The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander

“Racism is highly adaptable.”

Growing up, it was very easy for me to look at my surroundings and think I lived in a post-racial world. There was no segregated pools or bathrooms. I saw celebrities and politicians on television from different backgrounds. Criminals were criminals because of their poor decisions, not because of crooked cops or corrupt judges.

And then I grew up and my idealistic views crashed with reality.

Criminal justice reform is a difficult topic to debate. Things seem simple, right? If you don’t want to end up in jail, don’t break the law? But it’s not that simple.

Why is it that more black men are incarcerated for drugs when drug use among white males is just as prevalent? Why is a crack user put in jail for a decade when a drunk driver only gets probation especially when alcohol related deaths are astronomically higher than most drugs?

The Jim Crow laws of the late 19th and early 20th century may have been objectively colorblind, but the men who created these laws were explicitly and proudly racist. They openly created these laws to disenfranchise black men and women while complying with federal government. Over time Jim Crow was dismantled, but racism did not disappear. Racism adapts and it adapts fast. Soon new legislators created new laws to get tough on crime. Though their intentions were not overtly racist, their actions followed a racist pattern. They created a society on racist structures somewhat unknowingly.

This book is great is uncovering the veil that seemingly hides racism. As the author states, “Our understanding of racism is therefore shaped by the most extreme expressions of individual bigotry, not by the way in which it functions naturally, almost invisibly, when it is embedded in the structure of a social system.”

This is a great book. You will learn more about yourself and the society we have built in America.