Mass Incarceration: An Analysis of the Intersectionality of Oppressions and Its Effect on the African American Female during the War on Drugs, 1985-1991

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Bryant, Erica R
mass incarceration; African American; African American female; War on Drugs; Anti-Drug Abuse Act; black feminist theory
thesis / dissertation description
Due to increased punitive policies and enforcement, minority men and women have been disproportionately arrested and imprisoned for extensive prison terms. Moreover, a large number of African American women were incarcerated at the height of the of President Ronald Regan’s initiation of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. This study uses critical works and theories that deal with Afrocentricity, feminism, intersectionality of oppressions, and mass incarceration to examine the plight of the African American female. Based on the historical “othering” of the African American female, stereotypes have been created that continue to contribute to her oppression. The stereotyping of the Back female as a crack addict allowed for the projection of her as a threat to herself, her children, and community. Second, an analysis of the policies and procedures under Regan’s act targeting the drug crack cocaine in conjunction with the intersectionality of oppressions showed that although African American women used drugs at approximately the same rate as women of other ethnicities, they were often targeted, arrested, and imprisoned more that those women. Finally, this study examines the issue of mass incarceration of the African American female through a comparison of New York and Oklahoma’s female imprisonment records. This analysis shows that African American have been arrested and prosecuted at higher number than their white counterparts.