Document Type

Book Review

Publication Title

American Studies Journal

Publication Date




First Page




There are books that, on their own, are informative and moving. But, oftentimes, reading books together—one right after the other—compounds each works’ transformative power. Michelle Alexander’s much-needed report (calling it simply a book hardly does it justice), The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, can certainly stand on its own as an important statement about the current use of mass incarceration to maintain a racial caste system in the United States. The same strength can be found in The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America, Khalil Gibran Muhammad’s account of the connection of blackness to criminality in this country. Each book, on its own, gives readers a greater understanding of the racism within the criminal justice system. However, reading them jointly paints a disturbing picture of the past and present use of incarceration and crime rhetoric in America and leaves one with an overwhelming sense of injustice and the data to know that the injustice is real.



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