Question1: Why Alexander calls the mass incarceration “the New Jim Crow”
Alexandercalls the process of mass incarceration “the New Jim Crow”because both of them have a lot of similarities. The most importantsimilarity is the fact that both of them involved the race-baseddiscrimination that affected the African Americans in a negative way.For example, the term Jim Crow is used to refer to a series of lawsthat were established between 1877 and the 1960s that depicted theblacks as second class U.S. citizens (Alexander Study Guide, Page15). Similarly, the ongoing mass incarceration has resulted in adisproportionate imprisonment of the African Americans. It isestimated that the anti-drug laws have subjected three quarters ofthe black youths to the risk of being incarcerated at a point intheir lives (Alexander, page 7), in spite of the fact that theirwhite counterparts consumer cocaine seven times more than them(Alexander, page 4). Therefore, both the Jim Crow and massincarceration were sponsored by the government through the laws thatresulted in a disproportionate impact on the black Americans.
However,the two phenomena differ because Jim Crow affected how blacks couldinteract with whites in social and official settings, while the massincarceration resulted in unfair imprisonment of the AfricanAmericans. Therefore, their difference can be attributed to thepurpose of the laws developed to facilitate them. The application ofa metaphor is the most appropriate method used by Alexander todescribe the similar characteristics of Jim Crow and massincarceration.
Question2: Where the New Jim Crow came from
Thenew Jim Crow started in the mid 1980s, following the establishment ofthe laws that could help the country deal with the menace of drug use(Alexander Study Guide Page 3). Although the objective ofestablishing the new laws was to enable the U.S. to stop the drugbusiness, the legislation gave enforcers the means and powers tocrack down on individuals and communities in search for drugs. Thesearch was skewed towards the people of color, especially the blackAmericans. This created a scenario in which more than 90 % of theincarcerated people are black Americans while the majority of drugtraffickers and sellers are white (Alexander Study Guide Page 11). Therefore, the occurrence of the New Jim Crow can be attributed tothe development of anti-drug laws that gave enforcers excess powersto search and arrest the blacks.
FromAlexander’s explanation, race-based social control has been partand parcel of the history of the U.S. The achievement made inbringing racial equality through the civil rights laws developed in1964 forced this old habit of discriminating against the blacks todie hard (Alexander Study Guide Page 15). Therefore, it can be arguedthat the reason for the mass incarceration to begin when it did wasto continue the old habit that has been entrenched in the Americansociety. This is confirmed by the fact that the war on drug, whichwas the primary cause of the New Jim Crow, was started at a time whendrug-related crimes were on the decline (Alexander Study Guide Page8).
Question3: Alexander’s argument about the origin of War on Drug
Alexander’sview suggests that the War on Drug is a process that has served as acontinuation of Jim Crow and Slavery. These arguments suggest thatshe agrees on the fact that drug crime was a real social challengewhen the war was started. However, she argues that it was initiatedat a time when the drug-related crimes were reducing (Alexander, page7). Therefore, the origin of the war was based on the right motives,but the measures put in place turned out to be discriminatory innature. This confirms that the desire to develop programs to fightthe drug users as well as traffickers was motivated by the need toput the people of color under control. In addition, the fact that theincarcerated blacks are denied the chance to engage in the votingexercise suggests that the origin of the war could have beenpolitically motivated.
Question4: Beneficiaries of the new Jim Crow
Thestates as well as the local governments were the major interestgroups that benefited from the new Jim Crow. Initially, thesegovernments were reluctant to embrace the War on Drug, but they weregiven a lot of incentives that motivated them to be part of theprocess. For example, they were promised cash grants as long as theywere willing to ensure that drug laws were given a priority(Alexander, page 15). It is estimated that the agencies that agreedto make drug laws a priority were given a total of 3.4 millionmilitary equipment, including helicopters, aircrafts, grenadelaunchers, and rifles (Alexander, page 73). In addition, the federalgovernment allowed the states as well as the local agencies to retainabout 80 % of all assets that they seized from the drug kingpins,which was a significant benefit to them (Alexander, page 15). Theywere also helped in the construction of new and modern prisonfacilities in order to help them accommodate the new inmates. Thepolitical class that was mainly composed of the white peoplebenefited a lot from the new Jim Crow. The black Americans who wereincarcerated were denied their voting rights, which imply that theycould not support their fellow African Americans during elections.This was an indirect benefit in favor of the white politicians.
Question5: Individuals and groups harmed by the new Jim Crow
Thenew Jim Crow harmed individuals and groups of people. Although theprogram was initiated with the objective of making the U.S. adrug-free society, it affected the people of colordisproportionately. The right of the affected individuals to have afair representation was denied, especially when they came from poorfamilies. It is estimated that over 80 % of suspects of the drugtrafficking business or substance abuse are unable to hire competentlawyers (Alexander, page 18). These people are represented by publicattorneys, who are underpaid and overworked. This denies them theopportunity to defend their cases in a manner that will help themfind justice. In addition, there are many suspects who are put intojails without speaking to their lawyers, which is an outright denialof legal rights. This has resulted in the unfair conviction andincarceration of innocent people. Individual people of color who areincarcerated are denied their democratic rights since they are notallowed to vote. Consequently, the community of black Americans isdenied a chance to have a voice in the U.S. politics since a largepercentage of its potential voters are incarcerated. The new Jim Crowis also characterized by unreasonable searches that affect the peopleof color disproportionately.
Question6: The Harvest of Empire and immigration crisis
Gonzalezargues that the current wave of immigration is a direct result of thehistorical interventions of the U.S. in Latin America. This argumentis based on the fact that the U.S. managed to occupy the SouthAmerican countries (such as Mexico and Dominican Republic), whichincreased poverty among citizens. The impoverished citizens chose toemigrate towards the north in search for better lives (Gonzalez, page5). This created a perception that immigration was a viable safetyvalve for countries that were initially dominated by the U.S. (Yaydocumentary). A suitable example that illustrates the connectionbetween the U.S. interventions and immigration of Latinos into theU.S. is the movement of Gonzalez’s parents. The author explainsthat the occupation of Puerto Rico by the U.S. left his parents poorto an extent that his father became an alcoholic. His family had tomove to the U.S. in order to escape poverty and be part of theAmerican dream.
Alexander,M. TheNew Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.New York, NY: The New Press, 2012. Print.
Alexander,M. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.PPTPart II.
Alexander,M. TheNew Jim Crow Study Guide.Chicago: Book Rags, Inc. 2015. Print.
Alexander,M. The New Jim Crow Study Guide, n.d. Print.
Gonzalez,J. Harvestof empire: A history of Latinos in America.London: Penguin Books, 2012. Print.
Yay,C. Harvest of Empire (2011). YouTube.8 October. 2014. Web. 19 December 2016.