This essay identifies similarities between racial violence of an earlier time period, lynching, and its most efficient form today, mass incarceration, suggesting that today’s racial violence must be met with tools used by previous generations. It calls for a critical demeanor of shamelessness that allows targeted communities and their allies to avoid taking on the shame that mainstream discourse encourages them to accept. People of color are incarcerated in staggering numbers, but not because they are disproportionately guilty of violent or even nonviolent crimes. Given the extreme racial disparities, being caught by the nation’s criminal (in)justice system is simply not a reflection on one’s character, not a reason for shame. Americans of all backgrounds must educate and empower themselves to see that mass incarceration is fueling an empire whose greed knows no limits, as it insists on practices that allow the elite to make pawns of everyone else.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 143-152
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.