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IAF Book Discussion Group, Session 2017.02 - The New Jim Crow

The IAF Book Discussion Group is an ongoing effort to provide interesting intellectual conversations for members of IAF and other interested parties on texts and topics relevant to the Secular perspective.

For this session the group will begin a three-part exploration of the text "The New Jim Crow" by renowned author and social justice advocate Michelle Alexander.

The reading schedule for these three sessions is as follows -

February - Introduction & Chapter 1 (to page 58)

March - Chapters 2 & 3 (to page 139)

April - Chapters 4, 5 & 6 (to page 261)

After this series on social justice, we will spend the next three sessions focusing on fiction again after which we will tackle a text on philosophy/psychology.

For session 1, please be prepared, if possible, to present things from the reading assignment that stood out for you so that we can gain a good cross-section of individual perspectives where the reading is concerned. Consider questions of content, such as passages that stood out for you or particular facts you found interesting that you might want to explore further. Definitely don't be afraid to ask questions about concepts and ideas that are new to you.

The conference room that has been reserved at Kirkendall Public Library has a maximum capacity of 20 so RSVP early to get a seat. Social time will be available from 6:30 to 7 PM if you want to come and just chat before the discussion begins. We'll see you there. :-)

You can read about the book by going to the primary website for the title HERE.

If you prefer, though, here is a brief synopsis of the title from the same -

"The New Jim Crow is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement. Since its publication in 2010, the book has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for more than a year; been dubbed the “secular bible of a new social movement” by numerous commentators, including Cornel West; and has led to consciousness-raising efforts in universities, churches, community centers, re-entry centers, and prisons nationwide. The New Jim Crow tells a truth our nation has been reluctant to face.

As the United States celebrates its “triumph over race” with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of black men in major urban areas are under correctional control or saddled with criminal records for life. Jim Crow laws were wiped off the books decades ago, but today an extraordinary percentage of the African American community is warehoused in prisons or trapped in a parallel social universe, denied basic civil and human rights—including the right to vote; the right to serve on juries; and the right to be free of legal discrimination in employment, housing, access to education and public benefits. Today, it is no longer socially permissible to use race explicitly as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. Yet as civil-rights-lawyer-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander demonstrates, it is perfectly legal to discriminate against convicted criminals in nearly all the ways in which it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once labeled a felon, even for a minor drug crime, the old forms of discrimination are suddenly legal again. In her words, “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”

Alexander shows that, by targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness.

The New Jim Crow challenges the civil rights community—and all of us—to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America."

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  • J

    Claude, I second that 100%. Thank you to everyone for a great session. This definitely ranks in the top five of all the discussions I've hosted... Let's carry this energy over into March and make session 2 even better. :-)

    February 2

  • Claude B.

    Good discussion

    February 2

  • Gwen H.

    I have a volunteer commitment with Hawthorn Hill that may not be done in time for me to be at the book discussion tonight. If not, I will see you next time.

    February 2

    • J

      No worries, Gwen. I'll email you the discussion questions so you can get a sense of how the session the event you don't get to come that is.

      February 2

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