Three Strikes, The War On Drugs and America Incarcerated
by Michelle Alexander
Published by The New Press, New York City 2010
Michelle Alexander’s new book, The New Jim Crow is both frightening and upsetting. Alexander carefully and methodically analyzes how the War On Drugs, initiated by President Reagan the 1980’s is in fact after slavery and Jim Crow, the third wave of systematic oppression targeting African Americans. Alexander traces the history of racial discrimination in the United States. She shows clearly and argues eloquently that the War On Drugs is merely the third wave of anti-black oppression which began with Slavery in the pre-Colonial to Civil War period, continued with Jim Crow following the Civil War and up through the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s.
The War On Drugs has been so effective largely because it is an issue that most politicians are afraid to even discuss. While there are a few bright spots, like current US Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowski, who has great credibility from his previous service as Chief of the Seattle Police Department, who has announced that the Obama administration’s federal law enforcement apparatus will not be used to persecute prosecute marijuana users who are in compliance with their state’s laws, it is nearly impossible to find anyone in politics or in government who is willing to even acknowledge the fairly widely held view that something is seriously wrong with our drug policy, let alone discuss the possibility of drug policy reform.
Into this intellectual vacuum about an issue that effects every one of us in the United States, where we have the world’s highest incarceration rate, Alexander’s The New Jim Crow is a badly needed breath of fresh air. I hope that this book will help to bring into the open a badly needed conversation about both racism and discrimination as well as bringing sanity to our policies on incarceration, criminal justice and government spending. The New Jim Crow–Very Highly Recommended.