What are you reading? Non-fiction edition.

Currently open in my eReader: “The New Jim Crow Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander

“The New Jim Crow is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement. Since its publication in 2010, the book has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for more than a year; been dubbed the “secular bible of a new social movement” by numerous commentators, including Cornel West; and has led to consciousness-raising efforts in universities, churches, community centers, re-entry centers, and prisons nationwide. The New Jim Crow tells a truth our nation has been reluctant to face.

As the United States celebrates its “triumph over race” with the election of Barack Obama, the majority of black men in major urban areas are under correctional control or saddled with criminal records for life. Jim Crow laws were wiped off the books decades ago, but today an extraordinary percentage of the African American community is warehoused in prisons or trapped in a parallel social universe, denied basic civil and human rights—including the right to vote; the right to serve on juries; and the right to be free of legal discrimination in employment, housing, access to education and public benefits. Today, it is no longer socially permissible to use race explicitly as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. Yet as civil-rights-lawyer-turned-legal-scholar Michelle Alexander demonstrates, it is perfectly legal to discriminate against convicted criminals in nearly all the ways in which it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once labeled a felon, even for a minor drug crime, the old forms of discrimination are suddenly legal again. In her words, “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”

Alexander shows that, by targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control, even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness.

The New Jim Crow challenges the civil rights community—and all of us—to place mass incarceration at the forefront of a new movement for racial justice in America.”

What non-fiction work by black writers are you reading?

So, lets talk about Baltimore for a moment…

People are trying to get the word out about what the hell is actually happening in Baltimore, just like they did with what happen in Ferguson and NY and what is happening every day in *our* country. but too many of us for whom the life of a Black Man in the US is not our lived experience are still just shaking our heads and wondering about the “madness”. Lets be clear, its not madness it is anger and pain, it is people dying because of a system of injustice that is as old as this country. We helped build it, we help keep it in place, even when dont mean to or think we are. and it needs to stop.

Here’s part of the reality:
– thousands of people are protesting a system that is killing our friends, and families.
– a few people are getting all of the attention for breaking things.
– the police are not being held accountable for their actions

And are are a few places for Non-mainstream reporting and thoughts:
Think Progress
Crunk Feminist Collective
Mother Jones
Mic

Ask questions. *Listen* to the answers, even when they feel like shit. Ask more questions. Check the footnotes and source links and pay attention to who gains from the narrative being repeated.

A friend of mine who lives this crap day in and day out in a way I never will, writes powerful, clear words about Baltimore:

Just so we’re clear and not fooling ourselves:

The police are claiming that the “rioters” in Baltimore are bringing this on themselves.

The riots are being depicted as the violent overflow of “racial tension” in Baltimore.

The media is discrediting the instigators (drunk, white, sports fans) and cops who decided to respond by throwing rocks BACK.

The cops have not and will not explain how a man in their custody broke his spine in THREE PLACES and SHATTERED HIS VOICEBOX all on his own, as though they may not have lent him a hand…

And still, people will ask the rioters for peace? Baltimore has a HISTORY of police abuse and brutality against a marginalized populace made up of overwhelming numbers of Black people.

But the rioters are the problem…. RIIIIIIIIIIGHT.

Get back at me when you come with some legitimate things to say. Respectability politics and calls for peace have fallen not on deaf ears, but on exhausted ones.

They’ve tried peaceful and respectable and no one would listen. Now, when a couple windows get busted, all of a sudden no one wants to listen AGAIN, but for different reasons; now it’s about how the “tone” of the protesters is too strident, too angry, too MUCH for white people and their feelings.

– Lina Hernandez  FB post 4/28/15

#BlackLivesMatter #IStandWithBaltimore