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New Jim Crow Lesson 10

Dismantling Racial Caste

Hello and welcome to Southern Fried Socialist and Lesson 9 of the Teach Tolerance Lesson Plan for the New Jim Crow. Michelle Alexander was inspired to write The New Jim Crow while working as a civil rights lawyer at the ACLU, and you can read her interview with Teaching Tolerance : A Conversation with Michelle Alexander . Teach Tolerance’s mission is to Discover and develop world-class materials with a community of educators committed to diversity, equity and justice.

What is needed to end mass incarceration and permanently eliminate racial caste in the United States? Legal and policy solutions alone are not enough to dismantle racial caste because the methods of racial control within this system are “legal” and rarely appear as outwardly discriminatory. A social movement that confronts the role of race and cultivates an ethic of care must form or else a new racial caste system will emerge in the future.

Essential Question

        • What is needed to end mass incarceration and permanently eliminate racial caste in the United States?

Tier II and III vocabulary

        • Advocate – a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy
        • Alienate – cause (someone) to feel isolated or estranged
        • Bewilderment – a feeling of being perplexed and confused
        • Brutality – savage physical violence; great cruelty
        • Consciousness – the state of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings
        • Consensus – general agreement
        • Contingent – subject to chance
        • Distort – pull or twist out of shape
        • Illusion – a thing that is or is likely to be wrongly perceived or interpreted by the senses
        • Litigation – the process of taking legal action
        • Manipulation – to control or play upon by artful, unfair, or insidious means especially to one’s own advantage
        • Noose – a loop with a slipknot that binds closer the more it is drawn
        • Paradigm – a typical example or pattern of something; a model
        • Pragmatic – dealing with things sensibly and realistically in a way that is based on practical rather than theoretical considerations
        • Vigilant – keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties

Warm Up

Exercise 1: Respond to the following in your own writing. Sharing is up to you.


Today, we have the guided reading excerpt from the final chapter of The New Jim Crow. In this chapter, titled “The Fire This Time,” Alexander outlines what it will take, in her opinion, to permanently dismantle racial caste in the United States.

        • Based on what we have read thus far and your familiarity with her writing, what are two things you predict she might say?
        • Can you compare and evaluate different ideas about how to end racial caste and bring about racial justice in the United States?
        • Can you be part of the solution? What plans would you make to Do Something ?

Chapter 6

Exercise 1: Video, James Baldwin gives comments on the education system, public education, education as it pertains to Black children, and education within racist institutions.



Exercise 2.  Infographic, Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track “School-to-Prison Pipeline”. This infographic illustrates many of the causes and triggers of the school-to-prison pipeline and provides statistics and facts to show the harmful impact on particular student groups.

Advancement Project.….
        • In your opinion, what are the three most shocking things ?
        • Have you ever experienced this, or seen a friend go through it?
        • How do you think your life would have been directly affected if this was the case for you personally?




Guided Reading : Lesson 10


Exercise 3. This lesson focused on an excerpt from “The Fire This Time,” the final chapter of The New Jim Crow. During the Warm Up you speculated about what you thought she might say in this chapter. Revisit that response and answer the following questions now, after having read the excerpt:


        1. Was your prediction in some part correct? Explain?
        2. How would you sum up the way Alexander responds to the essential question: “What social change is needed in order to permanently dismantle racial caste in the United States?”


Full Audio : Chapter 6


1. Salim Muwakkil, “Jena and the Post–Civil Rights Fallacy,” In These Times , Oct. 16, 2007.
2. See “Study Finds Whites Anxious About Race,” Bryant Park Project, National Public Radio, Dec. 3, 2007.
3 For a more detailed exploration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s journey from civil rights to human rights, see Thomas F. Jackson, From Civil Rights to Human Rights: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Struggle for Economic Justice (Philadelphia: Universityof Pennsylvania Press, 2006); and Stewart Burns, To the Mountaintop: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Sacred Mission to Save America (New York: Harper One, 2005).
4. For background on the nature, structure, and history of human rights, see Cynthia Soohoo et al., eds., Bringing Human Rights Home, vol. 1 (New York: Praeger, 2007).
5 James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (New York: Vintage, 1962, 1993), 5–10.