I value intelligent stories with characters I can relate to. I can appreciate good prose, but a captivating plot is way more important.
I heard Michelle Alexander speaking about this book, and immediately her premise intrigued me. I'd always known that our criminal justice system was biased, but the scope of it was shocking... and thinking about it as a system as detrimental as Jim Crow had never even occurred to me.
Her exploration of the topic in the book is fascinating. I'm halfway through and I'm already amazed, frustrated and enraged. I've always been concerned about social justice and civil rights. I went to law school because of my passion for these issues. But I didn't realize until this book, just how oppressive and racist our supreme court has been. I'd seen all the cases she wrote about, and had been independently outraged at each of them... but I didn't realize how they all worked in concert to leave no judicial remedy to systematic racism.
As a white man, I find that other white men will occasionally make racist comments or jokes around me. I believe that most of these people feel comfortable doing so only because they believe that real institutional racism is a thing of the past, and so that their own bias is benign. "We have a black president, so racism is over". This book is arming me with a fantastic rebuttal to those people.
This book should be read by every employer, landlord, politician, judge, and prosecutor in the US. Actually it should be read be read by every American, period.
I've often wondered how so many white people could have stayed silent and complacent in the face of Jim Crow. Now I realize that I am guilty of doing the same under a regime that is just as harmful.
This book has changed the way I look at the world. Hopefully it will spark serious reform in this country.