Professor Cannon Recommends 'New Jim Crow' for Anti-Racism Reading List

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

SF STATE NEWS -- As protests demanding racial justice continue across the nation, many allies wonder not only how they can lend support but also how they can learn more and do better. One of the first steps is among the simplest: reading a book.

“The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander

Professor of English Language and Literature Sarita Cannon says:

“Alexander’s acclaimed book explains the intimate connection among slavery, Jim Crow segregation and the prison industrial complex. It provides a compelling counterargument to the claim that slavery is a relic of the past with no bearing on the lives of African American people in the 21st century. Alexander asserts that the belief in a colorblind society, girded by allegedly race-neutral policies that do not explicitly target Black people, obscures the ways in which the criminal justice system equates Blackness with criminality and creates a new undercaste of people who are treated like second-class citizens.

“Particularly striking is Alexander’s discussion of how formerly incarcerated individuals suffer from political disenfranchisement, legal discrimination and social stigma. ‘The New Jim Crow’ is essential reading for those who want to understand how anti-Blackness is foundational to American institutions and how the carceral state enforces racial hierarchies.”