Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The New Jim Crow: Chapter 1

 Haley Scholars Fall 2013 Reading Groups

"The notion of racial differences--specifically the notion of white supremacy--proved far more durable than the institution that gave birth to it" (26). --Michelle Alexander

In chapter 1 of her book The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander traces the history of slavery up to and through the rise and apparent fall of Jim Crow as a kind of racial caste system. She goes on to discuss the possible foundations of the "get tough on crime movement," which would somehow contribute to "the emergence of a penal system unprecedented in world history" (42).

Alexander goes on to explain how shifts and divisions from the Civil Rights Movement up through political campaigns and presidential policies, including those of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton solidified conditions for a modern-day system of racial caste.

What aspect of the history that Alexander presents was most notable or surprising to you? Why did that point attract your attention?   


Robert F said...

The book is called "The New Jim Crow" so when she referred back to slavery that jumped out at me a little. I feel like the best way to predict the future is to look at the past, and that is exactly what she did to prove her point. I feel like once she has pointed out all these similarities, she should suggest different possibilities to improve the system we are currently living in. She does have a point, there seems to be a pattern to always ensure there is always a racial caste system in place.

Jeremy H said...

As weird as it may seem most of the author's historic examples did not surprise me such as the extermination of Indians or the classification of Africans as sub-human, during slavery. What shocked me was the quote by Lerone Bennett Jr. That before slavery we colonial whites and blacks worked and relaxed together under equal conditions.
Jeremy H.

Dj Sterling said...

The notable part of history that Alexander had brought out for me was when she said that the idea of racial hierarchy was created because it "eliminated the risk of future alliances between black slaves and poor whites" (25). I always assumed that the racial hierarchy was in the United States ever since the first few colonies were established, but it seems that this didn't occur until after Bacon's Rebellion. Alexander brought out how the "planter elite" strategically imported more slaves directly from Africa and gave a few more privileges to the poor whites to drive the wedge between the two races.

Nicholas M. said...

I would not say this is surprising, but this really caught my attention."As African Americans obtained political power and began the long march toward greater social equality, whites reacted with panic and outrage" (35). When you sit down and think about it, this is where the unfair treatment of African Americans began, in the Reconstruction era.

Joshua Jones said...

In "The New Jim Crow" she talks about how slavery was still a form of punishment for prisoners, until the Ruffin vs. Commonwealth case. I was attracted to this because even though the prisoners are not slaves they are still not free.

Emmanuel O. said...

The most notable thing that has showed up so far in "The New Jim Crow" was the fact that as more African Americans were gainig political power, more white people were becoming enraged. This was notable but not suprising because this was the expected behavior of the time.