In chapter 6 of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, she makes her final arguments for what must be done to end the system of mass incarceration. She writes, “The central question for racial justice advocates is this: are we serious about ending this system of control, or not? If we are, there is a tremendous amount of work to be done. The notion that all of these reforms can be accomplished piecemeal—one at a time, through disconnected advocacy strategies—seems deeply misguided. All of the needed reforms have less to do with failed policies than a deeply flawed public consensus, one that is indifferent, at best, to the experience of poor people of color.”
In a 400-word response, explain what reforms Alexander argues must occur in order to bring the racial caste system of mass incarceration to an end? Why is she opposed to simply “tinkering” with the problem? Why is it also important to focus clearly on race and racism rather than pretending to be colorblind? At the same time, why is Alexander critical of the way affirmative action has been framed in the last 30 years? What contradictions does she see with the election of the first African American president, Barack Obama? And finally, why does she believe that currently incarcerated, former “felons,” and others who are criminalized need to be centered in the work to end mass incarceration?