Based on the legal principle of “separate but equal,” the Jim Crow laws disseminated institutional discrimination across all socio-economic aspects of black people’s lives. The US legal system institutionalized racial segregation against African-Americans in transportation, education, housing, public facilities, and more. Although currently, such laws do not exist, black communities still experience the “New Jim Crow” laws due to the Stand-your-ground law, redlining, and mass incarceration.
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During the Jim Crow era, legal institutions explicitly targeted black people to jail disproportionately more than white people. Although not directly targeted at black people, the Stand-your-ground law is a continuation of such institutionalized discrimination. This law presumes that the police can use deadly force against those who they think are potential threats to their lives as a self-defense mechanism.
As an extension of that law, Treyvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and most recently George Floyd were killed, choked, or shot by police officers. In addition, a vast racial disparity can be seen in the use of the Stand-your-ground law. Only a tiny percent of black people who applied this law can prove their innocence more than white people. Thus, due to such a system of institutionalized discrimination, black individuals still experience Jim Crow.
Redlining is another example of systemic racism that approximates Jim Crow laws. Although currently, redlining practices are legally banned, their impact on black lives still thrives. Since black communities historically lived in redlined areas, their ability to economically prosper and claim housing in better areas is limited. Thus, they are confined to socio-economic consequences of previous Jim Crow laws, therefore, perpetuating New Jim Crow laws.
Lastly, Jim Crow continues in the form of consequences of mass incarceration. As black people are disproportionately targeted for crimes, as in the Jim Crow era, they are more likely to be incarcerated. After they are out of prison, they encounter the same legalized discrimination during the Jim Crow era (Alexander, 2020). Thus, black ex-felons cannot obtain proper jobs, education, housing, public benefits, and voting rights because of their status.
The legal system of the US still reintroduces Jim Crow laws in the form of indirect institutional discrimination such as the Stand-your-ground law. Redlining confines black people to poor neighborhoods and lower economic strata. Ex-felons, disproportionately black, face immense difficulties reintegrating into society due to legal discrimination. Hence, despite the decades after the US banned Jim Crow laws, people of color still indirectly experience them.
Alexander, M. (2020). The new Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness (10th ed.). New Press.
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