Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation's history and current crisis....
A sweeping collection of new and selected essays on the Obama era by the National Book Award-winning author of Between the World and Me....
James Baldwin galvanized the nation in the early days of the civil-rights movement with his eloquent manifesto....
In this groundbreaking historical expose, Douglas A. Blackmon brings to light one of the most shameful chapters in American history.....
Compelling and dramatic in the unimpeachable history it relates, White Rage will add an important new dimension to the national conversation about race in America....
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Angela Y. Davis illuminates the connections between struggles against state violence and oppression throughout history and around the world....
In 2013 Assata Shakur, founding member of the Black Liberation Army, former Black Panther and godmother of Tupac Shakur, became the first ever woman to make the FBI's most wanted list....
"The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line,” writes Du Bois....
Fifty years ago Malcolm X told a white woman who asked what she could do for the cause, "Nothing." Dyson believes he was wrong. In Tears We Cannot Stop, he responds to that question....
Alexander explains that voting is the most basic democratic freedom and right, yet black people throughout US history have been unable to hold or else exercise that right....
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Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned....
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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.
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.
38 of 38 people found this review helpful
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.
66 of 72 people found this review helpful
The author builds the case that the mass incarceration of people is no mistake as the system has been made as the next evolution of the old Jim Crow laws in the south. She focuses on a broken war on drugs that have lead to a normalcy in the poor communities of everyone having a criminal back ground and how that background becomes a scarlet letter keeping them out of society and severely limiting their life choices.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
This is the first book I read about this subject matter. It is a good introduction to what happened between the civil rights movement in the 1950s and today in the U.S. in how segregation has evolved from a visible to an invisible most dangerous hand that manipulates the politics of encarceration within a legal frame and power control by restricting voting rights and access to public assistance to felons to perpetuate a cycle that locks out "the black and brown undesirable" from the economic and political arena.
I am a younger Latino so I was not aware of half the things I learned here. The book will teach you about the current social struggle of black and brown communities in the U.S.
While I am fortunate to be bilingual and read the book in English, I wish it were available in Spanish to extend awareness to monolingual Latinos in the U.S. who would deeply benefit from this reading.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
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.
21 of 23 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
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!
What was one of the most memorable moments of The New Jim Crow?
To know that the whole government is involved in the plot to incarcerate, control, and obliterate the rights of its citizens.
21 of 25 people found this review helpful
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.
40 of 49 people found this review helpful
As young human living in the Bay Area, I intuitively knew the deck was stacked against me and all those who looked like me. Thank you Michelle Alexander for Illuminating the very nature of our nations parasitic and perverted system of justice.
To think in my juvenile rebellion against this system I unwittingly played their game. I, like the others in my hood, acted out the roles displayed on TV and the movies eventually landing me in jail. While in jail I realized my juvenile rebellion, subsequent jail time, and fines were feeding the very parasites I was rebelling against. Unbeknownst to me these same parasites are feeding on poor whites as well, and pitting us against each other.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I knew the book was going to make me mad, but I didn’t think my annoyance would be with the author, but the system. I don’t like either.
Where do I start with why I think someone else should have written the book. Someone less defeatist, with her woe are us attitude, would have been better. To battle the problem you don’t need Eeyore always saying well that strategy was tried but now it’s closed off and we can’t do anything. She adds an extra layer of depression that undermines the impetus for change. If you suffer from depression stay away from this book.
There are facts I don’t argue with but the author’s interpretation of them is annoying, like her defeatism. She goes with the South as racist narrative, but the way that is played out seems to let the rest of the country off the hook. The ghetto as we know it in America is a very northern thing. The ghetto is mentioned and in parts is the focus but its geography gets forgotten. There are other things too, such as over and under crediting various players in the government and civic sphere.
When talking about what citizen rights that are lost when branded a felon she mentions jury duty and voting. Yes, serving as a juror is important, but very few Americans are dying to serve and lose a few days of work. Also all Americans are bad about voting. American turnout for mid-term elections, those times when voting for the locals who actually impact their day to day life (schools, local roads, etc) the turnout is less than 50%, lately 30someodd percent. A lot of people get by without voting or serving on juries. Democracy is more than being heard once a year.
Another problem with the narrative, is that it sacrifices coalition building at the expense of adding on the depressingness. She is preaching to her own choir using rhetoric that pushes aside accuracy to lob rocks at groups that could help with the problem, such as libertarians who are challenging the militarization of police or blacks in power. In her conclusions, she takes time to lash out at the choir. She’s dissatisfied with civil rights lawyers wanting them to be something other than what they are. She attacks civil rights gains obtained on “the cheap”. It’s cheap only because she didn’t buy it.
I am a historian and referring to certain groups simply as “conservatives” is horribly clunky if not inaccurate when talking about certain time periods, and like the thing with the South, it lets the left off the hook. She also uses the term “passing” during the actual Jim Crow era incorrectly. It meant “passing for white” not “coping”, which seems to be the word she needs to use. She might have dumbed down the language for a broader, non-academic audience, but as a result she sacrificed accuracy.
She also mixes the problems of African Americans with prison records and felonies with that of all African Americans, regardless of class or status. The author’s remarks regarding non-poor blacks or black “elites” is negatively all over the place. It might be a foreign idea that black middle & upper classes may want certain things for themselves, not just to impress or appease whites. She damns the black middle class for pushing for slum clearance and efforts to remove the black ghetto she spends most of the book complaining about. In regards to family matters, yes, child support is one of many burdens placed on men returning from prison, but it needs to be paid. She seems to want to enable deadbeat dads.
I have no problem with the narration. In the beginning there are male voices, an unknown and I guess Cornell West or someone reading as Cornell West. She sounds annoyed, and that’s okay. It might have added to my annoyance with the author.
I finished the book so my complaint could be complete.
16 of 20 people found this review helpful
Is there anything you would change about this book?
The author is an attorney and writes like one. The exact same line is repeated over and over again. Alexander has way of listing facts and then subtly introduce an opinion to try to present it as another fact. I guess I feel the book is poorly edited.
What do you think your next listen will be?
Listening to Jefferson and Hamilton
What about Karen Chilton’s performance did you like?
Very good performance.
Did The New Jim Crow inspire you to do anything?
Alexander is kind of all over the place. She list a lot of problems but very few solutions. She contradicts herself a lot i.e. she states in the beginning of the book that this book is only going to deal with Black men, but then through out the entire book she includes hispanics. The book left me with the feeling there was nothing a single person could do.
Any additional comments?
This is another book that I wish audible.com would include the meta data for the book. The author does not reference her sources in the text of this version of the book so I have no way to look at the information and studies she is quoting from.<br/><br/>By the end of the book I think a better title for this book would have been "Why is everyone stupid except me?" Alexander claims prosecutors and DAs are criminals, judges are too stupid to understand the laws they are charged to uphold, and public defenders just don't care. Since the author is an attorney and thus an officer of the court isn't she bound to report of file claims of moral or criminal wrong doings in the league system? <br/><br/>In this book the reader learns that everyone is at fault for the current preponderance of black men incarcerated in the United States today.Well except her and civil rights organizations. After she gives a brief list of the things civil rights organizations are doing wrong including being top heavy with attorneys (such as herself) she states that these organizations can't be held responsible for the problems in the judicial system today. <br/><br/>There are however plenty of people who are to blame. From my memory they are; white men, rural whites, poor whites, automakers, steel mills, the U.S. government, Presidents Obama, Clinton, Reagan, Johnson, and Roosevelt, Dick Cheney, universities, people who don't see color, people who see color, every man who has ever been a policeman or firefighter, people who support affirmative action, people who don't support affirmative action, black police chiefs, black police officers, the justice department,blacks who marry outside of their own race(this comment really shocked me coming from someone preaching this love and understanding message), the prison system, and I am sure the are more but you get the point. <br/><br/>Alexander paints society with a very wide brush. If one officer is bad then they all are. And she applies this idea to many of the groups listed above. <br/><br/>I was also left with the feeling when I was finished with the book that Alexander feels that young black men are too weak, poor, or uneducated to do anything for themselves. I feel she gives the part of society that she is saying we as a society need to lift up, very little credit for being strong and independent. <br/><br/>There is a good story here that needs to be told but this book did not do it very well.
9 of 11 people found this review helpful