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 relieve 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 relieve 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 being 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 minuscule 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 philosopher 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 Eichmann's.
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 Imperialism 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 appointed attorney's defend three-quarters of all inmates in state prisons? The idea of equal justice cannot be founded on the kind of trial one gets depending on how much money you have. When I think of the Declaration of Independence, I think the idea that all men are created equal. Not the idea that all men are created equal, but some are better because they have more money. However, in the American legal system that's the way it is. While as criminals we are guaranteed certain rights, what good are those rights when first, many people are not educated about their rights and when second, money is the determining factor. This book is a wake-up call to how the disparities between the rich and poor is not just an issue of the way one lives, but also an issue of inequality before the law.
In the book Welcome to the Machine: Science Surveillance, and the Culture of Control, Jensen and Draffan's central theses is surveillance and privacy. Their main argument is that the current surveillance is an invasion of privacy and does not benefit American society but instead the government and corporate America. To make their case they describe the current technologies and the near future technologies that are and will be used to monitor our movements. Everything from bar codes to the black bars on your credit cards and the EZ-Pass you attach to your car, so you can go by tolls quicker. And for the future, radio frequency tags (RFID) that have the power to number, identify, catalogue and track every item in the world, mind-reading machines, soldiers that can leap buildings, deflect bullets with hard exoskeletons and even become invisible, pills to render people emotionless, thought implantation, using a beam of sound transmitted from hundreds of yards away so focused that only one person can hear it, etc. The other part of the book is the impact it will have on society and our freedoms.
The government and corporate America will know every citizen's face, favourite colour, employment history, favourite music, our secret fantasies- they " ll know everything. This book at some points is very dry and at some points terrifying. The arguments people put forth to defend surveillance and the infringement of civil liberties it will cause, is the idea that everything is being done for our own well-being. But to give up essential liberty for safety and the preservation of our liberties, isn't that in itself hypocritical? This book is more than just a wake-up call. It's a call to arms for the preservation of our rights and the very ideals that America stands for.
In the article 'Mastering the Female Pelvis: Race and the Tools of Reproduction,' Kapsalis' central theses is the surveillance of American bodies more specifically reproductive technologies. The theses is that throughout history black women have been guinea pigs to birth control. To make her case, Kapsalis gives the history of birth control. The father of American Gynecology, the Father of Modern Gynecology and Architect of the Vagina was Dr. J. Marion Sims.
The institution of slavery served the medical field in having subjects for experimentation, the use of speculum started on slave women's bodies and Sims surgical experimentation set a precedent for the medical institutions involvement in racist practices tart have to do with the reproductive capacities of poor, minority women. Fast forward 150 years later, the use of Norplant is thought of as a tool to fight against African-American poverty. This reading is informative. It's a wake-up call. It raises the question of how ethical the use of current birth control treatments. It begs the question of 'who are all these guinea pigs that made our lives easier and health better?' Also, it is another racist jab.
The underlying tone of the entire article is that slavery is the reason we have birth control, and now 150 years later. Birth control for white women is seen as something positive, as it is a personnel decision. Birth control for black women is seen as something negative because it is done for economic reasons. In 'Race and the New Reproduction,' Roberts central theses is surveillance of the body, specifically reproductive technologies.
Her main argument is that new forms of reproduction like in vito fertilization is made available only to white women, while black women are expected to adopt. To support her case, she explains how race shapes the new reproduction. The whole idea that poor, minority women are being forced to go on birth control- perpetuates the idea that they should not procreate. Roberts examines the connection between race and reproduction. Since socio-economically black women are at the lower end of the spectrum, they cannot afford high-tech procedures like in vito fertilization. She also brings up how some blacks are against trans racial adoption.
While reading 'Race and the New Production,' it made me think. What kind of society do I live in where, white women undergo expensive surgeries, so they can have children, while a disproportionate number of black women undergo surgery to prevent pregnancy? Should these expensive surgeries that would make it possible for women to bear their own children be covered by insurance? But in the first place, if they could not afford the surgery, how would they afford the child? At first glance, the issue of the new reproduction is a socio-economic issue. However, with that, the fact that socio-economically, blacks rank lower than whites, turns it into an issue of race. This reading was a wake-up call, to how deeply engrained the issue of race is in American society.
Throughout these seven readings, there is a common thread. To me the common thread was the underlying issue of race. It is apparent in all the readings except Welcome to the Machine: Science Surveillance, and the Culture of Control. However, upon further review, I realized that the government can spy on all of us all they want, but what would be the purpose? The purpose is for national security. In the wake of 9-11 the USA Patriot Act was passed, which gave the government a free card to infringe upon our right to privacy, to suspend habeus corpus, to declare martial law, etc.
, and in the wake of 9-11, terrorists became synonymous with the Middle East. The Condemnation of Little B focused on crime and poverty, 'The Ghosts of 9-1-1: Reflections on History, Justice and Roosting Chickens,' focused on American Imperialism, Perversions of Justice: Indigenous Peoples and Angloamerican Law focused on racism and American Imperialism, No Equal Justice: Race and Class in the American Justice System focused on racial inequality and crime, Welcome to the Machine: Science Surveillance, and the Culture of Control focused on the continual government infringement on a citizens right to privacy, 'Mastering the Female Pelvis: Race and the Tools of Reproduction' focused on gender and race inequality, and 'Race and the New Reproduction' focused on race inequality and healthcare. All these works were works of protest to enlighten America on the societal problems we have.