The New Jim Crow is a book that elucidates the many types of similarities that exists between the former legal systems of Jim Crow and the present practice of accumulated incarceration with regards to the racial minorities.
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According to Alexander, most of the individuals in the United States of America who are colored are devastated and targeted by the system of justice of the United States of America. Most of the cases that are brought to court are via the main tool that has been chosen by the authorities to combat the menace to the society.
This main tool has been labeled the “war on drugs”. It has been misused by the authorities to oppress the minorities in the country. The federal court system has rendered the suits that are based on racial bias ineffective. Alexander (2010) in the introduction of her book wrote:
“Knowing as I do the difficulty of seeing what most everyone insists does not exist; I anticipate that this book will be met with skepticism or something worse. For some, the characterization of mass incarceration as a ‘racial caste system’ may seem like a gross exaggeration, if not hyperbole.” (p. 2-5)
Alexander further elucidates the fact that “Jim Crow and slavery were caste systems. So is our current system of incarceration” (Alexander 2010). This was like in the case of Jim Crow.
Whatever the case, there is an element of legalized discrimination that physically detaches as well as marginalizes a large portion of the African American community.
This is more so, for the ones who are presently in the ghettos as well as in penal institutions. The system then goes ahead and allows for their second-rate treatment in quite a number of areas. In the present day situations, the forming of a separating line amid “us” and” “them” has been facilitated by the replacement of the disgrace of criminality which has taken over the stigma of race.
The author has been able to bring forth the fact that Americans are quite abashed about the history of race in the country. This is exposed by the fact that the racial and caste systems are still enforced and are quite evident in prisons. The number of African Americans who get imprisoned for drug related incidences is appalling.
This goes to show that the criminal justice system somehow has an affinity for the white folks in the nation. The rate of drug related cases is quite high with the majority of the incarcerated people being African Americans. This is not proportional to the number of white folks in jail for the same reasons.
The belief that an African American is more likely to commit a felon in comparison to a white person is quite misconstrued. A white person is quite likely to commit a felon as much as an African American in the same situation. The color of the skin does not dictate the actions that an individual may perform.
The author argues that in any case, a person of the white race is more likely to commit a drug related felony than an African American because of the belief that he/she may get away with it more easily. This assumption is reliant on the system and the loopholes that it offers for the individual.
Alexander said, “The clock has been turned back on racial progress in America, though scarcely anyone seems to notice. All eyes are fixed on people like Obama and Oprah Winfrey who have defied the odds and achieved great power, wealth and fame” (Alexander, 2010). The author stresses the fact that the system encourages the enhancement of the laws that state that people of color ought to be treated by an entire range of discrimination measures. This is in several aspects such as employment, housing, voting rights etc.
In the book, the author states that she recognized the policies that were being implemented on a large scale regarding the incarceration of masses. These policies were developed quite fast and subsequently implemented with equal speed. The author states that the implementation of the policies was a “comprehensive and well-disguised system of racialized control that functions in a manner strikingly similar to Jim Crow” (Alexander 2010).
Alexander sums up her book by stating the unswerving fact that “Once you’re labeled a felon, the old forms of discrimination – employment discrimination, housing discrimination, denial of the right to vote, denial of educational opportunity, denial of food stamps and other public benefits, and exclusion from jury service – are suddenly legal.” She goes ahead and further states that “As a criminal, you have scarcely more rights, and largely less respect, than a black man living in Alabama at the height of Jim Crow.
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We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” With this as her basis for an argument, the author firmly states that there is evident progression in the types of “racial control”. This is necessitated by the evolving situations as well as the modern-day norms. This implies that slavery was replaced by the Jim Crow laws which had been in turn replaced by the present-day “criminal justice”.
Alexander, M. (2010). The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York, NY: The New Press.