Michelle Alexander Extended Interview

“We could have responded to poverty and joblessness and drug addiction with care, compassion, and concern. But instead we declared a literal war.” Watch more of our conversation with law professor and author Michelle Alexander about crime, the war on drugs, and the disproportionately high number of African-Americans in prison.

  • T Thomas

    A few years ago when Morehouse College students and Tavis Smiley were warning young black men and others of color of the dangers of following ignorant trends such as wearing pants on their knees and turned around backwards [making their buttholes available to anyone that wants to take a "poke" at them] it was ignored and laughed off as people begruding them having fun and looking cool.

    There has never been anything cool about being ignorant and targeting yourself for violent treatment, etc. So many young people belly-ache about being stereotyped when all they while they engage in unrealistic, putrid, vulgar, anti-social behavior. When they are reprimanded about it, the common response is: “#(@$%&@ I’m just being black @)$#(*@!!!”

    How can they pick themselves up by the bootstraps when they can’t find their feet! Pull up your britches! Stand up straight, chest out, shoulders back and inhale the whole of life. They’d be surprised at how fast the brain will get air. Life change occurs with attitude changes. Why the hell should anyone invest in us when we don’t even have the decency to invest in ourselves. The excuses are lame, tired, used up worse than a broken down crutch left in a backalley to rot.

    The only way the so-called system is going to invest money in causes that affect us is when we become economically viable enough to make it impossible for them not. And, how about getting it together so that we don’t need fruit off the enemy’s tree. Remember what happened to Adam and Eve…the enemy’s fruit should be so unpalatable to us at this stage in history that we no longer desire it. And should have by now amassed resources so powerful that they cannot attack us on any front. Instead, we’ve left ourselves open, wounded and bleeding.

    As long as people are willing to walk around with bulls-eyes on their foreheads and kick me signs on their behinds [droopy pants], engaging in behavior even lunatics would find obnoxious and foul, the clouds of gloom and doom will continue to loom.

    Surely, if black people are ever to overcome, none of us over 45 will live long enough to see it come to fruition.

  • Craig Ash

    I spent 41 years in college English classrooms at 3 quite dfferent universities and watched young people’s attitudes and fashions change–and they do change. T Thomas is unnecessarily worried about a current manifestation of anger and contempt in the youth culture. The garb that Thomas describes will pass. What African-American young people are doing will soon become fashionable among whites, will be sanitized and glamorized, made voguish, become expensive, and then disappear–to be replaced by some new and–to us bougeois middle aged and elderly (I’m in my mid-70s) people–shocking or potentially harmful. I haven’t seen precisely the costume that Thomas describes (baggy, beltless pants and laceless shoes–yes) but not vulgar signs. Maybe they exist, but the current fad will moderate and vanish

  • keith knowles

    Our current culture and system of government have too many stakeholders who have little interest in building communities or foster opportunity development that would creates jobs in America. Our schools, state and local government, businesses, laws and national government are at war with the sole and direction of this country.

  • sceezone

    We’d be reprimanded with or without the pants. This is stupid. Did you even listen to what Alexander said?

  • Common

    Breaking the law = prison…. So maybe don’t break the law in the first place….