As the United States celebrates the nation's "triumph over race" with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of young black men in major American cities are locked behind bars or labeled felons for life. Jim Crow laws were wiped off the books decades ago, but today an astounding percentage of the African American community is warehoused in prisons or trapped in a permanent, second-class status -- much like their grandparents before them, who lived under an explicit system of control.
In this stunning and incisive critique, civil rights lawyer-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 through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U. S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control. In the current era, it is no longer permissible to use race, explicitly, as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. Yet it is perfectly legal to discriminate against criminals in nearly all the ways that it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. The old forms of discrimination -- discrimination in employment, housing, education, and public benefits; denial of the right to vote; and exclusion from jury service -- are suddenly legal once you're labeled a felon.
Alexander 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.
A longtime civil rights advocate and litigator, Michelle Alexander won a 2005 Soros Justice Fellowship and now holds a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University. Alexander served for several years as director of the Racial Justice Project at the ACLU of Northern California, and subsequently directed the Civil Rights Clinics at Stanford Law School, where she was an associate professor. Alexander is a former law clerk for Justice Harry Blackmun on the U. S. Supreme Court and has appeared as a commentator on CNN, MSNBC, and NPR. The New Jim Crow is her first book.
The New Jim Crow
Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindedness
by Michelle Alexander
: The New Press
: January 2012
: Trade Paperback, 336 pages, 6" x 9.25"
This book is also available in a Hardcover edition: The New Jim Crow