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The New Jim Crow


If you aren’t familiar with the original Jim Crow laws, they were a set of segregation laws put in place after the Civil War in Southern states that would separate African Americans from whites, at places like restaurants, buses, and other public places. These laws were in effect until the late 60s in the south. Once these laws were abolished, African Americans were allowed to be in the same places as whites. But now it seems that there is a new Jim Crow law in effect that many people don’t know about. In 2010, Michelle Alexander a legal scholar and litigator to civil rights wrote a book about the subject..


Alexander’s book examines how the War on Drugs has discriminated against African Americans. This is because the posters and ads that were in place when the war was introduced, which was during the crack epidemic, were African Americans. This made the whole world look at African Americans as drug dealers or uses. She states that the criminal justice system uses these kinds of images to discriminate against African Americans. Most of the African Americas incarcerated in jails and prisons are for non-violent drug crimes like possession.


Alexander sees this as a new way to segregate the African American community and these laws are more focused on communities that are lower class as well. This also led to many African Americans being labeled as felons, which made them second-class citizens. This discrimination towards the African American community has big consequences if they are convicted of a non-violent crime like possession. They are no longer allowed to vote, be on a jury, gain employment, housing, and other rights that every American can have. And this isn’t just African Americas that have problems doing this; most other people that are convicted of a non-violent drug crime are in the same boat.


Alexander’s book opened the door to discussion to change in the system concerning non-violent crimes and how we should handle them. The book focuses on the African American community but I think that anyone that has been on that side of the law for these kinds of crimes can relate to the struggle and effect it can have on their lives. We need to reform laws like this because history is repeating itself. Outlawing alcohol didn’t prevent people from drinking or selling it and there won’t be any change unless we do something about drugs as well.

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