"What is completely missed in the rare public debates today about the plight of African Americans is that a huge percentage of them are not free to move up at all.
It is not just that they lack opportunity, attend poor schools, or are plagued with poverty. They are barred by law from doing so. And the major institutions with which they come into contact are designed to prevent their mobility.
To put the matter starkly: The current system of control permanently locks a huge percentage of the African American community out of the mainstream society and economy.
The system operates through our criminal justice institutions, but it functions more like a caste system than a system of crime control.
Viewed from this perspective, the so-called underclass is better understood as an undercaste - a lower caste of individuals who are permanently barred by law and custom from mainstream society.
Although this new system of racialized social control purports to be color blind, it creates and maintains racial hierarchy much as earlier systems of control did" (Alexander, 2012, p. 13).