This study guide refers to the 10th anniversary edition published in 2020 by the New Press.Between the 1870s and 1960s, legal segregation, racially targeted voting laws, and a host of other political, legal, and cultural forces effectively ...
Author: Emilie Perly
The New Jim Crow Summary and Study Guidehe New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness is a nonfiction book published in 2010 by American author and legal scholar Michelle Alexander. The book argues that the War on Drugs and mass incarceration operate as tools of racialized social control and oppression, not unlike the system in place during the Jim Crow era in the American South. The winner of the NAACP Image Award for Nonfiction, The New Jim Crow continues to appear on countless racial justice reading lists and was named one of the most influential books of the past 20 years by the Chronicle of Higher Education. This study guide refers to the 10th anniversary edition published in 2020 by the New Press.Between the 1870s and 1960s, legal segregation, racially targeted voting laws, and a host of other political, legal, and cultural forces effectively transformed Black men and women living in the American South into second-class citizens-or, as Alexander puts it, members of a "racial undercaste" (129). This period of American history is known as the Jim Crow era. While civil rights legislation in the 1960s eliminated this specific form of oppression and disenfranchisement, a new form of racialized social control emerged in the 1980s: mass incarceration. With the launch of the War on Drugs and a series of draconian crime bills, the number of incarcerated Americans skyrocketed in less than three decades from 300,000 to over 2 million, most of them for drug convictions and most of them Black men. This transpired even though white and Black Americans sell and use drugs at roughly the same rates. Far from being an effective system of crime deterrence, Alexander argues that mass incarceration increases violent crime. Given that the United States declared the War on Drugs before Americans even perceived drug use to be a serious problem, this leads Alexander to conclude that mass incarceration was designed as a system of racial control rather than an effort to combat violent crime...