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The Sun Magazine

Culture and Society

Crime

The Sun Interview

Throwing Away The Key

Michelle Alexander On How Prisons Have Become The New Jim Crow

Yes, during the original Jim Crow era Whites Only signs hung over drinking fountains, and black people were forced to sit at the back of the bus. There was no denying the existence of the caste system. But today people in prison are largely invisible to the rest of us. We have more than 2 million inmates warehoused, but if you’re not one of them, or a family member of one of them, you scarcely notice. Most prisons are located far from urban centers and major freeways. You literally don’t see them, and when inmates return home, they’re typically returned to the segregated ghetto neighborhoods from which they came, leaving the middle class unaware of how vast this discriminatory system has become in a very short time.

Fiction

Shoeless

The gal looked young in the body and old in the face standing alongside I-80 with a flowered suitcase held over her head to block the sun. Stop! Darrell said when we drove by her, but Jake didn’t take his foot off the gas. She’s not such a looker, gentle Glenn whispered. He was by me in the back seat. They all look the same when they’re talking to your johnson, Darrell told him. He rolled his window down and hung his head out to stare at her disappearing shape.

Fiction

Somewhere In His Eyes

Somewhere in his eyes I see the five-year-old that he once was. I see him in the back of a kindergarten class, pacing, unable to sit down. I see him at home, leaning on the arm of a chair as his daddy blows marijuana smoke into his nostrils. Later he staggers around the room, making the grown-ups laugh.

Quotations

Sunbeams

I was walking down Fifth Avenue today, and I found a wallet. I was going to keep it, rather than return it, but I thought: Well, if I lost $150, how would I feel? And I realized I would want to be taught a lesson.

Emo Philips

The Sun Interview

Both Sides Of The Street

Connie Rice Lays Down The Law To Cops And Gangs

When you sit down with the Bloods and the Crips as Bloods and Crips, you just reinforce the symbols and ethos and dynamics of the gang. You need to take them as individuals and talk about their leadership in the neighborhood, their roles as men in their community, and what they can do to reduce the violence. You get them to take on responsibility. Then you have them at the table as community leaders — not gang leaders. The gang doesn’t get mentioned.