The New Jim Crow Mass Incarceration the Age of Colorblindness

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The New Jim Crow, Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. Written by Michelle Alexander, Michelle is highly recognized as a civil rights lawyer, legal scholar and an advocate, where she teaches at Stanford Law School, and several other universities across the nation. Even while serving as an associate professor of law and the director of the civil rights clinics. Alexander received the Soros justice fellowship and the NAACP award which was an achievement to her book she wrote “The New Jim Crow”.

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Joining the Kirwan institute for the study of Race and Ethnicity at the moritz college of law at the Ohio State university.

Serving as the director of the Racial justice project for North California was a passion for her, while directing numerous projects such as doing coalition building, litigation and grassroots organizing. Michelle had highlighted to the American nation that the criminal justice system is a complete draft of a caste system rather than it be a system that prevents and controls crime. She found passion in exposing the racial bias in the criminal justice system which endorsed a major campaign against the racial profiling by police officers. While working as litigator at private law firm, she specialized in the plaintiff side class action lawsuits for people who face race and gender discrimination.

Michelle Alexander graduated from Stanford Law school and Vanderbilt university. She has work alongside several well-known chief judges from the U.S Supreme courts and the Court of Appeals. Devoting most of her time to public speaking and organizing advocate for committees to ending the growing of mass incarceration in America, and her most compelling reward was being a mother of three wonderful children.

The Purpose/Thesis of the Book

In Michelle Alexander’s ” The New Jim Crow”. She argues about the growth of mass incarceration as an racialized social control, while majority of black men are being put in jail and imprisoned.Her main thesis is this: the system of mass incarceration based on drug charges was created as a form of racial control and exists as a way to keep people of color in permanent states of economic, political, and social marginalization much as the Jim Crow laws of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

While ostensibly citizens, people in the system both in jail and once released, do not get to engage with many of the hallmarks of citizenship such as voting or receiving public housing and assistance. They form what Alexander calls an “undercaste,” which she defines as “a stigmatized racial group locked into an inferior position by law and custom.”

The percentage of black men imprisoned as exceeded, the percentage of white men that would get incarcerated by the criminal justice system. I strongly agree that discrimination occurs in public environments more than it exists in the prison population setting. Observation from experience, I see how people of color has been neglected and discriminated against in society. Michelle focuses more on social discrimination of blacks by the criminal justice system for the racial biases which is projected towards the black race in America.

Summary of the Book

The topic of this book is basically how Jim Crow fell into the criminal justice system. Jim crow laws were racial laws that increased prejudice among african american, and even affected the black community socially and economically. Unfortunately these laws did violate african americans Fourteenth and fifteenth amendments. An well known case was as an illustration is The Plessy v Ferguson case which showed the discrimination opposed to African Americans in Louisiana. So they eventually had to do away with the jim crow laws. But that did not mean they had to do away with the strategy to keep black in a barrier, they just come up with different strategy threw the criminal justice system, involving incarnation of mostly colored men.

The book happens to cover the topic of the jail system and jim crow very well, to where it is just a broader look on the way the system was made up. Michelle mention “What is completely missed in the rare public debates today about the plight of African Americans is that a huge percentage of them are not free to move up at all. It is not just that they lack opportunity, attend poor schools, or are plagued by poverty. They are barred by law from doing so.” (pg.13) From this quote she is basically stating what i mentioned above, on how their has been a barrier put around african americans.

This barrier has been put around blacks to keep them running around the same circle, that does has a small exit door, that you’ll miss if your eyes are not “OPEN”. By the word open i mean a deeper meaning and broader light, if your eyes are not open and awake on how to claim out and away from the barriers, to succeed further, you’ll always be stuck in the circle going in circles. This topic is very important, especially as an black male because we have to train our community how to raise up and above. If have to  overcome what has been unwillingly attached to us, and remove the labels as well stigmatizes. (5) As far as topics being missing in “The New Jim Crow” novel, i do not feel like anything was missing to my knowledge and understanding.

I believe the book was written just right, and in the perspective for somebody to actually take this knowledge and insight and apply it. (7) When it comes to this novel and the text that was in it and how it influenced me. To my comprehension, so of the stuff Michelle discussed, as a Black male just moving to the united states, and being here for a couple years, i have seen the prejudice among the black community. As i have learned through several classes i have taken, on the history of the treatment of african americans, to me it is similar of the treatment that was done back than is being done now. The treatment is being done just in a smarter way.

Michelle states ” Racially biased police discretion is key to understanding how the overwhelming majority of people who get swept into the criminal justice system in the War on Drugs turn out to be black or brown, even though the police adamantly deny that they engage in racial profiling.” (pg 121) This statement is a prime example of the racial abuse opposed among the people who skin tones are not bright and white. Specifically the skin tone of blacks and browns are aimed for.

Of course police will deny it is racial profiling but when there is more of a certain ethnicity group versus white, what would you propose that is called? (8) My favorite chapter in this book, would not actually be a chapter but is a couple pages that could be a chapter. But it would be the introduction for me, in my case. Correspondingly because, every author has an introduction in a book. But every author does not have a good introduction. By good introduction i mean one that literally grabs your attention, to the point where you can not stop reading the information. Simply because the information is so fulfilling to the ones eye, you just have to get more.

This is the exact feeling I felt when I read the introduction section to “The New Jim Crow”. (9)The chapter named The end of the era, certainly because of this particularly statement michelle mentioned ” The litigation that swept the nation in the 1990s challenging racial profiling practices has nearly vanished. The news stories about people being stopped and searched on their way to church or work or school have faded from the evening news.” (pg 134) This quote rub me the wrong way because it shows how we look at racial profiling as continuous norm. Simply because back in the day it was normal, but now it becoming normal again.

Organization and Documentation

By the early 1980s, survey data indicated that 90 percent of whites thought black and white children should attend the same schools, 71 percent disagreed with the idea that whites have a right to keep blacks out of their neighborhoods, 80 percent indicated they would support a black candidate for president, and 66 percent opposed laws prohibiting intermarriage. Page(22) Although far fewer supported speci?¬? c policies designed to achieve racial equality or integration (such as busing), the mere fact that large majorities of whites were, by the early 1980s.

Statistics show that African Americans commit only fifteen percent of drug offenses, yet they comprise up to 90% of incarcerations for drug offenses in communities throughout the country. Besides that, although the majority of illegal drug users and dealers are white, three-fourths of all people incarcerated for drug offenses have either been black or Latino. There is clearly something wrong with this picture.

The big question is: why is it mostly the minority that is suffering? Looking at it in a Marxists point of view, the answer is pretty simple. It is easier for the officers of the law to exploit those of no authority, e.g. poor blacks, than those who can easily buy their way out, e.g. affluent whites. Although the majority of illegal drug users and dealers are white, three-fourths of all people incarcerated for drug offenses have either been black or Latino.

“African Americans––particularly in the poorest neighborhoods––are subject to tactics and practices that would result in public outrage and scandal if committed in middle-class white neighborhoods.”(Alexander 96) What Alexander is trying to convey is that poor African Americans who receive this kind of treatment have no choice but to accept it since they have no resources to take legal action. As one former prosecutor voiced out, “It’s a lot easier to go out to the ‘hood, so to speak, and pick somebody than to put your resources in an undercover operation in a community.(StudyMode Research).

  • Statistical Data table Explaining  the Mass Incarceration in the American criminal justice system.
  • Incarceration as a major increase for the past 30 years to.        2.4 million
  • America have 5% of the population but the prison system is         25%
  • The number of black people incarcerated is at a rate of         60%
  • The number of black people  convicted for drugs in state prison is        75%
  • The electoral system denied Americans the rights to vote in any election.        5.3 million
  • Black men as been disenfranchised by the criminal justice system        13%
  • Between 1997 to 2007 the number of women incarceration by the criminal justice system as tremendously increased by         832%
  • Implications

The New Jim Crow book, is a very  impactful book not only to the black community/ minorities but also America majorities at large. Michelle Alexander as touch and highlighted topics and points in this book that will have a first time reader shouting the Author “Brave and Bold”.The African-American women play an astonishing role in the fight and struggle against Jim Crow. Jim Crow was a character in a song by Daddy Rice, a white man who painted his face to portray a black male. Jim Crow was a disrespectful charter that made black people seem dim-witted.  It was furthermore a very insulting word to the African Americans much like the word nigger.

“In the 1900, the term was generally identified with those racist laws and actions that deprived African Americans of their civil rights by defining blacks as inferior to whites, as members of a caste of subordinate people” (The history of Jim Crow). Shortly after the Civil War, black women were slowly moving past slavery.(University of Memphis). The impact this book on Law enforcement highlighted negatively, recently democratic senate candidate Beto O’Rourke said he believed enforcement is the New Jim Crow in Law Enforcement.O’Rourke alleged that police officers arrest and kill black people solely for the color of their skin and use certain profiling tactics in order to unfairly punish black people.

“Talking about criminal justice reform, let’s talk about where this problem started,” O’Rourke said. “When contractors needed labor, they would talk to local law enforcement, who would arrest African-Americans for idling, for petty crimes, frivolous offenses. Those contractors would describe the number of bodies that they needed and law enforcement would provide those bodies.””That injustice … continues to persist today.

That system of suspending somebody solely based on the color of their skin, searching that person solely based on the color of their skin, stopping that person solely based on the color of their skin, shooting that person solely based on the color of their skin, throwing the book at that person and letting them rot behind bars solely based on the color of their skin is why some have called this ?  I think it is an apt description ?  the new Jim Crow,” he said.( the daily caller/The New Jim Crow). I believe if the New Jim Crow.


I conclude that Michelle Alexander who is a civil rights lawyer as make an contribution in the minds of black and majorities/ criminal justice system that the jim crow never died. The growth of mass incarceration is still growing in America which as the large prison population in the world. More African American today is still be labelled as criminals and being strip of their freedom, rights to vote and access to any government program.

My final judgement on the value of this article I would vocalize, is that this is an book that african americans should read. This book has information that is useful to apply to everyday knowledge, and just to be aware of. As far as recommending this book to a fellow professional colleagues, I certainly would. This book is very powerful when it comes to the content that is in it. Like the old saying “Knowledge is Power” right?

That is something ” The New Jim Crow” has within the book and text. Not only the break down of certain events that took place and things that happened, but facts, statistics, and evidence to back it up. Having those components play a huge factor in the point of the book. In the future I hope many African Americans get a hold of this book, to give them either a different or better view of our society and system today.

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The New Jim Crow Mass Incarceration The Age Of Colorblindness. (2019, Jun 10). Retrieved from