The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration Analysis

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To begin with, our class material and content ranged from pervasive novels and excerpts to compelling documentaries and talks. Consequently, many class assignments left students grappling with the issues of mass incarceration and experiences with race. I insist that, due to this exposure, my most important learning was being challenged to keep my mind open to and critically thinking about situations and perspectives that I had not been aware of or experienced.
The first example that comes to mind was learning about the harsh realities of the discrimination against ex-convicts in Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. Michelle Alexander, a civil rights lawyer and legal scholar, argues not only that mass incarceration is a “well-disguised system of racialized social control that functions in a manner strikingly similar to Jim Crow"(4), but that the prison label placed on convicts is “more damaging to the African American community than the shame and stigma associated with Jim Crow’ (17). While I had previous knowledge of the systematic racial oppression that continues to hold power in our country, I did not have any idea of to what extent the label of ‘felon’ has on the life
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(143) Consequently, Alexander wants us to know from this just how much ex-felons are treated as second class citizens, if even citizens, in our own country. Through this course, by discussing Alexander’s argument on life after prison, I have opened my eyes to the reality of the harsh treatment of ex-convicts in this country. I now feel it is important to be aware of and fight for the rights of those released from our corrupt prison system so that they can be given a real second
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