The United States’ unprecedented expansion of imprisonment since the late 1970s has disproportionately affected African Americans, intensifying inequality and transforming the very meaning of race. Understanding the dynamics of criminal punishment is now essential for teaching about race. This chapter describes a common epistemological obstacle students encounter as they study the relationship between race and imprisonment - the “logic of the trial." As they assign blame to the “culture” of the “underclass” or to “racist actors” in the legal system, students do not see the historically rooted, systemic nature of racial domination in American punishment. We propose three related strategies for getting “beyond the trial” and deepening students’ understanding of race in an era of mass incarceration. These strategies can help students transcend individual-level analysis and wrestle with the extensive, complex sociological factors that explain the causes and consequences of the hyper-incarceration of African Americans.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Title of host publication||Teaching Race and Anti-Racism in Contemporary America|
|Subtitle of host publication||Adding Context to Colorblindness|
|Number of pages||7|
|State||Published - Jan 1 2014|