US Prisons, The New Jim Crow

Lecture by Michelle Alexander. Watch the video. A former liberal discusses her awakening. Some of her analysis comes dangerously close to the ARV/ATS position that the lumpenproletariat is the foundation of class struggle in a 21st century postindustrial society. Her analysis could also be expanded considerably from her focus on race to a broader focus on class, culture, managerial liberalism, therapeutism, and the state itself. For instance, she mentions that civil rights groups will defend affirmative action to the limit but ignore the prison-industrial complex. A penetrating analysis of why this is the case would likely yield some uncomfortable conclusions, perhaps even for the speaker herself.

Litigator-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, argues that we have not ended racial caste in America, we have simply redesigned it: The U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary means of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of color blindness. Her provocative new book challenges the civil rights community—and all of us—to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America. As the United States celebrates the nation’s triumph over race with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of young black men in major American cities are locked behind bars or have been labeled felons for life.

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