“You’ve been reading that book for like a month,” my husband Les said.
Yeah, he’s right. I’ve dragged it around, reading it. Slowly, ever so slowly. Painfully even.
It was a slog. A slog through dangerous terrifying territory.
It was hard to read more than a few pages. My heart ached.
But I was determined to finish it. I needed to finish it.
And so I did.
I wasn’t going to blog about it. I logged the title on my reading list and put the book on the shelf.
I wasn’t going to blog about it because it isn’t an easy topic. It’s hard to distill into a short blog post. And its premise is so radical that, unless their lives have been personally touched by it, people will either say, “Huh? That cannot be true,” or outright reject it as propaganda. And they will unsubscribe. (Trust me, it happens every time I write on a social justice topic.) Hey, you may unsubscribe. And no matter what stories I tell myself, each unsubscribe feels like a personal rejection (no pressure).
But God wouldn’t let it go. I kept dwelling on thoughts from The New Jim Crow I believe he planted in my head.
- Each time I read an arrest report for drugs found during a traffic stop, I wonder.
- When I forget to use my turn signal or accidentally cross the line on the road, I question if I would have been stopped if I were African American.
- While the man in Panera fills out a job application with the help of what I assume from the conversation is his parole officer, I wonder if he already knows how slim his chances of gaining employment are because he must check the felon box.
- I lie in bed and wonder what it would be like to be permanently marked by a drug conviction at a young age and have it be used for the rest of my life—long after I’ve done my time—to keep me from meaningful employment, housing, community, and legal recourse.
- I get angry thinking about how the profit factor—for police departments, district attorneys (as evidenced by the luxury SUV scandal occurring right now in my own county), and private prison companies and their suppliers—has dramatically contributed to a permanent underclass and imagine how hard it will be to fight that profit motive.
I could try to list some facts Michelle Alexander presents in the book, but I cannot do it justice. If you want facts right now, you can access this list from The Center for Law and Justice.
Instead I will suggest you exercise your brain and open your heart and read the book—even if it takes you a month (or more) to slog through it.
Then dwell on it as you will. Or as God wills.