The New Jim Crow
Adult Discussion Class
Sunday Mornings - 9 am
Narthex Conference Room
Join the Sunday Morning Adult Discussion Group as they read and discuss “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander. A limited number of books are available in the office for $12.00.
Below is a schedule of dates, what chapters are being read and questions to consider as you do your reading. Anyone is welcome to join at any point during the 5 weeks series.
January 29, 2017 - Introduction and Chapter 1
• Initial reactions: What biases, stereotypes, or assumptions might influence your thinking about the issues explored in the book? What life experiences have shaped your views?
• What is the meaning of Caste: How do you feel about describing mass incarceration as a caste system? What might it mean for the nation to be a home to a caste-like system while claiming democracy as its foundation?
• Beloved community: Do you believe that Dr. King’s vision of a beloved community can be realized in the United States? How do your feelings on this subject impact how you relate to the call to end mass incarceration and our nation’s cycle of caste?
February 5, 2017 - Chapters 2 & 3
The Criminal Justice System: How it actually functions vs how it is advertised.
• Main Myths: Did you believe any of the main myths that rationalize mass incarceration before you read The New Jim Crow? Is exposing these myths necessary in order to create an environment in which people are willing to challenge misinformation and the status quo?
• Mainstream Media: How are criminals and the justice system depicted on TV shows and the news? What voices are missing? What are the images, ideas, and message that have most influenced your beliefs and attitudes about our criminal justice system?
• License to Discriminate: What can be done to expose and challenge racial bias in the system if the Supreme Court won’t address it?
• War on Drugs and Violence: Who benefits from the system the way it is, and who is harmed? Does focusing on the War on Drugs and non-violent offenders send the message that it is permissible to shame, dehumanize, and marginalize people so long as they’re classified as violent?
February 12, 2017 - Chapters 4 & 5
• Dehumanization: What happens when we begin to view people as less than human, as shameful or characterless? What parallels between the “get tough” movement aimed at immigrants and the “get tough” laws aimed at African Americans?
• Human Rights: Laws that discriminate in employment, housing, education, and public benefits make it difficult if not impossible, for people to find work in the legal economy, and greatly increase the likelihood of repeated offence. Are these laws necessary? Under what circumstances? In certain professions? For how long?
• Shame, White Privilege and Human Failings: What can we do to address the shame and self-hatred that keeps communities impacted by mass incarceration divided? What can be done to cultivate more concern, understanding, and cooperation across racial lines? As we are all sinners and have failings, do you agree that in order to end mass incarceration, a cultural shift is needed? Do you agree that mass incarceration is rooted in racial indifference – a lack of care and concern across lines of race and class?
February 19, 2017 - Chapter 6
This chapter is devoted to the question of where we go from here.
• Reform or Transform: Do you agree with the distinction Alexander makes between isolated, piecemeal policy reform efforts and building a movement in which truly transformational change is possible? Aside from the Civil Rights movement, are there other movements that might offer guidance, models, or inspiration for what we aim to achieve?
• First Steps: What so you believe are the first steps? What specific actions can we take; individually or collectively, in our schools, places of worship, or communities, to engage in movement building?
• Areas of Work: 1)Consciousness raising so that an awakening within communities of all colors can begin; 2) building an “underground railroad” that will provide support to all those directly impacted by the system; and 3)organizing for abolition of the system of mass incarceration as a whole, including advocacy to end the drug war. Do you agree with these priorities? What areas of work are missing from the list?
February 26. 2017 - Wrap up
Next Steps: Where do we go from here.
• Colorblindness: Throughout colorblindness is described as the belief that not seeing race, or seeing beyond race, represents a virtuous social goal. How do you respond to the book’s depiction of colorblindness? Do you see redeeming qualities in the concept of seeing beyond race? Do you agree that dealing openly with race is essential to the struggle at hand?
• Commitment and Sacrifice: Do you think that building this movement will demand the same level of sacrifice as the struggle for freedom called forth during the civil rights era? For what level of sacrifice do you feel prepared? What would help prepare you fro this work?
• How has this book affected you and your thinking? Have you or are you willing to get involved?