Racism, Rodeos, and the Misery Industries of Louisiana

Racism is a multilevel and multidimensional system whereby minority groups are oppressed and scapegoated by the dominant group. Claims that America has become a post-racial society notwithstanding, manifestations of racism are all around us, especiallyin the state of Louisiana. Louisiana is home to some of the poorest, and the leasteducated citizens in the nation. The state is also the site of one of the country’s mostnotorious prisons. Angola, a former—and present penal—plantation, is a majority black prison where the inmate ‘rodeo’ provides annual entertainment for largely whiteaudiences and hundreds of thousands of dollars to supplement services for prisoners thatcould arguably be paid for in less dehumanizing ways. White racial frame is a useful paradigm for understanding the linkages between mass incarceration, the exploitation ofthe Black body, the miseducation of Black youth, as well as the persistent racialeconomic inequality in Louisiana and in US society as a whole. We extend the idea of white racial frame further by introducing a concept we call “bridges to benefits”. Bridges to benefits are networks of white privilege, which flow between institutions, such as education, the economy, and the law, which involve capitalizing on the misery of Blacks while simultaneously protecting white supremacy.