A House with no Key

The source of media that I chose to watch was a documentary named The House I Live In. This documentary does a great job of captivating the viewer by exploring the gritty depths of what lies within the “War on Drugs.” Police officers, prison authorities, judges, journalists, politicians, inmates and families provide a vivid account as to what they endured during these rough and rigid times of America. The documentary emerged under the intellect of Eugene Jarecki, who eventually would win the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012. What truly made this documentary intriguing is the abundance of viewpoints shared from so many different people, including Eugene Jarecki. A recurring key point that stood out to me while watching this documentary was the constant mention of the drug policy being fueled by economics. This is extremely similar to what we are currently reading in Policing the Black Man, regarding the oppression of minority groups in America (Davis, 2018). This documentary mentioned the policy that was created in the West Coast to criminalize opium smoking, which was heavily experimented within the Chinese culture. They decided to proceed with criminalization as a way to vacate the Chinese people out of hard-working jobs, in order to create work for the white men. This was also a recurring theme for African Americans, who would eventually be titled as a race who abused cocaine and hemp more than anyone else.

This film expanded greatly on what we have learned in class from the beginning. In class we discussed and expanded on the concept of discrimination. We learned that extralegal factors included race, ethnicity, gender, social class, and one’s lifestyle. This documentary clearly expanded on this concept since it gave the viewers the truth of how the “War on Drugs” was legitimately built on the theme of discrimination, and how it seemed to roll out when it first emerged in 1971. In class, when we were first assigned to read the first chapter of Policing the Black Man, we related the key points within the chapter to conflict theory. The concept of white supremacy was perhaps the biggest takeaway from Stevenson’s (2018) essay. Within the book, Stevenson (2018) states, “Advocates of slavery argued that science and religion supported the fact of whites’ racial superiority: white people were smart, hardworking, and more intellectually and morally evolved, while black people were dumb, lazy, childlike, and in need of guidance and supervision.” (p, 7.) The documentary specifically relates to what this quotation from Stevenson (2018) provides because The House I Live In references so many concepts similar to what white supremacy was built on. This was the fact that a minority group was suffering and being wronged because the opposing race did not see eye to eye with what was moral, and what was equality.

Personally, this documentary provided me with an extensive amount of knowledge regarding a topic that I truly never fully explored, which was the shameful evolution of discrimination and racism that emerged in our society hundreds of years ago. I’m truly not educated fully on the matter enough to develop a final perception or analysis, but sources of information that share multiple sides of a matter such as The House I Live In and Policing the Black Man solidify my belief that someday I will better understand these matters in our society. I would recommend this source of media to anyone with an interest in realism and human nature because it’s not gimmicky or dolled up. This documentary won an award for a reason, it immediately captivates you by its visuals and its gritty context which makes you truly imagine living in times like what is portrayed. If I were to formulate a question based on this documentary and specifically the matter of mass incarceration is what it eventually took society to evolve the concept of incarceration. Fast forward to today, and although still flawed, rehabilitation exists, and it’s being practiced more than what it was years ago.   I chose the name of my title A House with no Key because it seems that there’s never a perfect answer for any imposed question, especially one that continues to evolve as time moves on.

Davis, A. J. (2018). Policing the Black man: arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment. Vintage Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

Stevenson, B. (2018). A presumption of guilt: The legacy of America’s history of racial injustice. In A. J. Davis, Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution, and Imprisonment (pp. 3-20). Vintage Books.


One thought on “A House with no Key

  1. Honestly this discussion gave me a feeling back to when people used to think that white people are the superior race before the MLK era and that they were better than everyone. But it took how long to get better with having even rights between races. I couldn’t imagine living in such a cruel world being judged for what kind of race you were.

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