Michelle Alexander: A Vision for America Beyond the ‘New Jim Crow’

Professor Michelle Alexander. (photo: Hampshire College)
Professor Michelle Alexander. (photo: Hampshire College)


Krista Tippett | On Being | Reader Supported News | April 22, 2016

s. Krista Tippett, host: The civil rights lawyer Michelle Alexander is one of the people who is waking us up to history we don’t remember and structures most of us can’t fathom intending to create. “Mass incarceration” and the “school-to-prison pipeline” — these are shorthand ways of talking about human wreckage decades on from policies that began during the Nixon administration in the wake of civil rights advances, in the name of reestablishing order.

Poor people of color were swept into the criminal justice system as war was waged on drug crimes which were largely ignored when committed by middle- or upper-class whites. Michelle Alexander calls the punitive culture that has emerged the “new Jim Crow.” And she is making this visible in the name of a fierce hope and a conviction that, across the differences in this land, we not only can, but already are rising to the transformation to which it calls.

Professor Michelle Alexander: The press of our daily lives can make it difficult to imagine alternatives, and to commit ourselves to even small steps towards building a movement that might have some hope of being truly transformational. But all over the country right now people are actually doing that work. In faith communities, in reentry centers, in schools, on campuses, on street corners and barber shops today, people are asking questions that haven’t been asked in a long time, and saying, we don’t want to live in a prison state. How are we going to go about building a movement that can birth something new?

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