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

( 95 )

Overview


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

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Overview


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 election 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 second-class 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 Prize–winning historian David Levering Lewis, "invaluable" by the Daily Kos, "explosive" by Kirkus, and "profoundly necessary" by the Miami Herald, this updated and revised paperback edition of The New Jim Crow, now with a foreword by Cornel West, is a must-read for all people of conscience.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Devastating. . . . Alexander does a fine job of truth-telling, pointing a finger where it rightly should be pointed: at all of us, liberal and conservative, white and black.
Forbes

Alexander is absolutely right to fight for what she describes as a “much-needed conversation” about the wide-ranging social costs and divisive racial impact of our
criminal-justice policies.
Newsweek

Invaluable . . . a timely and stunning guide to the labyrinth of propaganda, discrimination, and racist policies masquerading under other names that comprises what we call justice in America.
Daily Kos

Many critics have cast doubt on the proclamations of racism’s erasure in the Obama era, but few have presented a case as powerful as Alexander’s.
In These Times

Carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable.
Publishers Weekly

[Written] with rare clarity, depth, and candor.
Counterpunch

A call to action for everyone concerned with racial justice and an important tool for anyone concerned with understanding and dismantling this oppressive system.
Sojourners

Undoubtedly the most important book published in this century about the U.S.
Birmingham News

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. (Feb.)
Kirkus Reviews
A civil-rights lawyer's disturbing view of why young black men make up the majority of the more than two million people now in America's prisons. In this explosive debut, Alexander (Law/Moritz College of Law and the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity) argues that the imprisonment of unusually large numbers of young blacks and Latinos-most harshly sentenced for possession or sale of illegal drugs, mainly marijuana-constitutes "a stunningly comprehensive and well-designed system of racialized social control." The "warehousing" of inner-city youths, she writes, is a new form of Jim Crow under which drug offenders-in jail or prison, on probation or parole-are denied employment, housing, education and public benefits; face a lifetime of shame; and rarely successfully integrate into mainstream society. The author blames the situation mainly on the War on Drugs, begun by Ronald Reagan in 1982, which grew out of demands for "law and order" that were actually a racially coded backlash to the civil-rights movement. The situation continues because of racial indifference, not racial bias, she writes. Many will dismiss the author's assertions; others will find her observations persuasive enough to give pause. Most people who use or sell illegal drugs are white, but in many states 90 percent of those admitted to prison for drug offenses are black or Latino. Police departments, given financial incentives-cash grants and the right to keep confiscated cash and assets from drug raids-to focus on drug enforcement, find it easier to send SWAT teams into poor neighborhoods, where they will face less political backlash, than into gated communities and college frat houses. Also, most people donot care what happens to drug criminals, feeling that "they get what they deserve." So what's to be done? Alexander writes that civil-rights leaders, reluctant to advocate for criminals, remain quiet on the issue; President Obama, an admitted former user of illegal drugs, is not in a position to offer leadership; and policymakers offer only piecemeal reforms. She hopes a new grassroots movement will foster frank discussion about race, cultivate an ethic of compassion for all and end the drug war and mass incarceration. Alarming, provocative and convincing.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781595586438
  • Publisher: New Press, The
  • Publication date: 1/16/2012
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 590
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Michelle Alexander is an associate professor of law at Ohio State University and holds a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity. Formerly the director of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Project in Northern California, Alexander served as a law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun. Cornel West is the Class of 1943 University Professor at Princeton University.
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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Ch. 1 The Rebirth of Caste 20

Ch. 2 The Lockdown 58

Ch. 3 The Color of Justice 95

Ch. 4 The Cruel Hand 137

Ch. 5 The New Jim Crow 173

Ch. 6 The Fire This Time 209

Notes 249

Index 281

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 95 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(63)

4 Star

(15)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

(1)

1 Star

(8)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 95 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 21, 2011

    AMAZING.. everyone should read this book!!!!!!

    this book is absolutely brilliant. Alexander writes very well, so it's an easy read despite its heavy content. This book provides a compelling case for her assertion that the criminal justice system's overtly discriminatory practices have successfully contributed to undercaste in today's society. It starts a bit slow as I was wondering how she was going to prove her claims, but once you get a little farther in you're hooked! The evidence is APPALLING! It felt like I was reading about the USSR's justice system rather than America's! If white Americans were treated in this insane way, these policies would've been reversed years ago. It is an eye-opening read, especially for someone who is white and not intimately knowledgeable about the US criminal justice system. Highly recommended!!!

    13 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 23, 2012

    I think the most important part that she left out was parental g

    I think the most important part that she left out was parental guidance. If you know how the criminal justice system operates toward our black males, then as a parent, no matter what your financial background is it important that our youth is taught not to engage in criminal activity. If you do the crime you are going to do the time!

    12 out of 32 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Physical, Mental, & Emotional Lock-down.

    The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander (2010)
    *Thought provoking.
    *Informative.
    *Well-developed.
    *Enlightening & educational.
    *Well researched with plenty of references.
    *Gives the reader a history of the "criminal justice system" as a way to control certain ethnic and cultural groups. *The 4th amendment right is explained.
    *Offers insight to a system that affects and effects each and every person living in America.
    *Well worth reading to make you knowledgeable about the topic discussed.

    10 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 14, 2012

    While any thoughtful person will admit that racism exists in the

    While any thoughtful person will admit that racism exists in the USA, most still will be shocked by the extent that it's supported, spread and encouraged by government agencies at all levels. This is primarily through the official justice system and enhanced by federal funding and the media, over the past few decades manipulated and fused to a non-issue made into a bugaboo for political ends, the War on Drugs. The author has thoroughly researched and makes a titanium-strength case about this indefensible condition, supported at nearly every turn by the legal system and ignored by our elected and appointed officials. This book should serve as a call to arms for all people who despise the waste of human skills and potential or who have a repugnance against injustice.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 5, 2010

    The New Jim Crow

    I can't believe someone was brave enough to write this. The only problem is with the title. The word Genoicide should be in there somewhere. Call it what it REALLY is.

    8 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2012

    Very interesting, a little repetitive

    Alexander makes a great argument here about the criminal justice system perpetuating a new caste system with criminals at the bottom. She does make repeat some points over and again, could have been shorter. Overall recommend it.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 26, 2010

    A New Paradigm

    Alexander does a masterful job at taking the reader through the history of caste in the US. She then offers a plausible solution, although certanly not an easy one, to the problem. This book should be read by anyone currently affected by drugs and incarceration and by politicans seeking a solution to the problem of exploding deficits and the expense of mass incarceration.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 29, 2013

    Fantastic. Powerful. A must-read.

    I wish this book were required reading in every high school, college, and university across the country. Only by educating the American public about the way its criminal justice system has been weaponized against people of color will we be able to bring about change. Mass incarceration is just the latest method of perpetuating our country's long and sordid history of racial segregation, exclusion, subjugation, and brutality. Thank you to Michelle Alexander for her cogent analysis of this insidious perversion of "justice" that for far too long has been hidden in plain sight.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    One of the best books that I've read in over a decade. This book

    One of the best books that I've read in over a decade. This book tells it like it is and the "is" ain't pretty. Michelle does a wonderful job explaining in layman's terms how racial control systems are still very much a part of our society today.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2012

    This one of the most important books to be published in the last decade.

    Everyone should read this book. She did the hard work to understand the reasons why so many people of color are incarcerated.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 8, 2010

    Awesome!

    Michelle is a great person. I am her neighbor, and I see her almost every day when she is home. I entertain her kids. This is a great look on the subject, and I will hope that she will one day make another book. She deserves the respect that she will get through the book. Here is a shout out to Nicole, Jono, and Cori!!!

    2 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2013

    Life Changing Read

    Thought provoking read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2013

    An incredibly important and incredible book

    Michelle Alexander delivers a scathing critique and fascinating untold history of mass incarceration. This book makes a strong case for massive reformation to the US criminal justice system and an end to (or, at a minimum, a redirection of) the war on drugs.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 15, 2012

    MUST READ!!

    I read this book when the Trayvon Martin incident happened and it was emotionally and thematically intense. Talk about a read for the times....MUST READ!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2012

    Well written and researched and never repetitive

    It is hard to believe that this great injustice has been and is being purpetrated, unseen and silently in the home of the worlds most vibrant democracy.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 20, 2011

    The new jim crow

    I just finished reading the sample offered, and am going to buy the book. Very interesting.

    1 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 13, 2010

    HATS OFF TO MICHELLE ALEXANDER

    Michelle's book tells it like it is and what it REALLY happening to the majority of our sons. I wish the President would try to do something too help this issue and stop it .I do not know what they expect for men to do that fall under this NEW JIM CROW ISSUE .(oh I know ,they expect for them to go back in the system ...What can we do as mothers of these men to help ?

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 10, 2010

    Great Book! It's a call to action!

    I was moved to tears and called to act. Thanks Michelle for uncovering what's been a devastating truth. Justice isn't just!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2014

    Victim Mentality

    This is simply another version of the victim mentality perpetuated by the Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons of the world The African-American community and its apologists, like the author of this book, refuse to accept any accountability or responsibility for a culture within that community that tolerates , and often promotes, violence, degredation of women, and scamming the system .This author blames the justice system for the plight of young African-American males . Is it the justice system that makes them sell drugs, shoot their rival gang members, or beat up their women?

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  • Posted August 5, 2014

    I repeat - have the courage to read this book.

    A lucid take on the criminal justice system. Michelle clearly shows the tactics, behaviour and collusion taking place. Very frightening and very informational.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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