Deborah Small

The Christian Theocratic Agenda Imposed on the Bodies of America's Poor Women

In 1986 Margaret Atwood published The Handmaid’s Tale. The novel portrays a dystopian vision of the U.S. in the “near future”, a country transformed by religious extremists into a totalitarian theocracy, renamed the Republic of Gilead. It’s organizing principle – One Nation, Under One God. The new regime moves quickly to consolidate its power and reorganize society along a hierarchical, exclusively Christian regime of Old Testament-inspired social and religious conservatism.

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Guess Who Profits When You Can Throw Pregnant Women in Jail for Using Drugs?

Pregnancy holds a special space in most societies; it is a biological necessity for species preservation and represents the promise of future generations. Pregnancy is thought by many to bestow upon women an extra layer of societal protection and care. Social conventions dictate that pregnant women be given priority seating on buses, trains and other forms of transport and in lines for rest rooms and priority rescue during natural disasters. We believe ourselves to be solicitous and helpful to pregnant women and accord them an extra measure of respect.

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White America Is Oblivious to the Truth About Black Poverty

There’s been a fascinating debate over the past few weeks between Ta-Nehisi Coates from the Atlantic and New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait regarding the language President Obama employs in addressing African-American communities. Obama’s been criticized by Coates and other supporters for using rhetoric that reinforces the belief shared by many on the right, that personal initiative and hard work is sufficient to overcome the obstacles confronting many young black men despite the continued existence of institutional racism in education, employment, healthcare, criminal justice and civic participation (to name a few). 

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How Paul Ryan Is Bringing the Poverty Nightmare of Charles Dickens' Novels to America

“Please sir, I want some more…” it’s one of the most poignant pleas in literature, recognizable by generations of people around the world as the words spoken by a young and hungry Oliver Twist in Dickens’ famous novel of the same name. The story is about an orphan who endures a miserable existence in a workhouse and then placed with an undertaker. The story was Dickens’ protest against the English Poor Law of 1834, which dictated that the poor could no longer receive charity while residing in their homes, to receive any public charity or service, they would now have to enter a workhouse.

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Why We Should Be Suspicious of the Libertarian Right's Newfound Concern for Prison Reform

Like many criminal justice and drug policy reformers I have watched with great interest the growing bi-partisan support among elected officials for addressing ‘mass incarceration.’ Much of this new-found interest is due in part to Michelle Alexander’s well-received book, "The New Jim Crow," which elevated concerns about mass incarceration and its relationship to the ‘war on drugs’ in African American and liberal communities. Response to "The New Jim Crow" is part of a broad cultural shift in discussion of drugs and criminal justice policies, reflected in the popularity of shows like "Breaking Bad" and "Weeds," documentary films like "The House I Live In" and growing national acceptance of marijuana legalization. As someone who has spent the past 15 years advocating for reform of our criminal justice system and the end of punitive drug prohibition these developments should fill me with hope and optimism, instead I am filled with skepticism and great trepidation for the future.

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At What Age does a Black Male Become a Threat?

The following was originally published on JustUs Talking.

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