The New York Times bestseller and 'Bible of a social movement' (San Francisco Chronicle)
Once in a great while a book comes along that radically changes our understanding of a crucial political issue and helps to fuel a social movement. The New Jim Crow is such a book. Lawyer and activist Michelle Alexander offers a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status, denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights movement.
Challenging the notion that the election of Barack Obama signalled a new era of colourblindness in the United States, The New Jim Crow reveals how racial discrimination was not ended but merely redesigned. By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of colour, the American criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, relegating millions to a permanent second-class status even as it formally adheres to the principle of colourblindness.
A searing call to action for everyone concerned with social justice, The New Jim Crow is one of the most important books about race in the 21st century.
Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that "e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it." Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as "a system of social control" ("More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850"). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the "war on drugs." She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates "who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits." Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: "most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration" but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.