“I Used to Think, Now I know”

I used to think that that the racial inequality in the administration of the criminal justice system was rooted in provable differences between urban communities and suburban communities. While I never believed that poor urban minorities committed as much more crime than rich suburban white people as incarceration rates would indicate, I did think that there were good reasons for the inequalities in arrest and conviction rates among the races. “Maybe it’s easier to patrol inner city communities and observe crime,” I thought to myself, “or maybe you can stop more crime per hour per cop in the city than you can in the suburbs or rural towns.” At the very least, I always told myself that there couldn’t be blatant, unjustified racism in the criminal justice system. 

But now, thanks to Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow,” the documentary “The House I Lived In,” and my various experiences at GJP, it’s become overwhelmingly clear that those justifications for the racial inequality in our system do not exist. The only real reasons I can see for this inequality is systemic and implicit societal racism, and MAYBE the fact that poor minorities do not have the resources or political savvy to fight back against this racism in court or through congressmen. It doesn’t help that state and federal courts – even the Supreme Court of the United States – have made it virtually impossible to hold local governments and police departments accountable for this racism. This doesn’t make policing inner cities easier or more efficient than policing white suburbs – as that’s been proven to be false; rather, it just makes it more convenient. It’s also made racial profiling somewhat politically correct, because it can be said that many more arrests and convictions happen among the urban black “gangstas” than among the white college frat guys, even though that does not paint a full picture of actual crime rates between the races. 

I’m incredibly grateful to GJP for the opportunity to learn these truths and to work toward racial justice. I love coming to work every day, and my experiences have absolutely fueled my conviction that I want to work in the field of civil rights in some capacity. I will forever be indebted to GJP for the lessons I’ve learned here.”