Race in Social Problems Essay

This essay has a total of 2382 words and 9 pages.

Race in Social Problems

Last semester when I signed up for classes, I thought Sociology 260: Social Problems in
the US would be a course where a minimal amount of time would be spent on discussing
social problems and a maximum amount of time would be used to discuss public policies to
combat such social problems. I wanted to jump the gun. I did not see that in order to
implement a public policy, which would be of use, I had to fully understand all facets of
the problem. Through these various books and articles, The Condemnation of Little B by
Elaine Brown, "The Ghosts of 9-1-1: Reflections on History, Justice and Roosting
Chickens," in On the Justice of Roosting Chickens by Ward Churchill, Perversions of
Justice: Indigenous Peoples and Angloamerican Law by Ward Churchill, No Equal Justice:
Race and Class in the American Justice System by David Cole, Welcome to the Machine:
Science Surveillance, and the Culture of Control by Derrick Jensen and George Draffan,
"Mastering the Female Pelvis: Race and the Tools of Reproduction," in Public Privates:
Preforming Gynecology From Both Ends of the Spectrum by Terri Kapsalis and "Race and the
New Reproduction" in Killing the Black Body by Dorothy Roberts, a better understanding
came to light on social issues currently seen as problematic like poverty, health care,
race and discrimination, gender inequality and crime.

In the book The Condemnation of Little B, Brown's central theses is the criminal justice
system. Throughout the book the one argument she is constantly supporting is the idea that
young black boys, in their early teens, are arrested and put through the criminal justice
system in a new age version of lynch-mob justice. The alleged crimes of these young black
boys recieve much media fanfare, but when they are cleared of any wrong-doing nothing is
said about it in the media. She makes her arguments by using the story of Little B as a
frame for her theses. By taking his story and stripping away the prosecution's rush to
judgment in the investigation and trial; using the words of drug dealers awaiting
sentencing and addicts, such as Little B's mother, to ramrod through a conviction in which
there was no physical evidence connecting the boy to the killing. To supplement the frame
she recaps high profile cases of young black children being arrested and charged for
crimes despite evidence to the contrary.

The Condemnation of Little B bored me, but at the same time it was a wake-up call. It
sparked an interest in me, and I found that in 1999 two-thirds of juveniles on death row
are children of colour. Like Little B many of them did not recieve proper legal
representation or full Constitutional protection. Little B wasn't read his Miranda Right's
and maybe it's because I went to school in Rockland County and maybe it's just stemmed
from where my family and I stand on a socio-economic level, but I was taught getting read
your Miranda Right's was standard. Brown's book to me was a work of protest for all
coloured youth who are constantly beind demonized and underrated by the media and society.

In "The Ghosts of 9-1-1: Reflections on History, Justice and Roosting Chickens"
Churchill's central theses is American Imperialism. The one argument he ramrods throughout
the reading is that 9-11 was not a random act of hate; 9-11 was the culmination of 225
years of American Imperialism. He points out that assuming a 15-to-1 US-to-Iraq population
ratio, 7.5 million children and 22.5 million adults must die in the US in order to achieve
parity with the Iraqis dead from US-imposed sanctions after the first Gulf War. He shows
how the dead from 9-11 is miniscule in comparison to the murders we perpetrated around the
globe. Using a somewhat controversial comparison, Churchill compares our national
criminality and denial to that of German citizens during World War II. He uses the
philospher Karl Jaspers four part formulation of guilt.

"The Ghosts of 9-1-1: Reflections on History, Justice and Roosting Chickens" is
controversial, and I liked it. This section of On the Justice of Roosting Chickens came
out in the wake of 9-11. It made people think. Like if one US citizen must die for every
death our country was responsible for around the world, we would have no citizens left.
Churchill compared us to the citizens of Nazi Germany, essentially calling all American
citizens little Eichmanns. Eichmann was a mere mid-level officer in the SS, by all
accounts a good husband and devoted father, apparently quite mild-mannered, and never
accused of having personally murdered anyone at all. His only crime was that he saw what
was going on and did nothing. For that reason, that comparison is more than accurate. This
reading is a wake-up call to all Americans who turn their heads when they see American
Imperialsm at work and say nothing, then ask, "why would anyone ever want to attack us?"

In the book Perversions of Justice: Indigenous Peoples and Angloamerican Law, Churchill's
central theses is Angloamerican Law and the continual occupation of indigenous lands by
the U.S. and failure to obey international law. His stand is that the U.S. has
consistently employed a corrupt form of legalism as a means of establishing colonial
control and empire. Through 11 essays, he traces the evolution of federal Indian law and
shows how it was a foundation that went on to be used in non-Indian U.S. land.
Furthermore, he showcases how such behaviour is also being used on the international front
as a form of imperialism.

In 1803 Chief Justice John Marshall pointed out what made America so different from other
countries, he said that we are a "nation of laws, not of men." 202 years later, American
has become a nation of laws that is being misinterpreted by men, so much that the U.S. is
functioning on the national and international level in ways that are fundamentally opposed
to the basic ideals of freedom and democracy it is sworn to uphold. This book, while very
dry and very repetitive, is a wake-up call. A wake-up call to the continuing decline of
American liberty.

In the book Perversions of Justice: Indigenous Peoples and Angloamerican Law, Cole's
central theses is the Criminal Justice System. His main argument is that the American
criminal justice system has become a two-tiered system with different levels of regard
depending on the race, class and socio-economic level of a given citizen who comes in
contact with it. Cole makes his case by examining how the police use racial profiling.
Racial profiling in that police single out minorities, specifically blacks, based on
stereotypes. He then looks at the idea of equal opportunity. The sixth amendment
guarantees the assistance of a lawyer, but how good can a public defender be when state
Continues for 5 more pages >>




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