Michelle Alexander

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Michelle Alexander
Michelle Alexander 2011 02.jpg
Michelle Alexander at Miller Center, 2011
Born (1967-10-07) October 7, 1967 (age 51)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Alma materVanderbilt University (BA)
Stanford Law School (JD)
Known forThe New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
Scientific career
FieldsRace in the United States criminal justice system,
Racial profiling,
Racism in the United States
InstitutionsUnion Theological Seminary in the City of New York

Michelle Alexander (born October 7, 1967)[1] is a writer, civil rights advocate, and visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary (New York City). She is best known for her 2010 book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, and is an opinion columnist for The New York Times.

Early life[edit]

Alexander was born in Chicago, Illinois to an interracial couple, John Alexander and Sandra Alexander (Huck) who wed in 1965. She attended high school in Ashland, Oregon with her younger sister, Dr. Leslie Alexander who is a professor of History and African American Studies, and is the author of 2008's African or American? Black Identity in New York City, 1784–1861.[2]

Alexander earned a B.A. degree from Vanderbilt University, where she received a Truman Scholarship. She earned a J.D. degree from Stanford Law School.[3]


Alexander served as director of the Racial Justice Project at the ACLU of Northern California, which led a national campaign against racial profiling by law enforcement. She directed the Civil Rights Clinic at Stanford Law School and was a law clerk for Justice Harry Blackmun at the U. S. Supreme Court and for Chief Judge Abner Mikva on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. As an associate at Saperstein, Goldstein, Demchak & Baller, she specialized in plaintiff-side class action suits alleging race and gender discrimination.[4]

Alexander sits on the faculty of Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, as a Visiting Professor of Social Justice.[5]

In 2018, she was hired as an opinion columnist at The New York Times.[6]

The New Jim Crow[edit]

Alexander published her book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness in 2010. In it, she argued that systemic racial discrimination in the United States resumed following the Civil Rights Movement, and that the resumption is embedded in the US War on Drugs and other governmental policies and is having devastating social consequences. She considered the scope and impact of this to be comparable with that of the Jim Crow laws of the 19th and 20th centuries. Her book concentrated on the high rate of incarceration of African-American men for various crimes.[7] Alexander wrote, "Race plays a major role-indeed, a defining role – in the current system, but not because of what is commonly understood as old-fashioned, hostile bigotry. This system of control depends far more on racial indifference (defined as a lack of compassion and caring about race and racial groups) than racial hostility – a feature it actually shares with its predecessors."[8] The New Jim Crow described how she believes oppressed minorities are "subject to legalized discrimination in employment, housing, public benefits, and jury service, just as their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents once were". Alexander argued the harsh penalty of how "people whose only crime is drug addiction or possession of a small amount of drugs for recreational use find themselves locked out of the mainstream society—permanently—and also highlights the inequality presented from the fact that "blacks are admitted to prison on drug charges at a rate from twenty to fifty-seven times greater than that of white men".[citation needed]

The New Jim Crow was re-released in paperback in 2012. As of March 2012 it had been on The New York Times Best Seller list for six weeks[9] and it also reached number 1 on the Washington Post bestseller list in 2012. The book has also been the subject of scholarly debate and criticism.[10][11][12][13]

In the fall of 2015, all freshmen enrolled at Brown University read The New Jim Crow as part of the campus's First Readings Program initiated by the Office of the Dean of the College and voted on by the faculty.[14]

Yale University clinical law professor James Forman Jr., while acknowledging many similarities and insights in the Jim Crow analogy, has argued that Alexander overstates her case, and leaves out important ways in which the newer system of mass incarceration is different. Forman Jr. identifies Alexander as one of a number of authors who have overstated and misstated their case.[15] He asserts that her framework over-emphasizes the War on Drugs, and ignores violent crimes, asserting that Alexander's analysis is demographically simplistic.

Hidden Colors 2[edit]

Alexander appeared in a 2012 documentary Hidden Colors 2: The Triumph of Melanin, in which she discussed the impact of mass incarceration in melanoid communities. Alexander said: "Today there are more African American adults, under correctional control, in prison or jail, on probation or parole than were enslaved in 1850 a decade before the Civil War began.[16]

Personal life[edit]

In 2002, Alexander married Carter Mitchell Stewart, a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School.[17] Stewart at the time was a senior associate at McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen, a San Francisco law firm,[1] and later was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.[18][19] They have three children.[20] Her father-in-law is a former member of the board of directors of The New York Times.[1]

In a 2019 opinion piece for The New York Times, written subsequent to the passing of the Ohio "Heartbeat Bill", Alexander wrote of being raped during her first semester of law school, becoming pregnant as a result, and then aborting the pregnancy.[21]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Weddings; Michelle Alexander, Carter Stewart" (limited no-charge access), The New York Times, March 24, 2002. Retrieved January 16, 2012.
  2. ^ https://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/64skb3rz9780252033360.html
  3. ^ "Michelle Alexander | Americans Who Tell The Truth". www.americanswhotellthetruth.org. Retrieved December 1, 2016.
  4. ^ Alexander webpage at Ohio State Archived April 17, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ Link text, additional text.
  6. ^ "Michelle Alexander Joins The New York Times Opinion Pages as Columnist". The New York Times Company. June 21, 2018. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  7. ^ Alexander, Michelle, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (New York: The New Press, 2010), ISBN 978-1-59558-103-7.
  8. ^ Alexander, The New Jim Crow, p. 198.
  9. ^ Jennifer Schuessler (March 6, 2012). "Drug Policy as Race Policy: Best Seller Galvanizes the Debate". New York Times. Retrieved December 9, 2012.
  10. ^ James Forman Jr. (February 26, 2012). "Radical Critiques of Mass Incarceration Beyond the New Jim Crow" (PDF). Radical Critiques. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 2, 2013. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
  11. ^ Joseph D. Osel (April 7, 2012). "Black Out: Michelle Alexander's Operational Whitewash" (PDF). International Journal of Radical Critique. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
  12. ^ Greg Thomas (April 26, 2012). "Why Some Like The New Jim Crow So Much". Vox Union. Archived from the original on April 27, 2013. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
  13. ^ Joseph D. Osel (December 15, 2012). "Toward Détournement of The New Jim Crow, or, The Strange Career of The New Jim Crow" (PDF). International Journal of Radical Critique. Retrieved December 20, 2012.
  14. ^ "About The Book", Brown University Library.
  15. ^ Forman, Jr., James (February 26, 2012). "Racial Critiques of Mass Incarceration: Beyond the New Jim Crow". Racial Critiques. 87: 101–146.
  16. ^ Davu, Amarii (February 19, 2014). "Tariq Nasheed Reveals Our Hidden Colors". The Source.
  17. ^ "Hall of Fame entry for 2012 Michelle Alexander, JD '92". Black Community Services Center, Student Affairs. Stanford University. 2017. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
  18. ^ Carter Stewart Archived August 1, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, Main Justice.
  19. ^ http://www.justice.gov/usao/ohs/meetattorney.html
  20. ^ Alexander, The New Jim Crow, p. ix.
  21. ^ "My Rapist Apologized I still needed an abortion.", by Michelle Alexander, May 23, 2019. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  22. ^ "OSI Awards More Than $1.25 Million Nationwide to New Leaders in Criminal Justice Reform", Open Society foundations, January 31, 2005.
  23. ^ "The Heinz Awards :: Recipients". www.heinzawards.net. Retrieved September 27, 2016.
  24. ^ "MLK Dreamer Award :: Recipients". www.odi.osu.edu. Retrieved February 3, 2017.


External links[edit]