The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Category: Social Sciences
Author: Michelle Alexander
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by Crotchten_Bale   2019-11-17

I responded to some comments here but wanted to leave my own take. For some context I'm an American Studies student and my studies are mostly concentrated on these subjects.

For issues of race I would recommend the following:

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander is essential for understanding the current state of the Criminal Industrial Complex and how so-called "colorblind" policy targets and criminalizes African Americans, especially in impoverished communities.

From #Blacklivesmatter to Black Liberation by Keeanga Yamahtta Taylor looks at the issues of hyperincarceration and BLM from a capitalist-critical perspective. Personally I find his stance on the causes of hyperincarceration more accurate and expansive than Alexander's.

White Rage by Carol Anderson is more of a look at the history of African American oppression by white. Unlike Taylor's and Alexander's works, Anderson provides an important look back at how the activities of African Americans have been routinely suppressed since their first emancipation at the end of the Civil War.

Assorted recommendations on other topics:

The Feminine Mystique is Betty Friedan's seminal work and is just as relevant today as it was over 50 years ago when it was first published. It's important to read this work somewhat critically however as it is colored by its era (such as when she derides lesbanism as being "unnatural"). Nonetheless its an essential piece in understanding the goals and challenges of feminism.

Unfortunately I don't have more to recommend on the issues of feminism or LGBTQ issues as its outside of my areas of study. If anyone has suggestions for reading in this field I'd love to hear it!

Building Suburbia by Dolores Hayden is an overview of the development of housing in America. Despite the mundane subject matter, housing is a key feature of American life and understanding how it developed and the role it's played are possibly some of the most important details to understand today's America.

Celebrity Culture and the American Dream by Karen Sternheimer is a great material analysis of the history and role of celebrity in America contrasted against the background of The American Dream. This reading isn't as essential as the others I've listed, but in my opinion is an interesting and enlightening read.

We The Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights is Adam Winkler's summary of the infamous Citizen's United ruling by the supreme court. Again, not essential in regards to understanding the current socio-political climate, but is a well written and comprehensive read. As a side note, his other book Gunfight is bad. When he sticks to his historical and legal analysis, the book is good. But when he injects his own opinions he does so hamfistedly and presents some pretty bad ideas.

The subjects of capitalism and socialism are charged topics with a lot to examine. As a result, I'm hesitant to list any readings on a public forum like this. However I have my own opinions about what readings are good, or bad, and why that's the case. If anyone wants to know what I recommend and why, I'm more than open to DMs. In short, I find Terry Eagleton's Why Marx Was Right to be a funny, insightful, and accessible look into Marx's theories.

by Phildos   2019-11-17

if anyone is seriously interested in this question (and doesn't just want to give edgy hot takes on the internet), one small thing you can do is read a book- the new jim crow .

when you give your uninformed opinion in a public forum, it has a (small) effect on the world. acknowledge if you're not the target of that effect. a willingness to gamble regardless is... pretty weak.

by ghost521   2019-11-17

No matter how relativistic your view can be (even if there have been TONS of posts just in this thread alone pointing out the discrepancies), when you consider that Nixon's aide John Ehrlichman admitted this in regards to the start of the War on Drugs:

>“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

It's suddenly not very muddy anymore, is it?

Even IF the majority of black prisoners are violent comment was true, it had A LOT to do with the discriminatory and predatory practices set in place by those with higher powers a long time ago. Once you've been arrested only once, MANY doors are closed off, especially for the black community because they indeed are targeted more frequently by LE - legitimately causes or not. Many of these black convicts find themselves at a bad end because - frankly speaking - there's no other choice, and then get reincarcerated because of the same reason.

Hoods don't stay hoods simply because the people have no aspirations to improve their surroundings, the socioeconomic implications are HUGE. It's a vicious ouroboros that keeps eating its own tail until people realize that there's most likely only one very clear and essential answer to this problem, and it's most likely not because black folks are violent apes.

If you're actually interested in learning about this, read this book. It is where I was first introduced to this phenomenon and how insidious the whole thing is.

by CrockettScience   2019-11-17

Good book on this exact thing:

by fluffyjdawg   2019-11-17

Damn, that's fucked up to bring up Affirmative Action as your only example of racial discrimination... This says to me you are only concerned about issues that hurt white people. I'd suggest reading this book if you wish to learn more on the subject.

by yourelying999   2019-11-17

>Indulge me in the systemic injustices of the black community from the last 40-50 years after the civil rights movement ?

There are entire books you can read about this. Here's one:


And then the rest of your post is just taking your incorrect premise and running with it.

by Socrathustra   2019-07-21

Here is a direct link to the book. Seriously, you should read this. It is one of the most accessible books on the subject, and it's not merely "white men are all evil." It is a summary of good, mainstream scholarship. You will only come out better for having read it.

by Socrathustra   2019-07-21

We stole Africans from Africa. Yes, we "bought" the slaves from locals... at the point of a gun. The locals had little to no say in whether they sold to us.

Whether or not we were early adopters of abolition does not matter. Our country was founded with slavery written into it. Southern religion still clings to most of the ideas that justified it.

Lastly, "someone with a brain" can understand that "we criminalize being poor" means that we unfairly target the poor with our laws. We have harsh sentences for crimes of desperation like dealing or even possessing drugs, which is common when you barely have money to feed your family.

If you want to understand a tiny bit of what it is to be black in America, read The New Jim Crow or watch 13th on Netflix.

by MuvHugginInc   2019-07-21

What are your thoughts on the contents of this article?

Are you familiar with the book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness? (

by xynix_ie   2019-07-21


Have you read anything by Michelle Alexander?

Here ya go:

Try not to use words you don't know the meaning of. It makes you sound like a moron.

by SpicyDragoon93   2019-07-21

The best book you could possibly read is a book called 'The New Jim Crow' by Michelle Alexander. It's about America's racist criminal justice system.

by whydidisaythatwhy   2019-07-21

Brilliant book, absolutely worth a read if any of y’all haven’t read it before:

by DoodleBungus   2019-07-21

You desperately need to read this book:

The entire system (the drug war and tough on crime laws) were basically designed to relegate black people and political opponents into a lower caste (the "felon" caste) and keep them there (by stripping them of rights and ability to work).

It's literally Jim Crow redesigned to meet constitutionality tests - i.e. color blindness. It sweeps up everyone indiscriminately, and unjustly - but it affects colored people disproportionately because... hey it turns out that's what it was meant to do in the first place.

by snakenecks   2019-07-21

The new Jim Crow is actual a very informative book and everyone should read it if they want to understand institutionalized racism in America

by Trimblco   2019-01-13

Yeah but he's black. The US criminal justice system was literally made for black men.

by happydepressedguy   2019-01-13

Good lord. Someone needs some Michelle Alexander in their life. (For context: she wrote The New Jim Crow and is one of the scholars featured in Ava DuVernay's documentary 13th. If you haven't seen her work, you need to.)

by titotal   2018-11-10

do you think MLK jr stopped pushing for social change after the civil rights act passed? Social justice has always been the actual goal of the movement, legislation was just one of the ways to achieve that.

Also, I would say that mass incarceration and police officers getting away with murder definitely count as civil rights issues.

by DoodleBungus   2018-11-10

>The only lesson these people learned during the civil rights movement was to keep it on the DL.

Incorrect. The only thing they learned was that if they're gonna keep doing it, they need to disguise it with language that allowed for presumption of colorblindness by onlookers. [

Oh did I say jail all black people? My bad, I meant jail all drug users. Oh hey look that poverty stricken area over yonder has a drug problem! What do you mean they're all black? I had NO IDEA. Hey, look, I'm not targeting black people, I'm targeting drug people.

>"You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities," Ehrlichman said. "We could arrest their leaders. raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did."

This wasn't keeping it on the DL, it is the literal definition of political correctness.

>the avoidance, often considered as taken to extremes, of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against.

You see, as long as they didn't literally say this shit targeted black people, it was cool. No one could say anything because, hey, fuck those druggies, right?

This worked fucking WONDERS for the people out to marginalize people of color. Pretty soon even colored celebrities (Cosby for example) were vilifying the Drug People. They started co-opting the subversive language adopted by the right to target people of color in an effort to shame people of color involved in the drug stuff.

Problem is all those laws were basically designed to scoop up black people (and no one gave a shit about the white people scooped up in the process, they were drug people too).

No. They didn't change anything but their rhetoric. Neither did the majority of America. Even the Liberals were fine letting it all happen, so long as those police forces weren't policing their neighborhoods like a band of thugs.

Oh by the way Bernie understood this back in 1972, only a few years after Nixon started the crackdown on ~~black~~ drug people ...