The New Jim Crow

The New Jim Crow

Jim Crow laws were laws which were in place to enforce racial segregation between the 1870’s and the 1960’s. While many believe that Jim Crow is a part of the past, there are theories that Jim Crow is still around, just under a different name: mass incarceration.

Mass incarceration refers to the greater number of people in the United States compared to the rest of the world, as well as the history of incarceration during the 1820’s. This theory holds more of a focus on the effects of mass incarceration on people of color, specifically black people.

This is a concept that I only first heard of when I was attending one of my college seminars and a speaker explained the subject and recommended the book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. The book truly goes into depth about how African American males are the most impacted by mass incarceration.

Black people are six times more likely to be incarcerated than their white counterpart, but only make up less than 20 percent of the population, compared to white people who make up over 60 percent. This large disparity is what grabbed my attention when I first began to investigate this theory.

Today, many people try to claim that racism is a thing of the past and that society has moved past this point. That is blatantly untrue, and this theory helps to further delve into how racism is not only prevalent amongst everyday citizens, but how there is a continuance of oppression upon the black community. This theory emphasizes how racial discrimination against black people has not gone away but evolved in order to accommodate the evolution of society.

My introduction to this New Jim Crow theory has inspired me to examine other institutions to see the other systems that are being used to oppress people of color in ways that the general public is oblivious to. So often have I observed the injustices that people have faced but have only accredited them to simple coincidences.

While at first glance society seems to have changed, it has not at all, only evolving to appear different. This theory opened my eyes to endless possibilities on how society can be so easily manipulated into taking actions at face value instead of examining what the true intentions and purposes were.