Those who read my reviews know that nonfiction books are not my thing, but I agreed to read The New Jim Crow so that we could discuss it.
Her primary reaction to the book appeared to me to focus on mass incarceration than the racial aspects of the book. My reaction was mixed. As a former student in the social sciences, I was well aware of the idea that African-Americans are over represented in the prison system. I was hoping to read a discussion of that phenomena and ways to change it. What I felt I got was a tired rehash of the history of how blacks (the author uses that identifier so I guess I can too) have been incarcerated in vast numbers. I don't dispute that claim, but the author wrote in a way that made her points difficult to understand at times. For instance she talks quite a bit about how affirmative action has not really been as helpful as intended though she benefited from the policy. She alluded to such policies actually keeping people of color oppressed.Then she calls for more government regulation into hiring and such. It seems that she is actually calling for people of color to be further under governmental control to free them from governmental control.
The most disappointing aspect of this book (and others like it)? The complete lack of attention to a very basic point. In the case of mass incarceration perhaps if we encouraged people to not commit the crimes in the first place, incarceration would be less of a concern. Length of sentencing based on ethnicity may well be a provable fact and surely needs attention and reform. But no mention of refraining from criminal behavior is just sad. As a student I disagreed with the notion that poor socio-economic status led to more crime. Not that it doesn't show statistically, but being poor is not an excuse. Wrong is wrong, illegal is illegal, I believe there are many more honest people who are economically disadvantaged than there are criminals.
What we have here is a book which takes a huge, complex social problem and tries to reduce it to race and money. The problem involves so many more components that it is difficult to address in a single book. I my opinion this book misses all the way around.