The New Jim Crow
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness challenges the conventional wisdom that with the election of Barack Obama as president, our nation has “triumphed over race.” Jim Crow laws were wiped off the books decades ago, but today an astounding percentage of the African American community is warehoused in prisons or trapped in a permanent, second-class status, much like their grandparents before them who lived under an explicit system of racial control. Alexander argues that the sudden and dramatic mass incarceration of African American men, primarily through the War on Drugs, has created a new racial under caste – a group of people defined largely by race that is subject to legalized discrimination, scorn, and social exclusion.
The old forms of discrimination – discrimination in employment, housing, education, and public benefits; denial of the right to vote; and exclusion from jury service – are suddenly legal once you’re labeled a felon. She challenges the civil rights community, and all of us, to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.
Alexander’s current work reflects lessons learned in her previous career as a civil rights lawyer and advocate in both the private and non-profit sector. For several years, Professor Alexander served as the Director of the Racial Justice Project for the ACLU of Northern California, where she helped to lead a national campaign against racial profiling by law enforcement. While an associate at Saperstein, Goldstein, Demchak & Baller, she specialized in plaintiff-side class action lawsuits alleging race and gender discrimination.
Professor Alexander is a graduate of Stanford Law School and Vanderbilt University. Following law school, she clerked for Justice Harry A. Blackmun on the United States Supreme Court, and for Chief Judge Abner Mikva on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Alexander, Michelle, "The New Jim Crow" (2013). The John W. Hager Distinguished Lecture in Law. 1.