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The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness Jarvious Cotton S Great Great Grandfather Could Not Vote As A Slave His Great Grandfather Was Beaten To Death By The Klu Klux Klan For Attempting To Vote His Grandfather Was Prevented From Voting By Klan Intimidation His Father Was Barred By Poll Taxes And Literacy Tests Today, Cotton Cannot Vote Because He, Like Many Black Men In The United States, Has Been Labeled A Felon And Is Currently On Parole As The United States Celebrates The Nation S Triumph Over Race With The Election Of Barack Obama, The Majority Of Young Black Men In Major American Cities Are Locked Behind Bars Or Have Been Labeled Felons For Life Although Jim Crow Laws Have Been Wiped Off The Books, An Astounding Percentage Of The African American Community Remains Trapped In A Subordinate Status Much Like Their Grandparents Before ThemIn This Incisive Critique, Former Litigator Turned Legal Scholar Michelle Alexander Provocatively Argues That We Have Not Ended Racial Caste In America We Have Simply Redesigned It Alexander Shows That, By Targeting Black Men And Decimating Communities Of Color, The US Criminal Justice System Functions As A Contemporary System Of Racial Control, Even As It Formally Adheres To The Principle Of Color Blindness The New Jim Crow Challenges The Civil Rights Community And All Of Us To Place Mass Incarceration At The Forefront Of A New Movement For Racial Justice In America


About the Author: Michelle Alexander

Michelle Alexander is an associate professor of law at The Ohio State University, a civil rights advocate and a writer.



10 thoughts on “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

  1. says:

    In February of 2016, a powerful article appeared in The Nation Why Hillary Clinton Doesn t Deserve the Black Vote The name of its author Michelle Alexander struck me as familiar Then I realized she was the Ohio State law professor who had caused some stir five years ago with her book The New Jim Crow, a book which


  2. says:

    The New Jim Crow Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander will pick up your everyday white liberal guilt, tie it in knots, and leave you wondering how you could have ever been so simple minded as to think colorblindness was benign, let alone desirable While the War on Drugs, hopped up on fe


  3. says:

    1988 English 201 I was a college freshman, required to write a paper about fads vs trends For reasons I cannot recall, I chose to write about the War on Drugs I can t recall anything about the paper, either, though I can still see the This Is Your Brain On Drugs commercial that was rolled out in 1987 by the Partnership for a Drug Free America Washington D C was embroiled in the Iran Contra Affair It was an election year Perestroika had just begun rolling off western tongues Benazir Bhutto was named Prime Minister of Pakistan I was eighteen and although I knew all about apartheid in South Africa, and stood in line to see Mississippi Burning when it was released late that year, I had been raised in nearly all white communities in rural Washington state The notion that the War on Drugs was at the heart of a stunningly comprehensive and well disguised system of racialized social control that functions in a manner strikingly similar to Jim Crow p 4 would have been beyond my limited understanding of race in these United States.Michelle Alexander s The New Jim Crow Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness is stunning The racialized social control she writes of in the introduction is quite simple to state, but devastating in complexity the United States, since the dismantling of Jim Crow began in the mid 1940s, has sought to maintain the social dominance of its white population by the systematic mass incarceration of people of color, primarily young black men You can t believe that so radical a policy, carried out on a massive scale that requires the collusion of each branch of government, not to mention the FBI, CIA, and local law enforcement, is possible Don t take my word for it Read Alexander s painstakingly documented book Follow up her statements with research of your own sadly, it s very easy to connect the dots, all the way back to the start of slavery in the Colonies, long before the Federation was formed, long before the Constitution of the United States declared that slaves were defined as three fifths of a man I could provide you the litany of statistical evidence Alexander lays out, but it s hard to know where to start or where to stop The data are here the numbers are real, and they are soul crushing I challenge you to read this and learn for yourself What makes this book so compelling, however, is Alexander s ability to put human faces in front of the statistics, to show us that our shared history has neither a shared interpretation nor shared consequences Alexander effectively repeats and summarizes the concepts on a regular basis, which is a welcome relief, because so much of this information is hard to process I expended much energy in rage and frustration of how this system came to be and is allowed to continue that I needed the frequent re focus About two thirds of the way in, she offers this summation This, in brief, is how the system works The War on Drugs is the vehicle through which extraordinary numbers of black men are forced into the cage The entrapment occurs in three distinct phases The first stage is the roundup Vast numbers of people are swept into the criminal justice system by the police, who conduct drug operations primarily in poor communities of color The conviction marks the beginning of the second phase the period of formal control Once arrested, defendants are generally denied meaningful legal representation and pressured to plead guilty whether they are or not The final stage has been dubbed by some advocates as the period of invisible punishment a form of punishment that operates largely outside of public view and takes effect outside the traditional sentencing framework and collectively ensures that the offenders will never integrate into mainstream, white society One of the most thought provoking issues raised in The New Jim Crow is the concept of colorblindness, and how Martin Luther King s call to create a society where people are not judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character has been badly distorted by politicians in their attempts to dismantle affirmative action and anti poverty programs Recognition of this distortion is not new, of course, but it s been skillfully employed in the mass incarceration movement by those who don t want to appear racist As Alexander states In the era of colorblindness, it is no longer socially permissible to use race, explicitly, as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt So we don t Rather than rely on race, we use our criminal justice system to label people of color criminals and then engage in all the practices we supposedly left behind Today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against criminals in nearly all the ways that it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans Once you re labeled a felon, the old forms of discrimination employment discrimination, housing discrimination, denial of the right to vote, denial of educational opportunity, denial of food stamps and other public benefits, and exclusion from jury service are suddenly legal As a criminal, you have scarcely rights, and arguably less respect, than a black man living in Alabama at the height of Jim Crow We have not ended racial caste in America we have merely redesigned it Martin Luther King, Jr fought for a society where people were not judged by the color of their skin He never called for the color of their skin to be ignored.Michelle Alexander states in the opening sentence that This book is not for everyone I have a specific audience in mind people who care deeply about racial justice but who, for any number of reasons, do not yet appreciate the magnitude faced by communities of color as a result of mass incarceration and those who have been struggling to persuade their friends, neighbors, relatives, teachers, co workers, or political representatives but who have lacked the facts and data to back up their claims Last, but definitely not least, I am writing this book for all those trapped within America s latest caste system You may be locked up our lock out of mainstream society, but you are not forgotten So it s natural to end such a bleak assessment of race in America with the question, what can be done Michelle Alexander addresses this extensively, including taking the traditional civil rights organizations to task for turning their backs on the long standing issue of mass incarceration of black and brown Americans As a white woman living again in predominantly white, rural Washington state, I despair at my ability to contribute anything useful to the dialogue, much less to be an agent of change I accept I ll be branded an SJW fine by me and shout mostly to a choir of my own peers But I know, after reading what Michelle Alexander wrote in her preface, that this book is for me I am the audience she had in mind She also states in the introduction that A new social consensus must be forged about race and the role of race in defining the basic structure of our society, if we ever hope to abolish the New Jim Crow The new consensus must begin with dialogue, a conversation that fosters critical consciousness, a key prerequisite to effective social action After Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, MO last August, and the Black Lives Matter campaign spread across social media, I vowed to listen, read, and better educate myself about racial injustices, as well as hold myself accountable for on my own assumptions and prejudices The New Jim Crow makes me uncomfortable it makes me angry, ashamed, fearful, and determined Determined never to be so blind again.


  4. says:

    When the United States now has a prison population of nearly the same size and proportion as Stalinist Russia during the Great Purges, you know there s something deeply wrong with this country We have 760 per 100,000, the Soviets had 800 1.6 million people out of 300 million are in prison today in America The Gulag held 1.7 million


  5. says:

    Criminal PurposeIntention is not the equivalent of purpose neither for individuals nor for societies Intention is mental and ephemeral, an idea before the fact which is part of a complex of other ideas, many of which may be contrary or contradictory Intention is expressed in what we say about what we want Purpose is the behavioral result


  6. says:

    I grew up in Chicago so I am well aware of how race can divide a city I ve lived it, seen it, the good and the bad There are no problems harder to solve then sociological ones One can mandate changes, change the laws, make and things people say and do illegal, but..it doesn t change the way they think, change their long held beliefs, inborn


  7. says:

    No, black people aren t the majority in our American prisons because they re likely to commit crimes They re there because the War on Drugs has been applied to them frequently than any other racial group Give a damn, people Read this book and stop lying to yourselves.


  8. says:

    The New Jim Crow is essential reading for Americans who don t or haven t followed these issues closely over the last 30 years It s a well organized, thoughtful, accessible read neither too light or too cluttered with footnotes If you have followed the reasons for and impacts of the US approach to incarceration on the African American community and be hone


  9. says:

    It is Michelle Alexander s experience as a lawyer which makes this such a successful piece It is not novelty that makes this book so profound, but the authority upon which the argument is made simple statistics and inarguable facts In the very beginning, Mrs Alexander states for whom this book was written people who have a hard time convincing friends, neighbor


  10. says:

    5 stars for in depth, persuasive and eye opening analysis of complex and important issues In The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander argues that the war on drugs and its consequent incarceration of a disproportionate number of black American men amounts to a new form of racialized social control akin to the Jim Crow laws She does an extraordinary job reviewing history,


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