REVIEW: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

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“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.

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Sometimes we simply have to call a spade a spade and The New Jim Crow does exactly that in being bold in its argument about mass incarceration and how our criminal justice system is unfair to brown and black people. I don’t even know where to begin or even how to process all of the thoughts that are going through my brain right now. There was so much information presented in this book and each page was more fascinating than the previous one. I am thoroughly impressed that this is Alexander’s debut because it is concise, detailed, and very impactful. The New Jim Crow is necessary if we are ever going to have a brutally honest dialogue about race and if folks want to see in plain language with very specific reasons and examples of how minorities are held to a different standard when it comes to the justice system. After reading the final page, I closed the book and thought I want to do whatever I can to demand change when it comes to mass incarceration and criminal justice reform. And, I believe the “call to action” is the greatest gift given by The New Jim Crow. It makes you want to get off the sideline, educate yourself, and join the civil rights movement.

 

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Buy The New Jim Crow Here!

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