Takeways from The New Jim Crow

New Jim Crow book coverI just finished Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. I can’t recommend it enough. For everyone. READ IT NOW!

Here are some quotes that struck me:

“One in three young African American men is currently under the control of the criminal justice system – in prison, in jail, on probation, or on parole – yet mass incarceration tends to be categorized as a criminal justice issue as opposed to a racial justice or civil rights issue (or crisis).” Pg.9

“What is key to America’s understanding of class is the persistent belief – despite all evidence to the contrary – that anyone, with the proper discipline and drive, can move from a lower class to a higher class.” Pg.13

The rest are here:

“As described by Tom Watson, a prominent populist leader, in a speech advocating a union between black and white farmers: “You are kept apart that you may be separately fleeced of your earnings. You are made to hate each other because upon that hatred is rested the keystone of the arch of financial despotism that enslaves you both. You are deceived and blinded that you may not see how this race antagonism perpetuates a monetary system which beggars both.” ” Pg.33

“The War on Drugs proved popular among key white voters, particularly whites who remained resentful of black progress, civil rights enforcement, and affirmative action. Beginning in the 1970s, researchers found that racial attitudes – not crime rates or likelihood of victimization – are an important determinant of white support for “get tough on crime” and antiwelfare measures.” Pg.53

“Once a person is labeled a felon, he or she is ushered into a parallel universe in which discrimination, stigma, and exclusion are perfectly legal, and privileges of citizenship such as voting and jury duty are off-limits.” Pg.92

“Although the majority of illegal drug users and dealers nationwide are white, three-fourths of all people imprisoned for drug offenses have been black or Latino.” Pg.96-97

“[R]ates and patterns of drug crime do not explain the glaring racial disparities in our criminal justice system. People of all races use and sell illegal drugs at remarkably similar rates. If there are significant differences in the surveys to be found, they frequently suggest that whites, particularly white youth, are more likely to engage in illegal drug dealing than people of color. …[T]he very same year Human Rights Watch was reporting that African Americans were being arrested and imprisoned at unprecedented rates, government data revealed that blacks were no more likely to be guilty of drug crimes than whites and that white youth were actually the most likely of any racial or ethnic group to be guilty of illegal drug possession and sales.” Pg.97

“[B]lack men have been admitted to state prison on drug charges at a rate that is more than thirteen times higher than white men. The racial bias inherent in the drug war is a major reason that 1 in every 14 black men was behind bars in 2006, compared with 1 in every 106 white men. …One in 9 black men between the ages of twenty and thirty-five was behind bars in 2006.” Pg.98

“The [Baldus] study found that defendants charged with killing white victims received the death penalty eleven times more often than defendants charged with killing black victims.” Pg.107

“The widespread and mistaken belief that racial animus is necessary for the creation and maintenance of racialized systems of control is the most important reason that we, as a nation, have remained in deep denial.” Pg.178

“Our understanding of racism is …shaped by the most extreme expressions of individual bigotry, not by the way in which it functions naturally …when it is embedded in the structure of a social system.” Pg.178-179

“Mass incarceration has nullified many of the gains of the Civil Rights Movement, putting millions of black men back in a position reminiscent of Jim Crow.” Pg.187

“Studies have shown that joblessness – not race or black culture – explains the high rates of violent crime in poor black communities.” Pg.204


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