Carleton College, Northfield, MN February 10th, 2012Michelle Alexander is a highly acclaimed civil rights lawyer, advocate, and legal scholar who currently holds a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University. Prior to joining the Kirwan Institute, Professor Alexander was an Associate Professor of Law at Stanford Law School, where she directed the Civil Rights Clinic.Alexander challenges the conventional wisdom that, with the election of Barack Obama as president, our nation has "triumphed over race." Jim Crow laws were wiped off the books decades ago, but today an astounding percentage of the African American community is warehoused in prisons or trapped in a permanent, second-class status, much like their grandparents before them who lived under an explicit system of racial control. Alexander argues that the sudden and dramatic mass incarceration of African American men, primarily through the War on Drugs, has created a new racial under caste—a group of people defined largely by race that is subject to legalized discrimination, scorn, and social exclusion. The old forms of discrimination—discrimination in employment, housing, education, and public benefits; denial of the right to vote; and exclusion from jury service—are suddenly legal once you're labeled a felon. She 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. The title of her presentation was "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness."