Mar 9, 2014

Book Review: The New Jim Crow

Once in a while I try to find books from subjects I don't know about. This time I got my hands to very important book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. It's a book which reveals that racial discrimination still exists in US and it is almost comparable to the ages of slavery.

Book goes through the history of racism from early days of US to the latest moments with Barack Obama being the president. Book tells the story of Drug War and how it is actually a war against black people and not that much about drugs.

Michelle Alexander is associate professor of law in Ohio and has been involved in many civil rights campaigns. She definitely has a good view on current justice system and knows what she is talking about.

I don't live in US, so I have an outside view to the country. It was shocking to read many fact about US. The amount of prisoners in US prisons is huge and the vast majority of those are black males. Also I was surprised to find out that prisoners can't vote and how huge sentences you can get from minor drug possessions. As an example in Finland (where I live) we have 10-times less people in prisons when equalized to the amount of people overall. Also in Finland everyone has the right to vote, even prisoners.

As this is a review of the book, I don't want to dig too much into my own views about the subject. What is certain is that this book will definitely raise questions and thoughts. The subject isn't that close to me, I'm a white person living outside US, but still I found it important and interesting. It feels that I'm telling about subject, that I shouldn't be criticizing or supporting, since I'm not involved. I do want to support human rights everywhere, so I encourage people to read the book.

Book was well written and had lot of quotations and supporting material included. Even so, that it became bit cumbersome to read. That's my critic for the book. With better editing, I believe book could have been made easier to read and understand. The current editing will turn down some of the readers who should read this book.

Hopefully the issue behind the book will be raised to the attention it needs soon. Also I hope people will read this book and talk about these issues. Racial discrimination is far from over. It needs attention. This book will help to understand how it is happening.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

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