Race and Racism in Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow

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“The New Jim Crow” is a wonderful account on the revival of a racially biased society in the United States. Race is defined as a group of human beings distinguished by a common origin, shared habits, and interests or same physical attributes. Racism, on the other hand, refers to the discrimination against an individual based on their race.

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Racism can be extended to include the belief that a given race has specific attributes which makes it superior or inferior compared to other races. This paper will seek to address race and racism by critically reviewing “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander.

Jim Crow refers to a section of the state constitution used to impose discrimination policies based on color, social class or family background. In that regard, members of the African-American community were not able to access equal social and political opportunities simply because they were believed to come from an inferior race. Though the Jim Crow sections of the state constitutions supporting racial segregation have been done away with, the current American legal system has changed to be “The New Jim Crow.” And so, African-Americans and other minority groups in the United States are made to serve unfair legal restrictions which undermine their privileges as American citizens. Despite many people believing that racial discrimination ended in the 1960s thanks to a number of civil rights movements, Michelle Alexander through “The New Jim Crow” gives a picture of how government institutions are up to suppress the achievement of a one race society. The legal system is not consistent in its administration of justice. “The same supreme court that had ordered integration and encouraged civil rights legislation” was now “bending over backwards to help criminals” who were terrorizing black people (Alexander 42). Again, the shortening of jail sentences for African-Americans will not serve to improve the well-being of the color community, but constitutional amendments to eradicate partisan racial policies will prove significant in changing the American racial narrative.

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