The New Jim Crow is not for everyone says the author Michelle Alexander in the first line of the book. It took me some time to finish this story — not just because it is lengthy — but because it is not just “his -story” but because it is our story. The story of lives lost after the great migration from cotton fields to urban ghettos. The story of lost dreams of men, women, and children of color. The story of a caste system with no bottom. The story of how black men, in the land of the free, are doomed to socio-economic injustice, poverty, and a lifetime of virtual and real isolation from mainstream American society.
The author shares chapter by chapter, her evidence of how slavery, replaced by Jim Crow, has been replaced by mass incarceration with the same intent of marginalization of blacks. In the end, the book discusses strategies to reverse the trends of mass incarceration. However, the tone set in the last chapters leads one to feel hopelessness as the ills of injustice are structural and would require the massive public will to transition to a true society that emits justice and freedom for all. The book ends with a quote from James Baldwin’s, The Fire Next time.
“The Very time I thought I was lost; my dungeon shook and my chains fell off. We cannot be free until they are free. God bless you and God speed.“
The New Jim Crow may not be for everyone as declared by the author, but given the social unrest of 2020 it is suggested reading for more.