The New Jim Crow

The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Book - 2012 | Rev. ed
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This work argues that the War on Drugs and policies that deny convicted felons equal access to employment, housing, education, and public benefits create a permanent under caste based largely on race.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 them. In 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 U.S. 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.
Publisher: New York : New Press ; [Jackson, TN] : Distributed by Perseus Distribution, 2012
Edition: Rev. ed
ISBN: 9781595586438
Branch Call Number: 364.973 AL27n
Characteristics: xvii, 312 p. ; 24 cm


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May 28, 2021

One of the most important book about the current political situation in The United States.

Apr 04, 2021

Author constantly states that Jim Crow is very similar to incarceration resulting from the “War on Drugs”. However, they are not even closely the same.

Jim Crow applied to mostly all blacks, and some non-blacks. For the most part, individual blacks had ZERO control of the situation regarding segregation in education, housing, health care, jobs, interracial marriage, or voting. Jim Crow was unavoidable in those states.

War on Drug incarcerations applied equally to all races (although applied disparately) and individuals had TOTAL control to not break drug laws. Resulting felons, white or black, can't vote (in some states), obtain federal welfare benefits, or get certain jobs. Incarceration is totally avoidable by not selling illegal drugs.

The author blames all disparate statistics on race-ism. To her statistics are causality. Not once is individual personal responsibility mentioned as a cause of felony conviction.

For balance, I suggest reading Dr. Thomas Sowell’s book Black Rednecks and White Liberals.

Feb 15, 2021

Recommended by Karen

Oct 31, 2020

A horrifying description of the system of mass incarceration that has been created during our lifetimes. It is powerfully written, and I can understand why it is so heavily cited by more recent books on race. Still, it was a bit repetitive, covering the same ground over and over, and also left virtually no room for hope that we might solve this problem. The last chapter is quite different and offers an inciteful look at the challenges we face in the area of civil rights. If you can't make it through the first few chapters, the last one is worth skipping to.

Aug 22, 2020

312 pages

Aug 05, 2020

I would love to see this masterpiece adopted as our town book of the year to read. It would be a jumping off point for much needed discussion and understanding. It's not an easy read. It is dense with information and it is also heartbreaking but it is vitally important to see the thread woven from slavery to the present caste system we perpetuate in law.

JCLBetM Jul 06, 2020

Worth reading. While it's a hefty book crammed with too many details for me to adequately remember - I was able to hear and better understand the key thread of how arrests and prison sentences have gravely impacted the Black community. Very eye opening and I now have a healthy dose of skepticism about our justice system, which I hope will help me be more aware and ask better questions moving forward rather than blindly presuming everyone is being treated justly.

Jul 06, 2020

I got a little concerned when the first 10% of the book kept telling me what it was going to tell me. I was going "Just get on with it already." However, once the author got going, I found this book to be a really eye-opening account of just how the criminal justice system is set up to ensure people of color fail. I was extremely impressed with the the amount and quality of research done. I found it unbelievable how the Supreme Court, over the years, has consistently ruled that the judicial system cannot be challenged, especially by making both the 5th and 14th amendments totally unavailable to Black Americans. The number of arrests and length of jail terms for Black Americans vs. white Americans for drug use, especially when white Americans have been shown to use drugs just as often, was astonishing. Through reading this book, the author made a very convincing case that the War on Crime is really a war on Black Americans. I found it surprising that the Obama administration didn't do more to equalize things. When I consider all of the money spent to keep non-violent drug users off the streets, unemployed, under-housed, and unable to vote when there is such an explosion of violent crimes being committed, I think we all need to rise up and say that things need to change.
Like the author, I am not sure how to make things better when the entire justice system is so stacked against them. I just know we need to start somewhere.

VaughanPLDavidB Jul 05, 2020

This was, to me, a shocking revelation of the intention behind the "war on drugs" and mass incarceration. I naively thought it was an ill-conceived attempt to combat a problem that didn't actually exist, i.e. drug use, and the resulting harsh sentences for what on the surface, are seemingly minor offences. What the war on drugs actually is is a sophisticated means of controlling African-American young men in the wake of the explicitly racist Jim Crow system being dismantled. It was far more effective because it stripped all the explicitly racist elements out of Jim Crow, yet was able to maintain African Americans in a permanent second class status by labeling them felons and thus having an excuse for stripping them of all their rights as citizens, right down to something as fundamental as voting.

Jun 05, 2020

She keeps saying that if drug use is the same across the races, why do we have a disproportionate amount of people of color serving time for nonviolent drug charges? First of all, the laws in this country are for drug possession, not for drug use. Who's gonna be caught with more? The guys selling it, not the guys using it. So, let's look into the drug trade. I highly recommend watching the show Drugs, INC, and finding at least one documentary on a drug cartel. Most of the drugs in America are coming in from Mexico or Colombia. The cartels bring them across the border, and the gangs sell them on the streets. Females, Asians, and whites make up less than 5-15% of all gangs/cartels. So, the vast majority of the guys selling drugs are people of color. That's not racist, that's fact. When you look into it, you'll realize the nightmare violence associated with the drug trade. The cops target these poor neighborhoods of color because of the violence. People who are growing up there and trying to be good do NOT need to be told white people are subconsciously out to get them! They need all the help they can get!

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Oct 22, 2015

“Claims that mass incarceration is analogous to Jim Crow will fall on deaf ears and alienate potential allies if advocates fail to make clear that the claim is not meant to suggest or imply that supporters of the current system are racist in the way Americans have come to understand that term. Race plays a major role—indeed a defining role—in the current system but not because of what is commonly understood as old-fashioned, hostile bigotry.”


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