Book Review: The New Jim Crow

As a person who lived through the 70s, 80s and 90s, this book was especially fascinating for me. I remember hearing about the War on Drugs and thinking, “Why do they want to arrest all those peace-loving, long haired hippies?” I was so, so naive. They were not after the white hippies. They were after the black community.

Decades later, black communities have been ripped apart by the War on Drugs. Darker skinned people are no more likely to do drugs than whites, but thanks to federal subsidies to police stations around the country, and the political expediency of trying to ensure poor white folks that they will not be at the bottom of the social rung, there has been a deliberate attempt to shift black people into prisons, and to make their post-prison lives so difficult they are more likely to end up back there. If you don’t believe me, read this book, which explains in great detail how it has happened, step by step.The result is effectively a new form of slavery: cheap prison labor and a “felon” underclass.

I can hear your objections. You are thinking things like, “Well we have a black President of the United States, so that proves black people are better off now than they used to be.” Unfortunately, this is not true. I will bet any objection you can think of, author Michelle Alexander has heard and has an argument for in this book. She’s a Law Professor, after all.

Though an upsetting read at times, I found it riveting and read to the end, where she posits a solution. A solution that involves all of us. I wish every American would read this book.

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