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social justice is not just for liberals

“The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.” ~ Deuteronomy 32:4

“For I the LORD love justice.” ~ Isaiah 61:8a

A picture hangs in the hallway of my school, put there by students completing a project. A three-year-old child named Alan lies face-down in the sand of a beach. His lifeless body looks cold and wet. Arms limp at his sides. I pass it every day on my way to the office, and the picture cries out, “Save me!” in haunting lamentations as I walk. It’s too late, I think in grief. You’re already dead.

[Note: This is the third installment in a series on Michelle Alexander's book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. For other posts in this series see: I've moved away from the discussion/commentary structure of my previous posts in this series to instead just listing the main sources that Alexander cites, along with the facts they reference. My impression has been that most people reading this series are scrolling through for relevant information to aid their own research. Hopefully formatting each post to more clearly focus on the sources and facts will be more helpful.] the new jim crow In Chapter 3, Alexander focuses her attention on the racial disparities between groups in the criminal justice system that cannot be explained by higher rates of crime, drugs, or other factors. Here are the major talking points and some of the evidence she offers in support:

“Hey, look at my eyes!” The girl pressed her fingers to the corners of her eyelids and slanted them upwards, then downwards, then upwards again. “Haha!” She started chanting in a sing-song manner, “Ching-chong, ching-chong!” We were at summer camp and eating ice cream at a picnic table. I was barely 12 and joined her happily, as did our friends. When she saw that I joined, she dropped her hands and laughed even louder, slamming the table and saying, “You look so funny!” I didn’t get it. Wasn’t that the point? I thought we all looked funny. But I could tell from her inflection that I was the one who looked particularly funny.

The door swung open, and the school counselor pushed a seven-year-old child into the room. As the child's eyes met my own, his face turned pale white. I groaned inwardly but maintained a stoic expression. "This one of yours?" the counselor said. I nodded, and the counselor ushered Dustin to an empty table. He settled down in the back of the room, and I returned to the group of staff members at my own table. These meetings always ruined my day. Dustin had entered the school a few weeks ago. Quite frankly, I was less than thrilled by his arrival. Thanks to him, my classroom expanded — yet again —to an impossible 28 children, an unacceptably large number for kindergarten. And he wasn't just the normal addition. He was the kind that liked to curse, punch, scream, run out of the room, hide in various locations, and refuse to listen to any sort of command or request whatsoever.

"Don't laugh at what you don't understand." Okay, so the words sound a bit harsh, but I promise you that my tone of voice and facial expression clearly communicated warmth, love, and kindness. And yes, I did say this to my students. Because my students needed to hear it. I have avoided talking about the American election with my Korean high schoolers for most of the past few months. It didn't seem appropriate or even remotely related to what I was teaching. So I just steered away from the topic. [caption id="attachment_1460" align="alignnone" width="2080"]chalkboard-class-picture Things quickly turned political in class today, even though I was only teaching conditional sentences.[/caption] But then we began a culture exchange, where they communicate by video with Americans attending high school in the U.S., and one by one my students were shocked to discover that many of these American young people were Trump supporters. Or at least had parents who were voting for Trump.