“If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, you must be the one to write it..”
Book and Author of the Week
The New Jim Crow
You got to wonder how our country keeps finding new ways to marginalize people of color. In this book by Michelle Alexander, published while Barack Obama was still president, before we had the movement of “Black Lives Matter” over a couple of police shootings of unarmed African American suspects, she made a case for the new Jim Crow. Since this book was published in 2012, we have come to know the New Jim Crow as the War on Drugs.
She makes her case using facts and figures of the she wrote this book by saying the War on Drugs was the social response to the end of the Jim Crow days due to the Civil Rights Movement championed by Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. before an assassin’s bullet ended his life, but not the movement. Right? Not so fast Ms. Alexander argues. The War on Drugs declared by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 has resulted in the incarceration of more impoverished African Americans than any other group as the prison population has quadrupled since that time and over 75 percent of it are young African American men caught in this “dragnet” where police do not have to have a reasonable doubt as stated in the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. Most searches start off as routine traffic stops where police can search the vehicle.
Poverty is one of the legs of the stool she constructs as to why this was a logical off-shoot of the old Jim Crow Laws. Since fathers are arrested and sent to prison, young boys grow up without a father, thus regenerating and continuing this vicious cycle. Once released from prison as a felon and criminal, the parolee does not have the right to vote and on every employment application, there is a place where you must answer if you’ve ever been convicted of a felon. As soon as that box is checked, the employer will automatically not hire thus bypassing any affirmative action laws. So now the ex-convict is powerless and unable to find employment. Guess what the next step is? Right, going back to the criminal life that got them in prison in the first place.
She criticizes President Obama for his policy of “Color Blindness,” claiming that is not what Reverend King had in mind when spoke about his dream. She argues that colorblindness is just another tool to keep the people of color disenfranchised from opportunity available to other Americans. This part really opened my eyes, since I have professed to color blindness, meaning, color of skin doesn’t matter, but then she goes on to show how those currently in the civil rights movement have settled for the few of color who are “allowed” to make it. We must talk about race and what we must do it as a society in order to fulfill Reverend King’s dream. This book will make you think. You may not agree, but it will give you something to mull over.
Author of the Week
Passing of an American Icon
Nobel Prize Winner of Literature
The world has lost one of its most powerful voices with the passing of Toni Morrison on August 5, 2019. Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and is considered one of the most influential writers of her time, Toni Morrison will live on in the books she has left behind. In case you were not aware, her literary legacy is a true American Treasure from her most famous book Beloved about a mother who murders her own child rather than have that child live in slavery. Later the ghost of her child comes back as the ghost of slavery will never be erased. Some of her other books add to that powerful conscience of African American Literature that included; The Bluest Eyes, Song of Solomon, Jazz, Sula, and Tar Baby. She also wrote children’s books. Her main contribution was a social awareness of all people in our diverse country.
I wish I could have spent just a few minutes to talk to her while she was still here with us and since that won’t happen, I encourage you to take a look at the impressive work she left behind. In reading her words, we can hear the voice that helped change our perspective on race in America. Harking back to the Harlem Renaissance, I can hear the voices of a people longing to share in the dream that Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. talked about over fifty years ago. God bless you Toni Morrison and thank you so much.