17 Conclusion: Turning Knowledge into Action

Through the analysis of historical trends, sociological theory, empirical data, ethnography, and literary accounts, it becomes clear that mass incarceration is the latest method of racial capitalism’s quest to amass profit through the establishment of racial hierarchy and the control of racialized bodies. It is vital to recognize the intentional construction of the racial order in the United States–through prisons, policing, and legacies of slavery and Jim Crow–in order to confront the systems of power that do violence unto entire populations of people.

Examining the stories of H and Fonny alongside both qualitative and quantitative data within the context of racial capitalism and its history in United States allows us to understand the racialized mechanisms of mass incarceration–how it came to be, its purpose, the larger systems it feeds into, and its implications in the lives of those it oppresses. It is now apparent that the disproportionate imprisonment of Black and Brown people in the United States happens not because there is anything innately “criminal” about people of color–rather, they are criminalized in the interest of creating a racial underclass that can be controlled and exploited for labor.

For many years, scholars of diverse disciplines have been in conversation with each other around the larger topic of racial capitalism–conversations I have dissected throughout my paper. In analyzing mass incarceration through these different disciplines, its role in creating racial hierarchy is clear. With this information, this onus falls on us as a society to systematically confront not only mass incarceration, but the system of racial capitalism that it perpetuates. This should happen on every scale, from the political to the personal. As Angela Davis once said, “You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.” The movement against racial oppression in the United States did not end with the abolition of chattel slavery; movements to abolish the prison-industrial complex continue to push for change across the nation. Solidarity with these movements is essential, and as the literature has revealed, to change these oppressive systems will require a widespread overhaul of American societal structures.



Power: Origins, Instances, and Protest Copyright © by Candy Lucero-Sanchez; Leah Rivera; Leslie Paz; and Liam Madigan. All Rights Reserved.

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