Former litigator-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander 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.
In quiet yet forceful writing Alexander, a legal scholar, outlines how the Reagan government exploited 1980s hysteria over crack cocaine to demonise the black population so that 'black' and 'crime' became interchangeable. It was a war – not on drugs – but on black people ... Notwithstanding improvements to the US judicial system, this distressing book offers important lessons for all societies that claim colour-blindness but enact policies that scapegoat marginalised groups. Colour-blindness leads to denial, believes Alexander; better to strive for colour-consciousness.
Now and then a book comes along that might in time touch the public and educate social commentators, policymakers, and politicians about a glaring wrong that we have been living with that we also somehow don’t know how to face. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander is such a work ... Alexander is not the first to offer this bitter analysis, but The New Jim Crow is striking in the intelligence of her ideas, her powers of summary, and the force of her writing. Her tone is disarming throughout; she speaks as a concerned citizen, not as an expert, though she is one. She can make the abstract concrete, as J. Saunders Redding once said in praise of W.E.B. Du Bois, and Alexander deserves to be compared to Du Bois in her ability to distill and lay out as mighty human drama a complex argument and history.
The book marshals pages of statistics and legal citations to argue that the get-tough approach to crime that began in the Nixon administration and intensified with Ronald Reagan’s declaration of the war on drugs has devastated black America ... For many African-Americans, the book — which has spent six weeks on the New York Times paperback nonfiction best-seller list — gives eloquent and urgent expression to deep feelings that the criminal justice system is stacked against them.