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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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The is a huge, towering accomplishment. well reason, supported by meticulous evidence, this is A VERY IMPORTANT BOOK. ( )
  nnschiller | Sep 18, 2014 |
In a way it is too bad the author aligned the book so closely to Jim Crow and brought the argument forward only in terms of racism. The argument really should have less to do with racism than with poverty and a lack of hope.

Yes, more blacks are in jail than other races, especially considering the racial makeup in America. Yes, the prison and policing systems are money making engines. Yes, the war on drugs is a lost cause. And, yes, probably, it was all sculpted to be the way it is.

But that doesn't change the fact that it is the abject poverty and lack of hope or opportunities that is the source of the problem. Born poor and inner city, raised on the streets, attending sub-standard schools, not having any realistic hope of ever pulling yourself or your family out of it... that is the problem. If people had hope and opportunity, they would not turn to drugs or crime, and they would not get a criminal record which further condemns them to a life of poverty.

Changing post-prison reception or perception is not the solution. Crushing the process that impoverishes entire segments of the popluation is the solution. End the abject poverty, show some light at the end of the tunnel, and millions of boys turning to men will not be committing crimes simply to survive. ( )
  crazybatcow | Aug 20, 2014 |
UUA Common Read
  rruucbookstore | Jul 2, 2014 |
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 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michelle Alexanderprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chilton, KarenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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