“A education, public benefits, and jury service. Those labeled


“A criminal record today authorizes precisely the forms of
discrimination we supposedly left behind—discrimination in employment, housing,
education, public benefits, and jury service. Those labeled criminals can even
be denied the right to vote.” — Michelle Alexander.  In the book “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander it does not only
talk about the Jim Crow Laws, it also talks mass incarceration and the racial
caste system that has been going on. Alexander also talks about the war on
drugs in which was a big factor throughout the book. In this essay I will be
explaining why I am convinced by Alexander’s argument about what is needed to
end mass incarceration and permanently eliminate the racial caste system in the
United States. Alexander states “…if we hope ever to abolish the New Jim Crow.
This new consensus must begin with dialogue…” that is saying that to end
anything you have to first acknowledge the problem.

Alexander starts off talking a lot
about how blacks were treated during slavery time. Along with that, she also talks
about how they were treated during the Martin Luther King era as well. We are
taught that whites hate black and that blacks hate white; but the main problem

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

Watkins 2

is that we just think that blacks are not as worthy as whites
in everyday life. In my opinion everyone can do whatever they put their minds
to. Alexander also mentions that “darker in color or people that appear more
stereotypically black are more likely to be considered a felon than people that
are lighter in color or appear more stereotypically white” that is shocking to

The mass incarceration was based on
drug charges to be created as a form of racial control in which it supposed to
keep people of color in permanent states of economic, political and social
marginalization.  Negros are treated
differently even when some of the things they do are more appointed to white
people. Even with the racial caste systems being the way that they are, it
always must be something different. Some people think just because of the class
structure by birth, which is stated that if our parents are poor than we will
turn around and be poor just like them. That statistic goes in the same affect
for the rich people as well.

Then again, the book has different
views on how certain things like mass incarceration and the racial caste
systems may or may not end. History of racial caste systems in America argues
different systems of racist control prone that racism is adaptable and will
change to suit an era. Racial caste system was mainly set up from the
beginning, starting with denying citizenship. Which started after slavery ended
to keep African Americans not fully free in America.

Caste systems lock people up behind
bars literally and virtually. Alexander shows in her book that our rhetoric of
colorblindness disguises the reality of the racial caste system.

Watkins 3

Alexander quotes “in the era of colorblindness, it is no
longer socially permissible to use race, explicitly, as a justification for
discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt.” Majority of the people behind
bars are African American males. By saying that, the evidence shows that
African Americans have the highest intention rates in different cities and

Currently one in every three young
African American males will end up spending time in prisons. More than half of
them are either incarcerated, on parole or either on probation. In the world today,
there is always a stereotype that African American males will always in up in
jail.  A lot of people thought since
Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States and
that some of the laws were overturning, that the caste is fading away.

People thought that just because of what all was happening in the United
States, that things would change. No, that is not true, the new Jim Crow is
still in effect and those arrested who are also labeled criminals are still
connected to the second class. Alexander presents a few data that explodes the
assumptions and stereotypes in the racial caste system. Her first fact that she
presents is dealing with drug use while a lot of people think that people of
color use, buy and sell more than whites, this is false. As shown in the New Jim Crow according to the Human
Rights Watch “Although the majority of illegal drug users and dealers
nationwide are white”.

  The second
point she talks about is unfair policing practice in which police officers tend
to go into poor African American neighborhoods. Even though Police officers have
the right to stop anyone for any reason but don’t. It seems like they do not
have any training at all in how

Watkins 4

to look for drug users. This is in fact very true I have seen
that the police do not know how to search people. Just thought because I am an
African American female hanging with black males that I had drugs on me,
Proverbs states that “birds of a feather flock together.”

To me that is funny because a lot of
people wonder why African American men are missing for so long and it seems
like no one notices they are even gone, until after a while. War on drugs was a
campaign of prohibition that led to mass incarceration in which African
American’s were targeted. Although, the majority of drug offenders were whites.
Human Rights Watch “Although the majority of illegal drug users and dealers
nationwide are white”. African American people were brought to America and sold
as cheap labor. African Americans were then placed at the bottom of the racial
caste system.

Jim Crow and Mass Incarceration was
created in order to redirect the anger of the working – class whites away from
economic issues toward the scapegoat, that is people of color.  Mass incarceration from the drug war
perspective is colorblind which makes it a permanent statement. On the other
hand, the under – class African Americans are working to end mass incarceration
the same way they were in the case of the Jim Crow.  Mass incarceration is not new in American
history. Such as the court case Board of Education, which talked about people
of color and whites attending the same school or even the same public

Mass Incarceration affects the entire
community of color and extends beyond controlling preventing crime. Young men of
color are more likely to go to jail instead of college

Watkins 5

and that is why a lot of parents and elderly people are
trying to change that. Alexander does elaborate on how the black community
tried to deal with mass incarceration. Some say to start by being well behaved,
doing well in school, dressing properly and also keeping the amount of music on
a low level. None of that should even matter to the fact that it is not only
blacks that do it but also whites and other races as well that does that do it

Everyone sees all the sagging, playing loud music and driving cars with
big rims on it but sometimes it’s not just that. If you get the chance to sit
down and get to know the person that’s doing the things, they are not what
others think. White people think that just because African Americans do those
things that they are terrible people but that does not describe all of us
African Americans at all. Even W.E.B. Du Bois said “Negroes must insist
continually, in season and out of season, that voting is necessary to modern
manhood, that color discrimination is barbarism, and that black boys need
education as well as white boys.”  Alexander
comes to point out that it is very impossible for young black men to behave
perfectly all the time.

 I agree, we all are human and humans mess up,
if you look at it God was not even perfect. Plus why should they have to be
perfect anyways? When the world turns around and looks at that young white men,
they say he can rule the world and make mistakes. Although, when it comes to
our black men they have to be extra careful when they mess up or even when they
break a law. When it comes to the person of color the law enforcement feels
like being overly punitive which they will subject to the injustice of the
current system of mass


Watkins 6


Even in this time we still see blacks
get mistreated, even right here on UNCP campus. I have seen it with my own eyes
that African Americans here on campus get pushed to their breaking point with
racial slurs. On the news you have seem African Americans get sentenced as
adults, that is why in chapter 6 alexander moves to point of why civil rights
community are not very vocal or active in addressing mass incarceration.
African Americans are no better off now than in 1968. Many people don’t think
so but the poverty and unemployment rates do not even include the people behind

If we want to end mass incarceration and the racial caste system there is
a lot of things that America will have to do. America will have to end the war
on drugs. That is not only going to be done by making a law or a court
decision. Racial profiling must end, the culture of law enforcements must
change, marijuana must be legalized, mandatory drug sentences will have to
change as well if we want this to come to an end.






goodreads.com. Web. 5 Dec. 2017.


Web. 5 Dec. 2017.