The New Jim Crow: Book summary and reviews of The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

by Michelle Alexander

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

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Book Summary

Jarvious Cotton's great-great-grandfather could not vote as a slave. His great-grandfather was beaten to death by the Klu Klux Klan for attempting to vote. His grandfather was prevented from voting by Klan intimidation; his father was barred by poll taxes and literacy tests. Today, Cotton cannot vote because he, like many black men in the United States, has been labeled a felon and is currently on parole.

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 have been labeled felons for life. Although Jim Crow laws have been wiped off the books, an astounding percentage of the African American community remains trapped in a subordinate status--much like their grandparents before them.

In this incisive critique, former litigator-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander provocatively argues that we have not ended racial caste in America: we have simply redesigned it. Alexander shows that, by targeting black men and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of color blindness. The New Jim Crow 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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. ...'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." - Publishers Weekly

"Alarming, provocative and convincing." - Kirkus Reviews

"Michelle Alexander's brave and bold new book paints a haunting picture in which dreary felon garb, post-prison joblessness, and loss of voting rights now do the stigmatizing work once done by colored-only water fountains and legally segregated schools. With dazzling candor, Alexander argues that we all pay the cost of the new Jim Crow." - Lani Guinier, professor at Harvard Law School and author of Lift Every Voice: Turning a Civil Rights Setback into a New Vision of Social Justice

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A longtime civil rights advocate and litigator, Michelle Alexander was a 2005 Soros Justice Fellow. She holds a joint appointment at the Moritz College of Law and the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in Columbus, Ohio, where she lives. The New Jim Crow is her first book.

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