In the era of colorblindness, it is no longer socially permissible to use race, explicitly, as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. Yet, as legal star Michelle Alexander reveals, today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against convicted criminals in nearly all the ways that it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once you’re labeled a felon, the old forms of discrimination - employment discrimination, housing discrimination, denial of the right to vote, denial of educational opportunity, denial of food stamps and other public benefits, and exclusion from jury service - are suddenly legal.
©2012 Michelle Alexander (P)2012 Recorded Books, LLC
The New Jim Crow has been reopening my eyes to the modern system of enslavement that still exists in our drug war culture. It’s a mechanized system of mass incarceration that ingests people and spits out corpses with the brandished label of a “criminal.”
Too often we can create tunnel vision excuses for panoramic systems of injustice because we only analyze a problem based on the top 10% of the iceberg that’s in our face, meanwhile a behemoth lurks beneath the surface unnoticed. Michelle Alexander’s work in this book helps complete the picture. She dives down to get beneath the superficial anecdotes. She relays the history, identifies tipping points along the way and uses broad strokes and individual stories to make the message clear: Slavery may have ended, civil rights may be written into law, but there is a still a purposeful and intentional modern Jim Crow war against communities of color, and African Americans in particular, that can’t be denied.
I strongly suggest if you’re a person of justice or seeking understanding, that you pick up The New Jim Crow.
As a white Londoner now living in SoCal I witnessed the ‘war on drugs’ and the resulting boom in prison growth with a combination of disinterest and perhaps mild confusion. Many things confuse me about the US; like why poor working class white people vote against their own best interests so often, and why do people with so much economically in common not get along better. I experienced the phenomena of racism in America at a distant third hand. It did occur to me on occasion that the entire weird situation of race, colorblindness and the massive growth in the prison population could be seen as a massive socio political “Pelican Brief” style conspiracy… it couldn't be could it? Well, if this book is even only a fraction true that is precisely what this is.
This book proposes that what we have seen in the last few decades is exactly that. A conspiracy between right wing political elites to control a section of our society which had formerly been controlled by slavery then by Jim Crow. It’s an excellent example of evil flourishing when good people do nothing. If you are a member of the hard right this book will make your blood boil. It makes an excellent case against your core views and beliefs with extensive and detailed evidence for the case, which will likely send you running back to Fox News to get your reality reinforced. If you lean even slightly liberal or are just a busy middle of the road kind of person who has scratched your head about “those people” getting sent to jail in such large numbers this book will rock your world. Either way you should read this. I defy you not to have at least one “aha!” moment per chapter….this book will haunt you…it may even make you cry.
If you want to attempt to come to terms with what ‘the war on drugs’ unfair policing, mandatory minimums and the impact that so many people getting felony convictions for such minor crimes has had on our society this book will take you by the hand and lead you through the last hundred or so years of our history and open your eyes. The conclusion is as startling as it is depressing, every thinking person in our society should read this book…and perhaps we can then start to solve the problem it so disturbingly describes.
Michelle Alexander has put together a very well written and well researched book regarding the horrors of the drug war. She goes into great detail about how minority populations (primarily blacks) have been devastated by the unsuccessful war on drugs. She makes a few mentions of how poor whites have recently become affected by the same war on drugs ala "The House I Live In". However, her conclusions regarding the escalation of the war on drugs seem to be biased. She continuously blames "conservatives" for the war on drugs. They bear some blame, no doubt. But to be more accurate, it seems that Republicans (sometimes conservative) would be a better way to describe those who have caused the escalation. Furthermore, she places little blame on Democrats and usually makes excuses for those who contributed.
In the end, it's clear Ms. Alexander sees the world through a right vs left paradigm. But the truth is that when assessing responsibility for the drug war, a populist vs authoritarian, or libertarian vs statist view would be much better in assessing political blame. After all, a true conservative should believe that a small government is best. The drug war is a result of the exponential increase in the size of government. But again, I will continue to recommend this book to friends with that caveat.
I was shocked and amazed at the content and how truly ignorant I was on the subject matter. I liked the fact that Ms. Alexander not only gave the historical context, facts and examples but also what we can to do to change it. This was a great book!
To know that the whole government is involved in the plot to incarcerate, control, and obliterate the rights of its citizens.
This is a piercing, courageous book that connected a lot dots for me. Michelle Alexander lays out a compelling, sturdily reasoned case that may explain a lot of very sick things in our society. The “war on drugs,” incentivizing biased police enforcement, unfair stereotyping of minority youth, prison profiteering, and fear of discussing racial issues are not the only perpetuating factors. Anyone who cares about social justice would appreciate this book. It interestingly written, although a bit repetitive and I believe the author could have said more about how the system perpetuates crime and violence. The reader Karen Chilton is one of the best I have heard in many hours of audible.com listening.
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.
I recommend this book to everyone - it contains ideas that we, as a free democracy must face - how can we assure equal opportunity for all.
This book provides shocking statistics, surveys and testimonials arguing that the War on Drugs has become a war on young black men and is moving a huge percentage of these men into the control of our prison system, often for trivial amounts of drugs.
I thought the narrator read as if this book were a story instead of the important thesis it is. Occasionally the narrator put the emphasis on the wrong words in a phrase, suggesting she was just reading words and not understanding the facts she was reading. Lastly, she pronounced 'lenGth' as 'lenth' and often pronounced 'd' as 't' as in 'Baldwin', 'administration', 'would' and others. It is not the Government 'Accountability' Office, either.
A sobering look at our legal system (along with education and affirmative action) and the horrific effect it has had on the lives of black men (and thus all of us interested in a fair society).
'The War on Drugs' uses the 'Shock and Awe' of our legal system to annihilate the lives of black men.
Is the United States still a racially divided country - using the legal system to discriminate against young black men?
Not only is the 'War on Drugs' lost, but it has annihilated an entire segment of our population - young black men.
How our legal system, through the 'War on Drugs' has destroyed the lives of young minorities, especially blacks.
This book has at least 30 new and inter-related concepts about the war on drugs, the massive incarceration of black men, arrests for tiny amounts of drugs the horrible life of anyone who becomes a felon. the problems with a 'color-blind' society and much more. Slavery and Jim Crow laws in their time may not have been as bad for young black men as the war on drugs is today.
This book also touches on other better-understood systemic problems in today's society, including unequal housing opportunities, unequal education opportunities, the failures of affirmative action and more. These huge intractable issues, along with the author's main topic, the unfairness of the implementation of the war on drugs, provide a grim picture of how difficult it will be to change society to provide 'justice for all'.
This work of investigative history reveals the roots of racial inequality in American Justice; the secret 'mission' of the prison-industrial complex, the racism inherent to the justice system, and how it relates to the 'social caste' system in America. This book is a revelation AND truly revolutionary.
Plantation Prison System: The New Slavery in Neo-Feudal America
Private intellectual, writer, and retired academic. Currently R&D director for Gravitational Systems Engineering, Inc.
This a very dense yet understandable expaination of a common corruption of US justice.
It revealed the silent struggles of those people whom we, despite our race, consider as the others. It brought in sharp relief the perils of casual drug use and poverty. If you enjoyed the book the Working Poor, this book is the other side of the page. I would also add that the overriding sense of the fallacy of exceptionalism, as applied to any group. In brief, most people are not exceptional, yet should you need to be above average to live a good life, and have a secure future? Should poverty or race magnify your lack of exceptionalism often to the level of tragedy. Should a teenage indescretion doom you to never being eligble to vote, or be eliglble for any public assistance, including basic food security. And can we afford to keep and increasingly large segment of the population in custody or supervision?
Although scenes are not relevant to this book, the most compelling understanding that I gained was the impact of many seemingly innocous supreme court decisions.
The stories about how grandmothers have been evicted from public housing because their grandson was arrested for drug possesion in a nearby park. Also, the explaination of pretex stops as a policy to search vehicles.
We should all be aware of this and many other forms of corruption that are rife in the US justice and legislative systems. If not from a sense of fairness, then from a sense of self peservation. As this population becomes more diverse these kinds of injustices are the meat and gravy of widespread social unrest. As our economy becomes increasingly dependent on machines, websites, and automation more and more people will be forced out of the mainstream of American life, and into the disenfranchised. Remember the history of the French revolution.
After finishing the book I bought eight copies in paperback for others to read. This is not an easy read, but it is a "must read".
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