By in Books

Review: 'The New Jim Crow' by Michelle Alexander

There are some topics that make us uncomfortable at their mere mention. Racism is one such topic, especially now when so many Americans feel we have at last put this issue behind us.

After all, our schools and communities are now integrated, people of color hold high office and positions of authority and no one must sit at the back of the bus simply because of skin color. As a nation, we came through the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s a wiser, diverse and united citizenry -- or did we?

Author and noted civil rights advocate and attorney, Michelle Alexander, authoritatively brings into question the near absence of racism that some Americans, myself included, believe exists in our current society with "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness."

In this reasoned, fact-filled non-fiction book, Alexander explains how racism, particularly against blacks, is alive and thriving in America. The racism of today is much more subtle than in times past, but every bit as effective as slavery in disenfranchising a race of people. The author demonstrates what she holds to be a new caste system delivered through the criminal justice system.

In a fact that I found particularly telling, Alexander shares, "The United States imprisons a larger percentage of its black population that South Africa did at the height of apartheid."

Skeptics and believers will both find enough facts and logic-based ideas in this book to give reason to pause and perhaps re-examine both thoughts and feelings about racism in America and the place that changes in racial justice should be high on the list of needed reforms.

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Ellis wrote on October 14, 2014, 11:44 AM

Unfortunately people of one tribe will always be suspicious of people from another tribe whether those tribes are black/white, christian/muslim is after all, a basic survival instinct. There will always be those that take it to extremes. We are a long way from equality yet.

chatombreux wrote on October 14, 2014, 3:37 PM

I think the justice system is shameful and most obviously not blind. Money speaks, poverty rots in jail. Most poverty is of color, therefore......

BarbRad wrote on October 14, 2014, 10:41 PM

I don't feel qualified to comment much on his, since I haven't read the book. My own experience here in California shows the races getting along except in the cities or where there are gangs. There are gangs of all races.

AliCanary wrote on October 14, 2014, 11:22 PM

Oh, it's not dead, but we're doing a lot better. My husband is Japanese, and not too long ago, we wouldn't have even been able to marry in some parts of the country. Now it is such a strange notion that such a law even existed! Soon we will be shaking our heads about how stupid it was that gay people couldn't marry.