The Racist Origins of U.S. Law

From Origin Of Everything.

Laws are intended to maintain order and promote justice, but what happens when those laws promote and spread discrimination and bigotry? Today Danielle analyzes the discriminatory history US law, tracing its origins in colonialism and chattel slavery up through the Jim Crow era and today’s mass incarceration.

Special thanks to our Historians Harry Brisson and
Melanie-Antonietta Brown and Archivist Rachel Brice on Patreon!
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Created and Hosted by Danielle Bainbridge
Produced by Complexly for PBS Digital Studios


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Origin of Everything is a show about the undertold histories and cultural dialogues that make up our collective story. From the food we eat, to the trivia and fun facts we can’t seem to get out of our heads, to the social issues we can’t stop debating, everything around us has a history. Origin of Everything is here to explore it all. We like to think that no topic is too small or too challenging to get started.

Works Cited:

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness Michelle Alexander
Queer (In)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States by Andrea Ritchie, Joey L. Mogul, and Kay Whitlock
Race, Gender and Punishment: From Colonialism to the War on Terror ed. Mary Bosworth and Jeanne Flavin
Chapter 1: “Situating Colonialism, Race, and Punishment.” Geeta Chowdhry and Mark Beeman
Chapter 11: “Latina Imprisonment and the War on Drugs” Juanita Diaz-Cotto
Class, race, gender and crime: The social realities of justice in America Gregg Barak
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/25/opinion/race-wage-gap.html?searchResultPosition=8
Thinking about Crime: Sense and Sensibility in American Penal Culture Michael Tonry
Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina 1896-1920 Glenda Gilmore
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America Richard Rothstein
Arresting Citizenship: The Democratic Consequences of American Crime Control Vesla Weaver and Amy E. Lerman
Culture and Imperialism Edward Said
The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow (PBS Documentary)
https://www.thirteen.org/wnet/jimcrow/about.html
Mary Ellen Curtis Black Prisoners and Their World, Alabama, 1865-1900
Angela Davis Are Prisons Obsolete?
https://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/15/opinion/15thu3.html#:~:text=In%20what’s%20known%20as%20the,weight%20of%20a%20candy%20bar.&text=Congress%20compounded%20the%20inequity%20by,even%20for%20first%2Dtime%20offenders.
https://www.aclu.org/issues/criminal-law-reform/drug-law-reform/fair-sentencing-act
https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045219
America’s Enduring Caste System https://nyti.ms/2CZ8PHF
https://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/color-of-justice-racial-and-ethnic-disparity-in-state-prisons/#IV.%20Drivers%20of%20Disparity