The New Jim Crow? Recovering the Progressive Origins of Mass Incarceration
30 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2014 Last revised: 3 Apr 2014
Date Written: March 6, 2014
This article revisits the claim that mass incarceration constitutes a new form of racial segregation, or Jim Crow. Drawing from historical sources, it demonstrates that proponents of the analogy miss an important commonality between the two phenomena, namely the debt that each owe to progressive and/or liberal politics. Though generally associated with repression and discrimination, both Jim Crow and mass incarceration owe their existence in part to enlightened reforms aimed at promoting black interests; albeit with perverse results. Recognizing the aspirational origins of systematic discrimination marks an important facet of comprehending the persistence of racial inequality in the United States.
Keywords: race, segregation, Jim Crow, new Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander, incarceration
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