The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander

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The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness is a book by Michelle Alexander, a civil rights litigator and legal scholar. The book discusses race-related issues specific to African-American males and mass incarceration in the United States. Michelle Alexander (2010) argues that despite the old Jim Crow is death, does not necessarily means the end of racial caste (p.21). In her book “The New Jim Crow”, Alexander describes a set of practices and social discourses that serve to maintain African American people controlled by institutions. In this book her analyses is centered in examining the mass incarceration phenomenon in recent years. Comparing Jim Crow with mass incarceration she points out that mass incarceration is a network of laws, policies, customs and institutions that works together –almost invisible– to ensure the subordinate status of a group defined by race, African American (p. 178 -190).

Alexander (2010) describes the New Jim Crow as a moment where society have already internalized the stereotypes of African American men as violent and more likely to commit crimes and where mass incarceration has been normalized – especially in poor areas– . That is, today is seen as normal that black parents are missing in their homes because they are in institutions of control (p.181). She also stresses American society denies racism when they assume the justice system works. Therefore, she claims that “mass incarceration is colorblind” (p.183). American society does not see the race biased within the institutions of control.

Alexander (2010) suggests mass incarceration as a system of racialized social control that functions in the same way Jim Crow did. She describes how people that have been incarcer...


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...ople (p.195).

7) Symbolic production of race. Perhaps this is the most important category of her analyses. She stresses that mass incarceration as Jim Crow and slavery define and reinforce what being a black person means. During slavery being black meant to be a slave. During Jim Crow meant to be a second class citizen. And mass incarceration defines black people, especially men, as criminals.
We can conclude with her analyses that the criminal justice in America is biased an even though I don’t agree with the suggestion Alexander has heard from other people that mass incarceration is a “conspiracy to put blacks back in their place” (p.5). It is clear that the justice system in the US is not completely fair, and that collective action must arise to struggle it.





Works Cited

Alexander, M. (2010). The New Jim Crow. New York, NY: The New Press.


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