The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
I wish every 16 year old Black teen in America was mandated to read this book. Let me tell you why:
Michelle Alexander is a lawyer who previously directed the Racial Justice Project at the ACLU of Northern California, which spearheaded a national campaign against racial profiling by law enforcement. In this book, she unleashes tons of of research not just to cover the prison industrial complex, but to cover what happens from the very start to get so many Black men there. Starting from the War on Drugs, the mass incentives given to police departments to lock up as many people as possible, the tactics used to arrest as many Black people as possible, the court cases that made such tactics legal, the stats that illustrate how Black men are disproportionately targeted for crimes that white men commit in much higher numbers, the people and industries who benefit from the high numbers of black men and women in prison, the long lasting effects of prison (no voting, little access to aid in education and social welfare, break down of family and community) which create a revolving door back to prison, and how and why she believes the prison system is the legalized way to put Black people back in the position that so many of our grandparents dealt with in the times of Jim Crow in the South.
Much of the info is eye opening and will make the most dedicated American reconsider their loyalties. I kind of already knew some of what she shared, but not all. The truths in this book made me so angry that it took nearly three months for me to complete, but it was also helpful in better understanding the conditions that have led to so many Black men behind bars. She also gives the information in a way that keeps the reader very engaged, so that even though it is filled mainly with politics, law, and history, it was still extremely interesting.
I feel like if people knew the information in this book, they would do better. Period.
I’d recommend this to those interested in American history, Black history, the American justice system, American law enforcement, racial profiling, the history and effects of the prison industrial complex, and the history of the War on Drugs.