equal protection of the law seems politically duplicitious, expedient, and frivilous.

    Old news to those who are in the life, someone had to put this into words. I thank B.M.J. for having the guts to air what we have known for years and the voices that cried out seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. Thanks BMJ

    Great program, although it is difficult to accept that as things change most stay the same. I am a professional Black of the 1970's. I agree with the research and conclusions of you guest. Reminds me of Blackmon's Slavery by Another Name.

    It's simple math. How many people out of 5 would you be willing to sacrifice so that everyone else in America has access to the American Experience. Most Caucasians would say at least 1/5. That number constitutes 20% of people in America whom are denied their rights then it's Ok.
    Strangely, Black America constitutes about 12% of the population.

    It's the same question for the Death Penalty. How many innocent men are you willing to kill in order to get the guilty. Again most people would willing sacrifice 1/5 people. Again that's 20%, which is almost double the black population. A form of plausible denial.

    Finally, Why didn't Bill Moyer bring Tim Wise onto the show. Next time Bill, bring Tim Wise to the show. But don't take my word for it, do a search for him, and read his essays. I'm amazed that here's a guy that actually gets it, and he's white. There's still hope even if it's a sliver.

    No one here has a right to expresss an opinion unless they live south of the Black Belt in Alabama, Mississippi or Georgia!

    I just finished watching "Towards a More Just Society". The message during the show ebbed and flowed and reflects what I think is at the core of the systemic inability to truly address poverty. The program started with a focus on economic justice. But for the bulk of the show, the focus was on structural racism, primarily focused on African-Americans. If I was poor and white, then I would have turned off - mentally and literally. It seems that even highly respected academics and advocates for justice, as interviewed in this show, can't seem to decide what path to follow - that is, to focus on racial injustice or to focus on economic injustice. While these issues are intertwined (no doubt), I think that the reason that MLKs message re: economic justice had so much potential power was that it transcended racial injustice and focused on economic injustice. Continuing to waver back and forth between structural racism and economic racism, while academic "correct", will not lead to the coalitions needed for real change.

    If our aim is to eliminate poverty and injustice the ideal would be to tailor intervention to the specific history and current needs of the individual within the context of their own community.

    Dr King was/1s 100% right in that we need to frame this as a human problem and not just one of "minority rights" though, obviously minorities are disproportionately represented among the ranks of the poor and the victims of injustice.

    listening to "Just Society" i know you have hundreds of comment and mines might not be heard but i have to say my two cents. I agree with the past freedom fighters "Gandhi, Kings, Mandela" Fight for those of us who can't stand up. Even you "Mr. Moyers" ty for opening our mines to a view that make us think and i mean it sincerely.
    I think for us the law should be so strong that no one be fearful speaking out base upon ones race, or the laws be only for one group and against another.
    I live in this mind created reality that we are evolve to a stage where we are judge not by the color nor do our race.
    My point is if applied equaly one would realize that there are good and bad in all groups.
    Your closing comment about the banks salary... i will not see that in my life.... and yes it makes me angry.... that what wrong with these organization... don't they see the back lash. If they are thinking that no one would do there job for 1/32 of the salary think again... As worker some of us take pride in our job but others after see the vast difference in pay would not be to eager to help build a stronger company. I have more to vent but ty for allowing my two cent on the issue.

    Who wrote the Level Society?

    I am dismayed by the executive salary ratios you listed at the closing of the show on Social Justice. These executives were collecting huge compensation packages while exporting American jobs overseas. It will be difficult to build a Just Society while so many people are competing for the few meaningful jobs that remain.

    Thank you for another thoughtful show.

    I live in Mobile Alabama. This episode seemed a fine clinical discussion of politics and issues. I would like to see the same discussion of Black economic and education issues by individuals that still live here and are actively engaged in the struggle. That are emotional in speaking and striving to make changes.
    There's no movement here to make things better even with a black president. There is no voice here. It's still the status quo.
    Even a lower middle class white guy like me can see that lack of money for education here defines the line for public and private schools and so defines the opportunities in LIFE.
    If there isn't a passionate voice for change here nothing will happen.
    The government here doesn't care. The outlook is bleak.

    I want to give you show it props the show on Martin Lither King is right on point. People of color are defiantly being locked into a permanent under class. Tanks for shedding some light on this topic. I am proud to be a paying member of public TV. Peace

    Michelle Alexander expressed my deepest feelings in a way that I've yet to express adequately - and I've been trying for 50 years. I will be watching again on Sunday night, and will allow her thoughts to penetrate deeper into my soul. Thank you,

    Bigotry exists everywhere. However, African Americans do have the largest slice of this pie in the U.S.

    Blacks are hardly the only minority group in this country nor the only one seeing discrimination. But, in any case, economic inequality is hardly due solely or even primarily to that. I've written about this so much here in the past few years that I won't bother again, even if I didn't believe I've seen this very same show here before.

    Our punitive system of incarceration is the direct legacy of slavery and segregation, the mantle for which was transferred from a system of private ownership to institutionalized networks of state and federally operated prisons. But don't take my word for this assessment. Read for yourself the two sentences that comprise the XIII Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and find the word abolition or its synonym: 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

    Towards a more just society,
    This will only draw laughs from lawyers and layman in America, the so-called "Land of the Free, and Home of the Brave".
    If there is a law that gives employers the right to manipulate the "Work-at-Will" doctrine, which gives employers the right to extend the laws of Slavery, then this is it.
    Are you, who talk of justice know the meaning of this "Will-to-work" law that is plagueing this society.

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