The New Jim Crow

The New Jim Crow Imagery

Young Man

"Imagine a young man, eighteen years old... One night he burglarizes a corner store and steals food, toothpaste, Pepsi, and diapers for his baby boy. He is arrested almost immediately a few blocks away" (91). This is a tragic and moving image of how these young black "criminals" are almost pushed back into a life of crime just to survive.


"In countless situations in which police could have easily arrested someone or conducted a search without a military-style raid, police burst into people's homes, typically in the middle of the night, throwing grenades, shouting, and pointing guns and rifles at anyone inside, often including young children" (75). This is a terrifying image of the absurdity of the militarization of law enforcement.


"'May I speak to you?' thunders an officer. 'Will you put your arms up and stand against the wall for a search?' Because almost no one refuses, drug sweeps on the sidewalk (and on buses and trains) are easy. People are easily intimidated when the police confront them, hands on their revolvers, and most have no idea the question can be answered, 'No.'" (67) In this scene, Alexander describes the terror people face when confronted by a police officer. In this way, she illustrates the absurdity of arguing that people can refuse the police.


Alexander paints a picture of the ghettos as a place of constant profiling, surveillance, and persecution. The police target young black men because they are assumed to be criminals. One can envision the streets of Baltimore, Detroit, and Chicago as ones in which police cars glide by slowly looking for "thugs" to stop and frisk.