Who is Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow?

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caroline-harrison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Michelle Alexander is a civil rights attorney and the author of The New Jim Crow. Before writing her book, Alexander was the director of the Racial Justice Project at the ACLU. Despite being an advocate for racial justice and civil rights, Alexander did not immediately make the connection between Jim Crow and the current epidemic of mass incarceration until later in her career. In the book’s preface, Alexander acknowledges that she is writing this book for people like herself ten years ago; those who care about racial injustices but do not understand nor appreciate the magnitude of America’s race issues. Alexander describes how she began working at the ACLU thinking that racial bias in the criminal justice system was not much different than the racial bias that permeates nearly all social institutions. However, after several years, Alexander began to suspect that the racial injustice of mass incarceration was much more severe than she had initially thought. Eventually she, like many other lawyers and activists, began to connect the dots and discover the unsettling parallels between mass incarceration and Jim Crow. Ultimately, Alexander argues that, like slavery and Jim Crow, mass incarceration is yet another form of racial control.

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The New Jim Crow

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