It is important to understand that the criminal justice system is one arena of institutional racism. Years of protesting, crying and dying, usually adult driven techniques for forcing change, have resulted in many significant changes. Yet in every major American institution we see evidence that proves racism persists. Many argue that the changes have merely been to camouflage what was once openly accepted. Racism still exists; however, under its new disguise the reality of racism is more palatable. It is imperative to understand that although racism was legislated against, this legislation did not and will not change what is in the hearts of many people.
Most of the cry for change has been targeted at institutional racism and individual racists. Many of the attempts to end racism have placed the people being treated unfairly as victims of racism. Any change is viewed as a benevolent gesture wade to the victims. It appears that white America does not understand that basic human rights and equality are not a matter of choice on their part.
Feagin and Sikes (1994) found that in the 1940’s most blacks like whites, were under the spell of the American creed, the ‘ideals of the essential dignity of the individual human being, of the fundamental equality of all men, and of certain inalienable rights to freedom, justice and a fair opportunity. The basics of the American Dream include not only liberty and justice but also the pursuit of happiness, which can be seen as including a decent-paying job, a good home, and a sense of personal dignity. The question is being asked, can all Americans achieve this dreams
Many teachers argue they are being called upon to teach children of color the basic tenets of the Constitution. Yet, their teaching the Constitution places them in the position of teaching a lie. How do we justify teaching all children that the framers of the Constitution planned for a document of not only American rights, but human rights. As we travel from the American Revolution learning of the wonderful provisions of the American Constitution, we are bombarded by the cruelty of slavery.
The denial of basic rights to African-Arericans was suppose to be remedied by the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution in the late 1800s. Yet Jim Crow negated those remedies. The late sixties saw a battle waged concerning the denial of basic human rights. The 1960s and the seventies ushered in new legislation which would do what the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendment could not. Afro-Americans rejoiced and hoped that white America would live up to the Constitutional guarantees. Afro-Americans thought certainly they would see the demise of racism in America’ s institutions. Upon examination of the institution we realize that the disease of racism is thriving well in the nineties.