It’s not very often you come across a book in which you are tempted to highlight every phrase. “The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” is one of those books. Alexander deftly explains how the modern illusion of a colorblind American society allows a system in which the US has the highest rate of incarceration in the world and in some major cities 80% of African American men now have criminal records. If white men in America were jailed at the same rate of men of color, we would declare a national emergency.
One phrase struck me as a remarkably apt way of thinking about the problem of mass incarceration of African Americans and other people of color, “We really need to do something about the problem of white crime”. It’s a ludicrous statement. On the other hand mass incarceration of African Americans defines blackness in America. Black men are criminals, that is what is meant to be black.
It is clear from Alexander’s argument that the “war” on drugs with its insidious and comprehensive focus on poor black men has led to latest system of African American control, a modern version of Jim Crow suppression.