The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Alexander, Michelle

Book - 2010
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The New Jim Crow
Once in a great while a book comes along that changes the way we see the world and helps to fuel a nationwide social movement. The New Jim Crow is such a book. Praised by Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier as "brave and bold," this book directly challenges the notion that the presidency of Barack Obama signals a new era of colorblindness. With dazzling candor, legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that "we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it." By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. 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 colorblindness. In the words of Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, this book is a "call to action." Called "stunning" by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David Levering Lewis, "invaluable" by the Daily Kos , "explosive" by Kirkus , and "profoundly necessary" by the Miami Herald , The New Jim Crow is a must-read for all people of conscience.

Publisher: New York : New Press ; [Jackson, Tenn.] : Distributed by Perseus Distribution, 2010
ISBN: 9781595581037
Branch Call Number: 364.973 A3773n 2010
Characteristics: xi, 290 p. ;,24 cm


From Library Staff

2013 adult nonfiction winner: Once in a great while a book comes along that changes the way we see the world and helps to fuel a nationwide social movement. The New Jim Crow is such a book. Praised by Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier as "brave and bold," this book directly challenges ... Read More »

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Nov 17, 2014
  • kimberlimhhouse rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This book should be required reading for everyone. As a white woman, this brought so many things to light for me, things that never would have even occurred to me because of my privilege, aka my skin color. The only thing is that I don't recommend reading this before bed; it made me very angry and sleep was chased off.

Jul 06, 2013
  • StarGladiator rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A must read book about the targeting of Black Americans specifically, and poor people in general, for the profit of the latest segment of American multinational privatization, the US prison system! Corrections Corporation of America, Prison Realty, and on and on and on, big bucks and bigger bucks with evermore incarceration.

Jul 05, 2013
  • KSerá rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I almost didn't finish this book when it got repetitive half way through, but I'm glad I kept going because it's such an important topic. We need to restore the rights of people who have been swept up in the discriminatory "War on Drugs".

Jul 25, 2012
  • biblioholic rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I recently had an experience in which a friend of mine, who was serving a sentence in federal prison, got out and started searching for a job. I tried to help her. A kindly HR person told me how it works. HR people are flooded with applications, and need ways to cull the applicant pool. A criminal record is a convenient marker to weed out applicants. Couple this with disproportionate enforcement, and you have the new Jim Crow. Michelle Alexander has nailed it, spot on. The new Jim Crow is real.

Jul 12, 2012

I like this book, it contained a lot of truth in it and really enlightens one (if you're not enlightened already). The writer talks about how the system is racist towards black folks, not ina direct form but in a hidden, less-transparent way. It took a while for me to complete it, not because it was boring , but rather, because of its length. However, the one thing I didn't like about it was it's repetition; the writer kept repeating the emphasis on a couple of main points such as how the "war on drugs" is actually a plot to trap black folks into the Penitentiary system. But overall, I give it a thumbs up.

Mar 11, 2012
  • patienceandfortitude rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is a very important book for anyone who is interested in social justice in America. It discusses how the war on drugs has led to the mass incarceration of people of color -- particularly African-American and Latino men. It goes on to explain the negative consequences of the the criminal justice system, upon the poorest communities in our nation. Please read this book and encourage others to read it. It is a call for much needed change and without that change, we will never achieve a nation of true racial equality.

Jan 01, 2012
  • brianshmrian rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

What really shocked me about this book is how strongly it made me feel about the flaws in our criminal justice system. I already knew that the US has the largest prison population, that minimum sentencing laws have gotten out of hand, that the War on Drugs is a waste, that ex-convicts lose voting rights in many states, and things like that. I already had a sense that the justice system didn't care about rehibilitating people so much as punishing them. But what Michelle Alexander brilliantly illustrates is that this system's main target is the incarceration of people of color.

I know. Duh, right? But seriously, even though you think you might realize it, the extent of the problem is truly mind boggling. Sure, the system arose via racially coded "tough on crime" politics. But it insidiously maintains itself, because politicians who would even try to address the problem worry about being seen as soft on crime. Additionally, selectively enforced laws allow for both conscious and unconscious biases to determine who is arrested, who is tried, and who is given the harshest sentences. Even worse, in our color-blind society, we have a hard time seeing that there is a problem. Sure, one in three black men between the ages of 20 and 29 are in prison or on parole, but Barack Obama is president. Therefore, there is no racial injustice, right? Even in the communities that are the targets of this selective justice, the social stigma of having family members in prison prevents people from rallying together to tackle the problem.

This is not just a book on the unfariness of the criminal justice system, though. It's also about the creation of a new second class citizen: The convicted felon. While it's not legal to discriminate based on color, it's perfectly legal to deny housing, jobs, and even voting rights to ex-criminals. What better way to assure criminal recidivism, right? It's almost as if eliminating crime is not the main concern of the system!

Ugh... I know I'm not doing a good job of communicating what's in this book. The stuff I've written sounds like stuff I've read before. Perhaps it would be better to give a link to the interview with Michelle Alexander that interested me in the book in the first place. It's illuminating to see that even she, as director of the ACLU's Racial Justice Project of Northern California, didn't realize the extent of the problem until a particular incident:

"And the light bulb went on: 'Wow, he's right about me. I'm no better than the police.' I just started questioning myself: 'How am I as a civil rights lawyer, just replicating all the same forms of discrimination I say I'm out here fighting against?'"

Aug 01, 2011
  • middlepath rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is an absolute necessary read for everyone. The author explains in a clear, detailed and precise manner the ongoing efforts our politics and culture are engaged in to maintain African-Americans as second class members of our society. Please read and share with everyone you know.


Add Age Suitability

Jun 14, 2012

BLUESJOURNEY thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 17 and 19


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add a Notice

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Find it at MCL