TheNew Jim Crow Book Review

The New Jim Crow is a social and political book that addresses theissue of how the war on drugs has become a new way of enforcing a newRacial Caste. Here ‘caste’ is described as a stigmatized group ofpeople of a particular race locked in an inferior position by customsand law (Alexander, 2010). Jim Crow was the title of a racial castesystem that was in operation from 1877 to 1960’s. During this time,African Americans were treated as citizens of a lower class.

Chapter one: TheRebirth of Caste. She examines the history of the different racialcastes that have been in existence from the times of slavery to thenew age mass incarceration which she calls the New Jim Crow. At everystage of oppression she clearly shows the strategies that theoppressors used to curb resistance from the oppressed. She shows ushow the idea of racism developed. In this chapter she introduces hercentral theme and that is there is a new racial caste system herewith us in our generation.

Chapter two: TheLockdown discusses the war on drugs. She gives a history of this.This war started in the latter half of the 20th century.Here she discusses the sinister thing about this system which is thatit is not openly racial. On the surface these laws against drugsappear to apply to everyone but on a deeper analysis it is revealedthat they mostly apply to people of color. This racial discriminationis not an accident(Alexander, 2010). She brings out a persuasiveargument that the people who created the drug war planned it thisway.

Chapter three:the color of justice. Here she explains how the laws and practices ofa non-racial Criminal Justice System are put in place to assure thatthe results are discriminatory. There is statistical proof providedthat Whites buy, sell and use drugs just as much as the Latinos andBlacks but yet they are not featured in most drug raids. The justicesystem deliberately goes against the Fourth Amendment rights in thename of conducting drug raids. The law enforcers are ever becomingmore militarized while dealing with people of color. She examines thedecisions made by the Supreme Court that erode the legal defenseagainst the implementation of racially oriented drug war. Pgs. 106through to 112 talk about the decision of the Supreme Court on thecase of McKlesky v. Kemp which nullifies the protections specified inthe 8th and 14th amendment.

Chapter four: TheCruel Hand. This chapter focuses on the life of people who have beenreleased from prison i.e. ex-offenders. It examines the sufferingsthat these people face to get into society. She shows the effects ofracial caste after prison life. This system operates to make surethat ex-offenders don’t find work and decent housing (Alexander2010). These people live their life in everlasting criminalization.This makes them live their life in constant shame. It talks about howthe entire black community is torn apart by this and eventually turnsagainst itself.

Chapter five: TheNew Jim Crow. This chapter discusses the difference between theoriginal Jim Crow and the new one. The new one involves massincarceration centered on marginalization. The old one was aimed atcontrolling and exploiting the black people’s labor while the newone is aimed at deeming a certain population as needless to thefunctioning of the world’s economy. It looks at our understandingof racism and how the two systems have aided in our definition ofRacism as Americans. Pg. 179 introduces the birdcage metaphor that iscrucial to understanding why the new system may be more lasting thanits predecessor.

Chapter six: TheFire This Time. This chapter examines what the new racial caste meansfor the future of advocacy of civil rights. Here a solution fordefeating this system is presented and this is that there is anurgent need to change some elements of the general public that makeit impossible to defeat this system (Alexander, 2010). It is alsonecessary that there be an emergence of a movement that takes care ofeach and every human being. If an effort isn’t done to end thisracism then America will never see the end of Racial Caste.

This book is wellorganized. The authorconveys her ideas well because she providessubstantial proof to support her arguments. She has addressed anissue in our society that few are ready to acknowledge. The book isan enlightenment to those who think that the age of racism is comingto an end. This book has shown me that young black men are beingimprisoned at the prime of their youth and by the time they get outthey cannot be useful to the society. This deprives them of anaccomplished life.

This book taught me some things that I was not aware of. Theseare that there is a popular notion that racism is decreasing in thisage of Barack Obama (Alexander, 2010). This is not true because theresearch results she presents shows that America, in the entireworld, imprisons the largest percentage of its minorities. I havelearned that racism is not in its last years, it has just taken a newform. From the book I have learned that social control does not endwhen the convict leaves prison but instead it continues through aseries of laws that violate their human rights. I learned thatpoliticians use the Drug war as an aspect of their campaign.

This book’s content is applicable to current events. We seedrug raids glamourized on the news which makes us think that this waris protecting us which makes us overlook the violation of humanrights. This gives the system the support it needs to continue withtheir brutality. The author displays a lot of courage by expressingthese not so popular views.


Alexander Mitchell (2010). The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration inthe Age of Colorblindness, The New Press, New York.