The New Jim Crow

Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow

Featuring David Sloane, Danielle Williams, Jan Perry, and Jody Armour


In this edition of the Bedrosian Book Club Podcast, we’re neck deep in one of the most important issues of the day: mass incarceration. The US has used the War on drugs to create a racial caste system: a successor to the Jim Crow days we thought we left behind. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander is one of the most important American books in the last decade. Alexander systematically explores the policy changes from the days of Nixon through the present – exploring how each decision has created and allowed a system which criminalizes blackness, brownness, otherness in way that both creates new racial biases and confirms them by incarcerating millions of young black and brown men (and to a lesser extent, black and brown women). It’s been five years since this book was released. Finally we’re seeing some of us wake up … but the facts remain that US prisons hold an astonishing 25% of the worlds prisoners. Many prisoners are victims of the War on Drugs which, even though drug use stats are consistent regardless of race and class, imprisons disproportionally more black, brown, and poor young men and women. The victims of the War on Drugs are not often the kingpins, rather small time infractions are the backbone of this Prison Industrial Complex. And rather than making the problem better, we’ve only succeeded in making it worse and, in the process, destroyed communities across America. Our discussion focuses on the relevance today and looking forward. Read this book. Listen to our discussion and share your thoughts with us.

Follow us on Twitter. Follow David at @dcsloane53, Danielle at @BDanielleW, Jan at @JanPerry, and Jody at @NiggaTheory

Podcast Transcription

To listen to the Bedrosian Book Club Podcast discussion of The New Jim Crow, click the orange arrow in the Soundcloud player at the top of this post. Or you can download it and subscribe through Soundcloud or iTunes!

Next Month …


The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey - CoverTune in next time for a discussion of The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley. This beautiful novel tells the story of Ptolemy Grey, a 91 year old man living forgotten in the heart of South LA. We’ll take a look at aging in place, race, violence, memory, and Los Angeles.


Links to things we talk about:

Negrophobia and Reasonable Racism: The Hidden Costs of Being Black in America by Jody Armour
de jure or de facto
Mark Mauer and David Cole in the New York TimesHow to Lock Up Fewer People
Jim Dwyer in the New York Times$250. $500,000. Bail Differs Sharply for Drivers in 2 Similar Cases.
Sandra Bland
Emanuel AME shooting victims

  • Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd
  • Susie Jackson
  • Ethel Lee Lance
  • Depayne Middleton-
  • Clementa C. Pinckney
  • Tywanza Sanders
  • Daniel Simmons
  • Sharonda Coleman
  • Myra Thompson

Devah Pager: The Mark of a Criminal Record
Straight Outta Compton (2015) – Official Theatrical Trailer 
911 is a Joke
Broken Windows Policing Doesn’t Work: It also may have killed Eric Garner
McCleskey v. Kemp
A Better Chance
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Of Further Interest:

Reproducing Racism (book) (podcast discussion)
The Divide
Between the World and Me
Mirror Neurons – Entanglement by Invisibilia
Presidential Rhetoric and the Public Agenda: Constructing the War on Drugs (video, research on the Bully Pulpit, War on Drugs)
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Mandatory Minimums


This podcast is produced by Jonathan Schwartz and Aubrey Hicks.


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