The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

TheNew Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander


TheNew Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

TheNew Jim Crow by Alexander Michelle (2011) contains well thoughtargument of racial discrimination. Alexander took time, many years,to capture the ideology of racial caste in United States.Irrespective of the time, she managed to structure her ideas andcompiled them successfully.

Michelle’sthesis is that to understand America’s history there is a need tofamiliarize with the major groups of social-justice advocates. Thestruggle between the two groups is termed to be cyclical. One groupfights for equality in races while the other advocates for prolongracial caste system that ascribes people of color to a permanentlyinferior prestige. If those who advocates for social caste happens tobe in power, they push for systems of racial control that prolonginequality via discriminatory decree. None of the system reigns forlong since unavoidably, the injustice is detected, and the massmovements rise to retaliate against the system. Lastly, promoters ofsocial-justice rise up and overthrow the current system of racialcontrol. Notably, the group redesign itself and formulates new systemalong with new ideas and comes to take the place of the old systemusing a different perception of reasoning and validation toaccomplish same outcome.

Inchapter one, alexander explains the rebirth of caste. Specifically,she tries to review the history of social control in the UnitedStates. She continues to describe the changing forms andrematerializing patterns of racial caste system. The racial castesystem in form of racial hierarchy have been able to rematerializeafter successful downfalls of slavery and dismantling of the originalJim Crow. Alexander Michelle believes this can only be accomplishedby appealing to the preconceptions and the insecurities of theinferior class of the whites.

Inchapter two, Alexander explains the phenomenon of lock down. Lockdown majorly describes the configuration of mass incarceration,aiming on the war on drugs. She expounds on the law that tends toexpand powers along with incentives of the police and the fate ofthose become entrapped by the stated system of ruling. Those who arearrested seldom receive enormous legal representation. On the samenote, they are pressured into plea bargain deals hence chances forfreeing themselves are highly curtailed.

Inthe next chapter, she points out about the color of justice.Alexander describes the grounds of justice in the United States wherejustice is based on color. She further elaborates that criminaljustice system nowadays executes justice disproportionately based on“black and brown men”. Black men representing the Africans whilebrown men, the whites.

Inchapter four, she focus on the cruel hand. Michelle discuss the cruelhand as the reaction and the treatment of the prisoner once he or sheis released back to the society. Formal discrimination, socialstigmatization and barbaric actions follows to the victim ofimprisonment hence disheartening re-entry to the entire society.Alexander describes this behavior as the social structures thatdifferentiate people mostly those of inner city African-Americans.

Inthe second last chapter, Alexander focuses on the New Jim Crow. Shepoints out the critical parallelism of similarities between massincarceration and the prior Jim Crow legal system. She points out howthe two prior and the current system relates functionally and theiroverall effect. Similarities according to Michelle includes racialhumiliation, ignominy, intricate system of control characterized bylegal discrimination. Contrariwise, the systems differ considerably.

Inthe last chapter, she describes the theme of ‘the fire this time’.Alexander in explaining the theme of the fire this time, she connectsthe issue of present and the future approaches in dealing with theelephant issue: mass incarceration. She believes that due to cyclicalnature of the system, coming up with reforms as usual will not yieldthe expected result. There will be possibly inevitably injusticewhere another social justice advocates ultimately appears to rule outthe old system. The fire will forewarn next time. She believes in theaddressing of the causes and the ill of the society and the genuineresponsibility for every individual irrespective of race, background,class or other grounds.

Ingeneral, the drug war has become part and parcel of the Americapolitics. In addition, they is no big issue in drug trafficking sincethe law has be overwhelmed to every individual accordingly. But thepractice of the law has being subjectively amended in certaininterest: racial discrimination. Alexander in her book, cites somefacts which adds knowledge I never came across. I realize that, sheincluded a successions of court precedents that contributed toimpossibility for the criminal defendants to contend racism on theside of the police or prosecutors as a defense.

Incurrent and global events, there is a lot of discrimination. Thebasis of discrimination depends on many issues depending on the levelof conceptualized judgments. Alexander illuminates the genuine way ofresponsibility which should be done irrespective of gender, color,backgrounds, ethnicity, or other considerations.

Inconclusion, Alexander expresses the issue of the social-justice in aprudent and logic manner. The development of the New Jim Crow isbuilds under juxtaposition. Alexander compares prior system of socialjustice of Jim Crow with the current. The former discriminationsystem of slavery is compared to the mass incarceration which furtherexplains the current situation of drug war in America.


Alexander,M. (2011). Thenew Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness.TheNew Press.