Social Justice Book Club: The New Jim Crow

Very very belatedly, I have managed to write a post for the wonderful August edition of the Social Justice Book Club, hosted by the glorious and brilliant Kerry at Entomology of a Bookworm. I promise to be more prompt in future posts.

The New Jim Crow

1. Where do you plan on discussing this book the most? Feel free to share links to your blog, social media channels, snap handles, etc.

Mostly on the blog! I’ll be answering mid-month and end-of-month discussion questions, and I’ll also probably be twittering about it at @readingtheend as I go along, with the hashtag #SJBookClub.

2. Why did you decide to join in on the reading and/or discussion of this book?

A couple of reasons, the most important being that I’ve been meaning to readΒ The New Jim Crow practically since it came out — but in a rather heartening turn of events, it’s been checked out from my public library every time I’ve thought to look for it.

On a more macro level, one of the big things to come out of Book Blogger Appreciation Week this year is that I’m connecting more to other nonfiction enthusiasts around the blogosphere. There are more of us than I realized! So the Social Justice Book Club is a terrific way for us all to get together and chat about the greatness of nonfiction.

3. In the very first line of the introduction to the book, Michelle Alexander writes, “This book is not for everyone.” What do you make of that as a entree into The New Jim Crow?Β 

Mm, radical honesty. Cynically, it’s a good way to make readers who are already receptive to Alexander’s ideas feel like virtuous mavericks of the book world. But equally, it’s just a statement of fact: Many people do not want to be forced to look at the racial injustice in our criminal justice system, because it upsets the feeling that one lives in a just universe, and it is pleasant to feel that one lives in a just universe.

4. What, if anything, are you most looking forward to about this book?

Learning more specifics about the ways the criminal justice system targets racial minorities. I already believe that to be true, but I’m looking forward to getting into some of the nitty-gritty details. I’ll be particularly interested to learn about some of the ways that historical racial segregation continues to impact laws and law enforcement w/r/t minority populations.

Thanks to Kerry for hosting. I can’t wait to dig into this book!

  • I have this and I did start it, but I got too upset reading it and stopped. Not a good reason to stop; I should buck up and keep going!

    • I’ve found it really hard to keep going at times; it’s making me physically anxious to acknowledge how overtly racist and un-just so much of our “justice” system is. But as a middle-class white woman, I can only imagine how much more terrifying it is to *live* this reality than “just” read about it, which has kept me motivated to keep going. I hope you can pick it up again at some point!

      • I’m actually really glad to be reading it in the context of a book club — when the going gets tough, I’m still motivated to continue, because I want to be involved in the group discussion.

      • Now I’m even more anxious to dig into this over the upcoming weekend!

  • Jeanne

    As you know, I reviewed this book on June 9. It was a real wake-up call for me; it will be less of one for you, because you have been less sheltered, I think.

  • THIS THIS THIS THIS THIS: “Many people do not want to be forced to look at the racial injustice in our criminal justice system, because it upsets the feeling that one lives in a just universe, and it is pleasant to feel that one lives in a just universe.”

    I’m so glad the library hold gods came through on this one and that you’re jumping in with us. Can’t wait to hear your take on so much of this. And hear hear! for finding fellow non-fiction book bloggers to share this kind of book with.

  • So glad you’re reading along, the book is so damn good and you’re definitely going to get all those details you’re hoping for.

    • Am one chapter in and already I’m learning a lot. I’d like to read more in particular about this whole “criminal forfeiture” thing she’s talking about — I’d never heard of this before and it’s pretty shocking.

  • I agree with Kerry’s quote from your post. (I was unable to copy and paste on my phone.) it is pleasant to live in a self-delusional world, but not helpful to anyone, especially those most in need. πŸ˜€

  • I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts one this one. Great idea for a book club!

  • Can’t wait to read more of your thoughts on this one! I liked the intro but then never had the time to really focus on it, so didn’t read more. Also read some critical voices on it, that left me a bit uncertain.
    Yes, where are the nonfiction bloggers, I need to stalk more of you πŸ™‚

    • Oh, do you have any examples of critiques of the book? I’d like to read them! I have some thoughts based on my reading of the first two chapters, but I’d be interested to hear the thoughts of people smarter/better qualified than I am. :p

      • I’m following this convo; I’m curious too!

      • I DM’ed you a link on twitter! It’s pretty academic and long, but a start, I think, if you want to see that side of things.

  • Stefanie@SoManyBooks

    Very cool. Looking forward to hearing more about the book. Also, the idea of a social justice book club is awesome! I have no time this month but maybe the next read? And I heart nonfiction πŸ™‚

    • Yes yes! Join in next time! This’ll be my first month participating, and I think the third month overall? But I’m hoping to see it keep going and expanding to more and more bloggers, cause it’s excellent. πŸ™‚

  • I meant to check out the Social Justice Book Club but forgot about it last time. This is a great selection and although I can’t join you guys right now, I’ll make it a point to join in for the next book!

  • Laila@BigReadingLife

    This is one on my list and I am eager to hear your thoughts on it.

  • Yay for nonfiction! I’m definitely too far behind on blogging things to jump in for this readalong, but hopefully I can join in for the September read πŸ™‚