In March 2010, when TomDispatch first published a piece by Michelle Alexander, her book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, had just been published. As I wrote then, it focused in startling ways on “a growing racial divide, one which includes the formation of a new undercaste in America that loses its normal rights at the prison gates and often never recovers them.” Her piece offered nothing short of a new way to look at racial oppression in this country in the twenty-first century -- and in hardcover it would sell a mere 3,000 copies. But Alexander was a superb writer, had a compelling personal story (check it out on Timothy MacBain’s riveting 2010 TomDispatch audio interview with her), and something new to tell the world -- and somehow (never discount miracles!), it broke through.
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