Khiara M. Bridges (born 1978/1979) is an American law professor and anthropologist specializing in the intersectionality of race, reproductive justice, and law. She is best known for her book, Reproducing Race: An Ethnography of Pregnancy as a Site of Racialization.


  • Police brutality against people of color is a spectacular form of the racial violence that our nation’s criminal-justice system inflicts every day. If we back up, we will see that the police encounter that led to Floyd’s death takes place within a larger context of mass incarceration. Presently, there are 2.3 million people housed in the country’s prisons, jails and other criminal-justice facilities. By most measures, this number is remarkable. It means that the U.S. has the largest prison population in the world. China comes in second, imprisoning 1.7 million people–over half a million fewer people than the U.S., in a country of 1.4 billion. The U.S. number translates to the imprisonment of 698 people for every 100,000. This rate dwarfs the incarceration rates of the countries that the U.S. usually thinks of as its peers. Indeed, the rate at which the U.S. incarcerates its population is roughly six times the highest rate of incarceration among Western European nations. While these numbers, in and of themselves, might be disconcerting, they become even more disturbing when we consider the racial geography of the U.S.’s prison population: people of color, particularly black people, are disproportionately represented among those who are incarcerated. While black people constitute 12% of the U.S. population, they constitute 33% of the prison population. Thus, black people are dramatically overrepresented in the country’s prisons and jails. Meanwhile, white people make up 64% of the U.S. population, but they make up just 30% of the prison population.
  • Mass incarceration means that this country approaches its problems through the criminal-justice system. When faced with a social ill, our nation responds by building more prisons and jails. Because incarceration is the tool that we use to address societal problems, we have erected few limitations on the police’s ability to keep the social order. Police can stop whomever they want to stop whenever they want to stop them. They can investigate things that have no relation to the reason for the stop. They can use force. They can kill. [...] The criminal-justice system evidences the way a society that should care for and protect its people instead leaves black people susceptible to harm and with little control over their well-being. It does so through the tragically high numbers of black people who are in prisons and jails, in the disproportionate rates of incarceration of black people, in the violence of the tactics that governments have used to police communities of color, in the frequency with which black people’s encounters with the police end in death and in the infrequency with which police officers are indicted and convicted for killing black people. Proof of this country’s racial hierarchy is everywhere. May we dismantle it in all its cruel, life-ending forms.
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