Some books and stories stay with you long after you finish reading. “The New Jim Crow,” published in 2010 after years of research by Michelle Alexander, is such a book, in my opinion.
Alexander is a civil rights activist, author, and litigator. She has served as director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California from 1998 until 2005. The ACLU led a national campaign against racial profiling by law enforcement during this period.
Her intention with “The New Jim Crow” was to explain how America’s problem “mass incarceration is, metaphorically, the New Jim Crow.” The old “Jim Crow” references state and local laws enforcing racial segregation in the Southern regions of the United States.
Alexander outlines how mass incarceration is not new but rather a reimagined way for governments to control Black bodies in a controlled and “acceptable” way.
Everyone has praised this book, and rightfully so: it’s beyond important. This book is necessary for law students, journalists, and anyone who thinks individual civil rights and liberties are important.
I don’t rate classics, and I would suggest if you do decide to read “The New Jim Crow” to do so with prudence and discretion. The entire book was a trigger warning for me—Black Trauma on full display.
I learned more than I anticipated I would. So now what? Now equipped with the knowledge of how easy it is for African-American males, as well as other minorities and those who are socio-economically disadvantaged, to fall victim to the criminal justice system, I:
1) encourage you to read “The New Jim Crow” if you haven’t already