To the Editor:

When considering acts of racism, it is hard for many to understand where this hate comes from. Yet, we must understand this: our whole country is based on institutionalized racism. In the days of direct slavery, African Americans were sentenced to a lifetime of harsh labor, and today, they are sentenced to jail time. This is why I'm writing today, to bring awareness to the issue of racism within American incarceration rates.

Just a simple search online will show just how unjust our justice system is. The system meant to protect the people of our nation is a racist system. Our so called "blind justice", could not be less blind. During an interview with GlobalResearch, Centre for Research on Globalization, Michelle Alexander, a law school professor who directed Stanford Law School’s Civil Rights Clinic and served as law clerk for Justice Harry Blackmun at the U. S. Supreme Court noted that: "Primarily because of these significant incarceration rates, the level of black youth poverty is higher today than it was in 1968. An African-American male is sentenced an average of a 20 to 50 times longer prison term then a white male convicted of the same drug crime. [...] Seventy percent of all men imprisoned are black or Hispanic."

A new study published by Robynn J.A. Cox, assistant professor of economics at Spelman College, showed that in 2001, a black male had a 32.2% chance of going to state or federal prison in their lifetime, while only 5.9% of white men had the likelihood of spending time in prison. Black females had a 5.6% chance, while white females only had a 0.9% likelihood.

Now, of course, many would question if they were truly being unfairly incarcerated because of their race, or they're just committing more crimes. Let me answer that for you. According to the same study, Cox concluded that in 2009, 21.2% of white high school seniors used marijuana, while the amount of black high school seniors who used marijuana clocked in below that, at 20.6%. Cocaine use for white high school seniors was 1.2%, and 0% for black high school seniors.

So how do we solve this problem of racism in our justice system? I don't know an exact answer to that. When a problem has been going on for nearly 400 years, there's no simple solution. Institutionalized racism is so deeply weaved into our nation that there is no way to easily expel of it. However, I do know the first step towards changing this. That step is simple: becoming aware of the problem. Racism is a social issue that comes down to the individual. When any one person turns a blind eye to the problem, the nation as a whole allows the problem to continue. We have a problem with racism in our justice system, there is no more denying it, and it's time to make a change.

Alison Gentry

Fairfield