Race, Class, and Prisoners

Books for Race, Class, Prisoners, Dec 2021

The Reverend Doctors Ronald Burris and Aidsand Wright-Riggins were our professors for a Berkeley School of Theology Fall 2021 doctoral class called “Racism in America.” My final paper was “Race, Class, and Prisoners.” The paper starts:

“In How to Fight Racism, Jemar Tisby writes, “White supremacy is the belief or assumption that white people and their culture are inherently superior to other people and cultures.” I said in our class discussion of Tisby that understanding white supremacy and its associated racism in the United States is incomplete without also considering class and classism. In this paper, I expand my argument that class is a key factor in racism to include why people of color are imprisoned disproportionally. In support of this, I consider historical, literary, and academic sources as well as my personal experience as a jail chaplain in Santa Clara County.

In researching this topic, I found that race and class were conflated in most analyses, and that usually only race was addressed. Sometimes it seemed as though class and classism were invisible. For example, historian Tyler Stovall, whom I quote on race and class below, has racism in his Index but not class or classism, even though both are extensively discussed. Publications where race and class were considered individually came from many academic disciplines, including anthropology, economics, education, history, sociology and literary analysis. I begin with definitions of class and race.”

You can read the whole paper here.

Note: there is a typo on page eight of the paper: I have been a volunteer jail chaplain with the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy since 2015 (not 2005).

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1 Comment

Filed under Chaplain, News & Reviews

One response to “Race, Class, and Prisoners

  1. tedfpeters

    Like you, Katy, I’ve found that many discussions of racism simply fail to distinguish race and class. This tends to reinforce stereotypes. Ugh.

    Some years ago we had James Cone come to PLTS/GTU to lecture. He stressed this distinction. His vocabulary was this: every “class analysis” must be accompanied by a “race analysis.”


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