In this Essay, Professor Frank Rudy Cooper recenters the experiences of men of color, particularly those of black men, in light of Reagan's War on Drugs and recent scholarship illustrating the over-representation of men of color in prison for petty drug use. The mainstream's depiction of black men as always already imprisoned disciplines us into the never-finished quest to prove we are a "Good Black Man," rather than a "Bad Black Man." In order to propose greater empathy for black men's imprisonment, this article proceeds in the following manner. In Part I, Professor Cooper sets the stage for considering the impact of drug-war racial profiling on black men's senses of self and the identities attributed to them by summarizing the components of the circuit of identity. In Part II, he considers black men's attributed identities by demonstrating that drug-war racial profiling has naturalized the idea that black men deserve to be disproportionately imprisoned. He also argue that Rosin's "end of men" thesis suffers from this assumption and identifies a similar lack of empathy in Supreme Court jurisprudence on strip searches. In Part III, he explicates his theory of the bipolarity of black men's attributed identity in relation to hyper-incarceration. Professor Cooper concludes with some personal thoughts about black men's internalization of the possibility of imprisonment into our self-identities.
93 B.U. L. Rev. 1185 (2013).
Cooper, Frank Rudy, "We Are Always Already Imprisoned: Hyper-Incarceration and Black Male Identity Performance" (2013). Scholarly Works. 1116.