The New Jim Crow

Blanche’s book Club: ‘The New Jim Crow’.

It’s a holiday weekend! I know this whole year has just sort of ran together, but the weekends still feel different to me and I’m happy to have an extra day to relax.

It’s very likely that I’ll be spending my time reading, per usual. I am still mixing in educational books to help myself learn more about racism in America, so I’m excited to share the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club: “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander. Here’s the scoop:

Seldom does a book have the impact of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. Since it was first published in 2010, it has been cited in judicial decisions and has been adopted in campus-wide and community-wide reads; it helped inspire the creation of the Marshall Project and the new $100 million Art for Justice Fund; it has been the winner of numerous prizes, including the prestigious NAACP Image Award; and it has spent nearly 250 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

Most important of all, it has spawned a whole generation of criminal justice reform activists and organizations motivated by Michelle Alexander’s unforgettable argument that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” As the Birmingham News proclaimed, it is “undoubtedly the most important book published in this century about the U.S.”

Now, ten years after it was first published, The New Press is proud to issue a tenth-anniversary edition with a new preface by Michelle Alexander that discusses the impact the book has had and the state of the criminal justice reform movement today.

This book has been on my list probably since it came out and I don’t know why it took me this long to read it. It was really informative about the justice system — I knew it was flawed, but this really but facts and stories behind it, and it helped me understand all of the ways in which it is problematic.

Here’s just a few of the things I noted:

  • The term mass incarceration refers not only to the criminal justice system but also to the larger web of laws, rules, policies, and customs that control those labeled criminals both in and out of prison.
  • Nothing has contributed more to the systematic mass incarceration of people of color in the United States than the War on Drugs.
  • The fundamental right to a lawyer that Americans assume applies to everyone accused of criminal conduct effectively does not exist in practice for countless people across the United States.
  • Even when released from the system’s formal control, the stigma of criminality lingers.

Again, I feel really lucky and thankful that I started with “Stamped From the Beginning” by Ibram X. Kendi. The book touched on the subject of mass incarceration, and this book picked up where “Stamped” left off.

The criminal justice system in America is something that has fascinated and infuriated me over the years. This book really laid out HOW the system got to be this way.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who’s educating themselves on racism in America, especially incarceration. It’s a critical part of systemic racism that’s worth educating yourself about.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “Sex & Vanity” by Kevin Kwan — I’m so excited for this one!

I will also be writing about re-reading the “Baby-sitters Club” books tomorrow, and then on Monday… drumroll… it’s the release of the 2020 Fall Reading Guide!

Have a great weekend everyone!

For more book recommendations, be sure to subscribe to the blog (look to the right) and follow me on Goodreads @thebitterlemon – where I share more of my book picks. Need help with your blog? I can help with all of your digital marketing efforts – just let me know!

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