Judith Armatta, January 19, 2012 (view all comments by Judith Armatta)
The New Jim Crow is a wake-up call to anyone who cares about racial justice and equality. Alexander uncovers the invisible Jim Crow system of mass incarceration (disproportionately of Black and Latino men) that replaced the old Jim Crow system of segregation. One in three black men aged 20 to 29 are under control of the criminal justice system. They constitute nearly half of the 2 million incarcerated citizens. Another 5 million people are on parole or probation. Alexander argues that "criminals" constitute a permanent underclass, facing lifelong discrimination in jobs, housing, public benefits, education, voting, etc. Alexander writes, "The stigma of criminality functions in much the same way that the stigma of race once did. It justifies a legal, social, and economic boundary between "us" and "them." Once that boundary is created, almost anything is sanctioned against the outcasts. In a call to awareness and action, Alexander reminds us of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s warning that "racial caste systems do not require racial hostility or overt bigotry to thrive. They need only racial indifference." If we don't heed the call we repeat the guilty acquiescence of past generations in slavery and Jim Crow segregation.
Sandra Miller, January 1, 2012 (view all comments by Sandra Miller)
If you want to believe that the war on drugs is working, if you think that everyone gets a fair deal under the law and you absolutely do not want to hear anything to the contrary, well, don't read this book. If you have a sense that something isn't right with our justice system, the privatization of our prisons, right up to the Supreme Court then get a group together and read this book, discuss what you've read, spread the word, and find out what you can do to stop the mass incarceration of people of color, especially men. Ms. Alexander has done her homework well and writes a compelling review of what is happening across our country, and in your neighborhood. You may not agree with each of her conclusions, but the hard facts alone will frighten you. I'd love to say this is a "good" read, but I can't. It is an important read.
Nancy L, May 29, 2011 (view all comments by Nancy L)
"The New Jim Crow" provides an explanation that absolutely rings true for problems I was aware of (the disproportionate number of African Americans in prison, and harsher sentences for "black" drugs vs. "white" drugs), but lacked an understanding of the underlying causes. The culture and the politics that created the the injustices African-Americans in the U.S. currently face are finely detailed here. Alexander explains clearly how the new racial caste system developed, how it works, and why it works. It is truly eye-opening.
Sandra Miller, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by Sandra Miller)
Favorite may not be the right word to use for my relationship to this book. Most important book I read this year would be a more apt description. I work with chronically street homeless men and women and read this to get a perspective I didn't have on some of the issues that contribute to their circumstances. What I got was an education about a level of injustice that astounded and disheartened me. I may not agree with all of Michelle Alexander's conclusions, but the indisputable facts she cites will give even the most hardened cynic real pause for thought. Read this book and find out what the Supreme Court has done in your name!
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The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
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"Publishers Weekly Review"
by Publishers Weekly,
"Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that '[w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.' Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as 'a system of social control' ('More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850'). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the 'war on drugs.' She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates 'who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits.' Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: 'most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration' — but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Alice Goffman brings us right into the streets of Philadelphia and into the homes of the small-time hustlers, their girlfriends, and families. She shows us, at the same time, the long and destructive reach of the criminal justice system into the urban worlds of the black neighborhood she immersed herself in for nearly a decade. We meet a handful of vivid characters, undergo with them their scrapes on the street and their encounters with violence there, and come to feel in our bones, as these ghetto residents do, what the constant threat of arrest and incarceration feels like at the gut level. Goffman takes us also to jails, hospitals, and courts, and shows us how to identify undercover cops (by haircuts, car models, language), and how to run and hide when theyre coming. The context is the 40-year federal War on Drugs and War on Crime, with their stronger sentencing guidelines and the ramping up of the number of police on the streets and number of arrests they make. The regime of policing involves high-tech surveillance, also the quotas the cops have to fulfill in making a given number of arrests, and what happens to you, the fugitive, when a warrant is issued (with addresses of all your associates, their homes subject to raids, making even hospitals and schools unsafe for people being tracked).
A provocative, lively deep-dive into the meaning of America’s first black president and first black presidency, from “one of the most graceful and lucid intellectuals writing on race and politics today” (Vanity Fair)
Once in a great while a book comes along that changes the way we see the world and helps to fuel a nationwide social movement. The New Jim Crow is such a book. Praised by Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier as "brave and bold," this book directly challenges the notion that the presidency of Barack Obama signals a new era of colorblindness. With dazzling candor, legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that "we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it." By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control—relegating millions to a permanent secondclass status—even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. In the words of Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, this book is a "call to action."
Called "stunning" by Pulitzer Prizewinning historian David Levering Lewis, "invaluable" by the Daily Kos, "explosive" by Kirkus, and "profoundly necessary" by the Miami Herald, The New Jim Crow is a mustread for all people of conscience.
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