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The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the…

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

by Michelle Alexander

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This audio book was longer than it needed to be. I almost quit after the first 2 disc because she wasn't saying anything interesting/new/different.

However eventually she did get to the point about how much racism there is even in folks that don't think they are racists, including blacks themselves. One example being a video game where folks needed to quickly identify thugs with guns vs. bystanders with other items, and it was like 9/10 times that a black person was the one shot incorrectly and 3/10 white folks which should have been shot where not.

It is very evident that Micheele Alexander is a black Democrat writing for black Democrats. As such I'm not sure how to judge her end use. If what she missed was based on her target audience, or actually failures of her writing.

She did make the correlation between poverty and incarceration, beyond race. She did note that in the "age of colorblindness" the only way the overtly racists can act is via the state. That individual racism is not tolerated. She did not make the conclusion that a free market would solve these problems, heck she didn't even go as far as to ask for a legalization of drugs.

All in all I think Alexander has a ways to go with her personal development of political philosophy. To an extent it challenged some of my preconceived notions, but not enough to truly make a difference. It’s still politicians looking for a way to exert power. ( )
  fulner | Jan 7, 2014 |
What a spectacular book. I was a bit skeptical of the title going in--it's a bit Godwin-esque to compare all racial injustices to slavery and/or Jim Crow. But she addresses that head-on, with a bit of skepticism on her own part. Having recently read The Warmth of Other Suns and seen some of the ways that Jim Crow actually played out in real life, though, I could certainly see the pervasive parallels that Alexander draws here.

America's prison system is incredibly racist in its implementation, that I knew. But what this book illuminates so well are the facts that (a) the system was transformed along racial lines in a discrete, systematic way and (2) the worst iniquities of our criminal justice system might actually be the lives we force felons into after prison. The concept of "civil death" underlies so many of our laws that pertain to convicted people, and it's all out of proportion to the petty crimes that most of them committed. Beyond which, it has broader implications for the black community that do, indeed, recall Jim Crow.

Finally, while the final chapter seemed a bit rushed, I did accept a lot of her prescription for where to go from here. It might seem contradictory to say that, on one hand, we can't pretend that the current system is equally harsh to all races, and on the other, that we have to address this in a manner that helps both racial minorities and whites. Her appeal to King's sense that it's time to move beyond civil rights and toward human rights is, I think, dead on. ( )
  spoko | Nov 14, 2013 |
A clear exposition of how structural racism works in contemporary America and an expose of the cynical creation of a drug crisis and the management of the War on Drugs. Everyone should read this book. ( )
  nmele | Sep 14, 2013 |
Reading for an upcoming @bwcumc podcast. I can only read so much at a time because I get mad reading it. :-( ( )
  Rtnrlfy | Jun 29, 2013 |
“The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander

Stunning. Shocking. Disturbing. The author very convincingly lays out a disturbing picture of our incarceration system. Some of the questions she asks are:
Why has the prison population increased four-fold between 1960 and 1990?
Why is our current incarceration rate 6-9 times that of other developed countries
Why do three out of four young African-American men end up in jail or prison at some point in their lives?
Why was the “War on Drugs” ramped up at a time when drug-related crime was actually decreasing?
Why has the “War on Drugs” been primarily waged in poor communities of color, when studies have shown that all races use and sell drugs at similar rates?
Why is sentencing for crack cocaine so disproportionate with sentencing for powder cocaine?
Why are local police departments given extra financial incentives to pursue drug crimes?
Why were local police departments given military equipment so that they could pursue drug crimes with military policing rather than community policing, even for the most minor of drug crimes?
When drug crime prisoners complete their sentences, they come out as second class citizens, no longer having the right to vote, serve on juries, and being able to be legally discriminated against in employment, housing, educations, benefits, virtually guaranteeing that their only income option would be drugs, if they come from the ghetto and return to the ghetto. Why, then are we shocked by recidivism?
Since the drug problem in the ghettos of inner cities did not begin until the factories closed and jobs left, why wasn’t the drug problem attacked by bringing jobs back to these places?
Why are non-violent drug issues/addictions, treated as crimes rather than health issues?

The questions go on and Michelle Alexander, an attorney, demonstrates through a look at history, court cases, including Supreme Court decisions, crime statistics, etc. that the targeting of communities of color is no accident but part of an intentional plan to create a new caste system aimed at creating, without using racialized language, a system of new “Jim Crow”-like restrictions, making poor communities of color second class and restricted to a “parallel” universe that allows very few options in life.
2 vote NCFChampaign | Jun 16, 2013 |
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West, CornelForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.

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