The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Descriptive summary of The New Jim Crow novel by Michelle Alexander
The new Jim Crow is a book that presents the credible and well-researched discussion of the race-related issues that resulted in the mass incarceration of African-Americans in the US. The book was written exclusively by Alexander Michelle, who is known for his contribution in the liberation of bad governance in the US. Alexander was a successful career person and a legal scholar who advocated for civil rights through authorized processes including litigation (Alexander 1). The man is credited for contributing towards the awareness creation of the oppressive governance and discrimination that African-Americans were facing in the US. The book remains a valued item among book readers in the nation and globally. IT has continually received positive acceptance in the market due to its reliability and insightful information that it presents.
The book details the atrocities that African-Americans were facing or experiencing in the US. The unfair practices that are covered are the mass incarceration, racial discrimination, social injustices, lack of access to basic healthcare, and education. Likewise, it details how the Negroes and other minority groups were socially and economically disadvantaged in the US. According to Alexander (2), the racial discrimination evident in the US is impeding the integration process of individuals from the diverse background. The aspect has created a gap between the rich and the poor that remains difficult to manage. Alexander indicates that many attempts are being made to correct the imbalance situation between the whites and Africans, but progress being realized is limited. Alexander affirms that the war on discrimination and socio-economic unfairness that Negroes face in the nation is not coming to an end anytime soon.
He even demystifies that assertion that discrimination has mostly ended especially during the civil rights movement reform that occurred in the year 1960s. He claims that the strides made have been in the right direction, but they have yielded optimal results. He affirms that the natives will always find a reason to impose the unfair treatment of individuals. For instance, the criminal justice system of the state uses the war on drugs to impose discrimination and oppression of the people.
The book highlights how the war on drugs is being misused continually to oppress the minority groups (Alexander 2). The anti-drug policy adopted by the federal states is targeting minority communities including those of black origin who are in turn exposed to a vicious cycle of poverty. Likewise, it depicts at its preamble stages that racism is alive in the US. The practice is not dead as affirmed by various individuals, but alive.
Theme of the book
The book’s main theme is that mass incarceration remains the New Jim Crow. This is evident because of how it selectively traps the people of color and its similarity to the racial caste systems.
Summary based on the chapters
As noted, the article majorly focuses on the rebirth of the castle, bad governance, discrimination and oppression of the Negroes and minority groups as depicted in all its chapters. For instance, the first chapter of the book focuses on the rebirth of the caste, the birth of slavery, the death of slavery and the birth of Jim Crow. Alexander affirms in the preamble stages of the books that there is nothing like the death of slavery in the US. The practice has resurfaced and is alive but in a different form. He states that the nation has resorted to using the war on drugs to launch scathing discrimination treatment to the Negroes and minority groups (Alexander 4). The author also affirms that no much basic structure has been developed to protect the Negroes and minority groups since the collapse of Jim Crow. She justifies that fact by recording how unfair the people of color were labeled disproportionately as criminals. This aspect has been contributing and allowing the continuation of legal discrimination that existed before. The minority groups are still being denied good housing, education, voting rights, public benefits including jury duties. The denials of these fundamental rights form the height of discriminatory levels including why the slavery narrative remains alive and not dead in the nation.
Due to the happenings, Alexander strongly believes that the problems African-Americans and other minority groups are facing are attributable to or consequence of inferior government policies that are purposeful. She affirms her belief that the problems cannot be associated to passive nature of Africans o collateral effects of poverty. She cites incarceration policy as one aspect that depicts the government’s hand in the atrocities the minority groups faces (Alexander 12). The incarceration was developed in a well-organized manner with the aim of advancing the racial control that functions in a similar way to the experience in Jim Crow’s period.
Alexander equally associates the 1982 war on drugs that was started by Reagan as another evidence of the rebirth of caste. This is apparent as the crack cocaine crisis was reportedly started and executed more on the ghettos as compared to high-end neighborhoods where the whites were living. The crackdown of drugs became painful especially when it turned to the epidemic levels in the ghetto areas. The federal drug authorities were even seen using scare tactics to mobilize support for the declared escalation (Alexander 16).
The unfair treatment of the minority groups and execution of the campaign is later affirmed by the CIA central intelligence agency. The body affirms that contra fiction was highly supported in the year 1980 period. The events unfolded when Nicaragua got involved I the smuggling of cocaine into the US.
This aspect is well covered in the chapter of the book that focuses on the lockdown. The chapter discusses the “rules of the game,” “just say no,” “unreasonable suspicion,” “poor excuse” among other elements. It majorly focuses on Alexander’s view on how the war on drugs has been used to disadvantage the Negroes and other minority groups. Accordingly, the lockdown as noted above gives a description of the structure of mass incarceration with the focus on the fight against drugs (Alexander 31). The war on drugs has led to the expansion of police powers and incentives that is being used to enslave Negros and other minority groups. She points out that the police often arrest African-Americans without valid justification as compared to the whites. She affirms this aspect on the part of unreasonable suspicion where she outlines how rules are modified in various situations regarding the person of color. That is rules are being twisted in favor of the whites but to the detriment of the blacks. The trend has resulted to the unfair search of the people of color discriminately without any warrant as compared to the natives. The searches are done with impunity and deliberately since the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution prohibits such unreasonable searches especially without warrants (Alexander 38).
Alexander concludes in the chapter by stating that the war on drugs has been applied discriminately as the people of color are being treated unfairly. They have become major victims of police brutality during the drug searches as compared to other people in the nation. The actions undertaken makes many people to become fearful hence, cannot even fight back the unlawful arrests and unfair treatment they receive from the police officers.
In chapter three of the book, Alexander discusses how race affects operations in the criminal justice system. The discussion is titled” the color of justice” and it is followed by a number of analysis areas that include “picking and choosing,” “the occupation,” “charging ahead,” “crack up” among others. In the chapter, Alexander presents dissatisfaction on how the people of color are being mistreated by the police including the criminal justice system. The people of color are not treated fairly in the entire system from the search points, arrest and charging periods (Alexander 49). At the preamble stages of this chapter, he recognizes the fact that most people in the US prisons are African-Americans and the Latinos. She also affirms that the black people are at a higher risk of being arrested than the whites. The chances of a black being arrested is at a ratio of 20 to 25 percent to that of a white. The major worrying trend is the deception about the war against drugs that only targets the blacks as prisons are full of blacks who are charged with drug-related offenses.
Alexander also narrates in the chapter how various institutions and entities in the US work towards frustrating the Negroes and other minority groups. The institutions he confirms include the police department, the judiciary, media stations ad some activist agencies. The media has been continually perpetrating racial imbalance and bias in the way they do reporting and selective recognition when they register any achievement (Alexander 56). The media has helped in creating the perception that criminals in the nation are Blacks. Even reports of mass gun shootings are highly attributable to the criminal acts before the white. The media has equally propagated the idea that African-Americans are irresponsible people hence they easily get involved in crime.
In the courts, Alexander reveals the levels of racial discrimination that exist or fueled by the “crack sentencing laws.” To support his argument, Alexander narrated an example of a controversial case that was between the United States v. Edward Clay. Based on the acts of the case, Edward Clay who was an African-American boy was treated unfairly in the case. The unfairness is evident as he was convicted of possessing crack cocaine for the first time. He was punished severely if compared to other cocaine users especially the whites who use powder cocaine. Alexander reports progress at the end of the chapter titled the end of an era” (Alexander 76). She affirms the Supreme Court’s determination of ending racial biasness in the court system. The move by the Supreme Court to streamline operation was in the year 2001. It has brought about some changes within the justice system but more needs to be done, as discrimination is still evident in the courts.
In chapter four of the book, Alexander continues with his displeasure on how Negroes and the minority groups are systematically being treated. She expresses her distinguished with the policy makers and leaders in the region. The chapter focuses on clear headings that include “the cruel hand”, “brave new world”, “no place like home” among others. According to the revelations in the chapter, Africans are being misunderstood in most instances. The discrimination and bias acts they face is because of misconception of their character including potentials. He explains that for a long time, Africans are being perceived as criminals and lawbreakers who hardly do the right thing at the right time (Alexander 98 The white community views them as lesser creatures. The perception has made them suffer from the cruel hand. Alexander used the term to argue the point that African-Americans are increasingly being mistreated by the some people or entities that contributed in developing human freedom. The denial of the granted freedoms is a testimony of increased levels of biasness in the nature.
In the brave new world, Alexander expressed the disclosure and effects of labeling of African-Americans as criminals. He asserts that the labeling is detrimental and will render the changes made in the court system and other sectors towards the restoration of equality meaningless. He used the brave new world symbolically to portray that possible outlook that criminal claims imposes on individuals (Alexander 122). The author also talks about life in prison and how to reform amidst the existing challenges such as the heightened discrimination witnessed against African-Americans.
Indeed, Alexander uses the analogy of The New Jim Crow to give a clear picture of the old racial caste system and mass incarceration. Similarly, he uses it to present the parallel aspects and similarities of the old racial caste systems and mass incarceration system that fosters the argument about the creation of a racial caste system of a modern age. This information is well covered in the entire book and specifically in chapter five. Alexander sarcastically begins his presentation to the audience by posing a question. The was “where have the black men gone?. The statement and various actions depict the negative stereotype, perception and attitude that Black-Americans receive in the nation. The stereotypes results to immense socio-economic and cultural unfairness, especially to the Negroes.
The chapter provides credible details on the numerous implicit treatments that the Negroes are subjected to I the nation. It details the implicit oppressive laws, mass incarceration regulations, police empowerment provisions and the biasness of the court system. The information shows how the minority groups are heavily overburdened in the system where they also suffer out of poverty and chronic health complications (Alexander 138). Based on the facts relating to the suffering or unfair treatment the blacks are subjected to, Alexander affirms the notion of racial indifference stating that it is the main contributor to the racial caste system of the past and present day. He compares the situations depicted in the study to that experienced in the old Jim Crow era. Therefore, the main theme that is underlying in the piece of writing is that mass incarceration remains the New Jim Crow. This is evident because of how it selectively traps the people of color and its similarity to the racial caste systems.
The book ends with a discussion of the how mass incarceration crisis can be death with using the present and future approaches. The discussion that is based on the subheading “the Fire This Time” is based on the seminal forewarning of James Baldwin. The best approach as believed by Alexander is the push for holistic reforms through the abroad based system of the social coalition. The approach that had been exploited I the past holds the capacity to help possibly manage the situation that threatens to disintegrate the nation further (Alexander 223). The move according to Alexander is bound to ignite the spirit of social care for one another that is highly needed for the nation to heal. It can also help in dealing with the causes of racial discrimination and unfair practices imposed on the Negroes on the bias of color difference.
In conclusion, Alexander summarizes that there is a great need for discrimination based on color difference and racial bias to end in the US. This is to foster social integration by allowing people of diverse gender, color and class to relate and share together with the aim of building a unified nation.
Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.
New York: New Press, 2010. Internet resource.