Subject: History
Topic: Racial Caste System and Jim Crow
Language: English (U.S.)
Pages: 3
Assignment 5 1.​What are the aspects of the racial caste system and how do they create the birdcage referenced in Chapter 5 of Michelle Alexander’s book? 2.​What are the parallels that are drawn between Jim Crow and the current War on Drugs to make Michelle Alexander call the current period in American history the New Jim Crow? 3.​Discuss Michelle Alexander’s reasons for proclaiming that we need to resist the temptation for colorblind advocacy. 4. ​On page 157 in your Alexander book, please discuss the idea of Let them eat cake. 5.​ As mentioned starting on page 152, please discuss the idea of the Black Box.

Racial Caste System

Michelle Alexander defines “Racial Caste” as a racial group locked into an inferior position by law and custom. She links the Jim Crow to slavery and asserts that the current system of mass incarceration is also a caste system. The process of marking black youth as black criminals is essential to the functioning of mass incarceration as a racial caste system. There are so high racial profiling in the justice system, and hundreds of black men are under correction control either in prisons, jail or in probation parole.

Alexander argues that the rate of incarceration for African American is more than they were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the civil war began. She criticizes the Obama’s speech that African Americans have been absentees in their families. She notably writes that Hundreds of thousands black men are unable to be good fathers for their children, not because of lack of commitment or desire, but they are warehoused in prisons and jails locked in cages. They never walked out on their families voluntarily; they were taken away in handcuffs, often due to a massive federal program is known as the War on Drugs. 

War on Drugs and New Jim Crow

The Jim Crow laws were the caste system that had the African America rights to education, to vote and then relegated to second –class status. The New Jim Crows: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness mitigates the massive incarceration of the people of color in the name of “war on drugs” that targets the African American. Michelle Alexander, call this age the “New Jim Crows age” that challenges the civil rights community to place mass incarceration at the forefront of the new movement for racial in America.    

Resisting the Temptation of Colorblind Advocacy

The reason for resting the temptation of colorblind advocacy is the facts that opportunities for challenging mass incarceration on purely race-neutral grounds have never been greater. According to Alexander, although colorblind approaches to addressing the problems of poor people of color often seem pragmatic in the short run, in the long run they are counterproductive, colorblindness, is not as it is touted as a solution, it is the problem. Thus, there is need to talk openly about race openly and honestly. The whites have a tendency of not talking about race, and prefer not have a total encounter with the black.

Let them eat cake.

The idea discussed in this page, are the plights of the ex-offenders and their families and the individuals who have been convicted of drugs and other crimes. Alexander criticizes the bill that denies the convicts essential privileges due to offenses. The women and the children also suffer from such legislations that give limits of the national aids “The national cake.”


 Black Box

The black ex-offenders are the most severely disadvantaged applicants in the modern job markets. Black men convicted of felonies are least likely to get jobs offers of any demographic group; the suburban employers are the most likely unwilling to hire them. According to the author, the employers are afraid of the violence by the black men about other groups. And although, many of the black offenders are put in the “Black Box,” there are no clear policies on retrieval of the box by, many employers. Employers, therefore, lack explicit measures of who is an ex-offender and who is not. They also may consciously or unconsciously treat all black men as though they have criminal records, effectively placing them as though they are all ex-offenders. Alexander argues that researchers suggest that banning the criminal box is not enough; we must change our mindset that puts the black men “in the box.”


Alexander, M. (January, 5 , 2010). The new Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. United States of America: The New Publisher. doi: Criminal Justice, Racism, Social of Race and Ethnic Relation

NAACP image for Outstanding Literacy Work, Non fiction

Learning Site, 25 May 2015. 3 Mar 2016.