Matt's Reviews > The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
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's review
Apr 14, 2012

it was amazing
Read in April, 2012

This is an amazing book. I started reading it with a traditional liberal reaction, oh look at this shameful racial history we have in this country and shameful tsking, but the book quickly unfolds with a barrage of really damning and eye-opening facts. By the end, the book has me convinced that there is no more pressing social justice issue in the United States than the way we send young black males in droves to prison and forever leave them second class citizens. She traces the history of race on this continent back to the 1600s and how the system of Mass Incarceration evolved in a historical context. She advocates for a new civil rights movement that includes not just the victims of mass incarceration but also the poor whites who throughout history have been the dubious benefactors of racist policies.

Alexander is a really gifted writer, and she laces really shocking facts with really powerful writing such as:

Today, no less than fifty years ago, a flawed public consensus lies at the core of the prevailing caste system. When people think about crime, especially drug crime, they do not think about suburban housewives violating laws regulating prescription drugs or white frat boys using ecstasy. Drug crime is racially defined in the public consciousness that the electorate has not cared much what happens to drug criminals -- at least not the way they would have cared if the criminals were understood to be white. It is this failure to care, really care across color lines, that lies at the core of this system of control and every racial caste system that has existed in the United States or anywhere else in the world.

Wow. It might be nice to pull one or two gems like that out of a book, but Alexander lays them down at a staccato pace. It is really well written and easily understandable, but it wasn't easy for me to read much at one sitting. I really can not say too much about this book.
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message 1: by Dan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dan Sirotkin Great review, I loved the book too - the only thing I think she missed was tying the War on Drugs to the destruction of the black family:

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