See: A Brief History of the Mass Incarceration of Black Americans

One in every three African American men will be sent to prison in their lifetime.

^ In this video, Ta-Nehisi Coates discusses how so many black Americans get trapped behind bars.

Earlier this week, The Atlantic published an extensive, detailed, and compelling article in nine chapters by Ta-Nehisi Coates, outlining the historical relationship between the US criminal justice system and black Americans.

“The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration” examines the effects of the 1965 report “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” traces the history of our racist criminal justice system, and shows how that system shapes the lives of black people across the county.

In the video above, Coates explains that throughout history, the US has dealt with social issues like unemployment and mental illness in African American communities primarily through criminalization.

“Are we all right with black people being in the position that they are in our society?” asks Coates. And if your answer is no, what do we do next?

Liz Pleasant’s post first appeared in YES! Magazine.

By Liz Pleasant

Liz Pleasant is an assistant web editor at YES! Magazine.