We will discuss the timely 2010 book The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. This is not specifically an economics text, but a social and historical exposé of the use of the war on drugs to reinstitute Jim Crow-style oppression in the heart of modern American society. It traces the relationship between mass incarceration and the widespread introduction of automation into our economy beginning in the 1970s, and demonstrates how this "human rights nightmare" will engulf us all if we fail to understand and reverse it. Just as the working class movements of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries failed when they ignored slavery and Jim Crow, the movement for economic justice that we are part of today will fail if it does not take up the cause of the millions of unjustly incarcerated.
Cornel West called this book "the secular bible for a new social movement" and "an instant classic because it captures the emerging spirit of our age."