The following questions can be used during and after reading.
- What was the goal of the Southern “Redemption”? What were whites seeking? What were their tactics? What were the effects on Reconstruction?
- How did the withdrawal of federal troops from the South after Reconstruction change what Alexander calls the “racial equilibrium”?
- How did the harsh enforcement of vagrancy laws threaten to place African Americans into a new form of slavery?
- How was the idea of white supremacy used as a racial bribe to gain support for segregation? What does Alexander mean when she writes that for poor whites the “racial bribe was primarily psychological”?
- What were some of the areas of daily life where Jim Crow laws disenfranchised and discriminated against African Americans? Give an example of the harm done to an individual experiencing discrimination. Now consider the exponential harm and collective suffering caused by Jim Crow. As systems of racialized social control, what are the similarities between Jim Crow and slavery?
- What is commonly understood to be the beginning and end of Reconstruction, Jim Crow and the civil rights movement? What issues does Alexander raise as problematic about these markers?
- What two factors does Alexander identify as significant in bringing about a Northern consensus that Jim Crow needed to end?
- What was the contradiction between Jim Crow segregation and the United States role in WWII? How did this contradiction undermine the United States’ criticisms of communism?
- What Supreme Court decisions preceded Brown v. Board of Education and created a pattern of desegregation? Look back at question six. In what specific areas of daily life did these decisions provide protection from Jim Crow?
- How did Brown v. Board of Education differ from the Supreme Court’s previous desegregation rulings?
- Describe Southern white opposition to Brown v. Board of Education and the impact of their resistance.
- List some of the tactics civil rights activists used to counter white resistance to desegregation. What impact did their activism have on Jim Crow? Cite two specific accomplishments of the civil rights movement in permanently reversing segregation.
- How did the civil rights movement evolve in its approach to bring about true equality? What opportunities for alliance building were created by this shift?
- What are the “needs and constraints” racial caste had to conform to in the post-civil rights era? What are your predictions about how conservative whites re-created a racial order to meet their interests in light of the death of slavery and Jim Crow?
- While most people may know that the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolished slavery, fewer know that it still allowed for slavery, as well as indentured servitude, as a punishment for crime. Prior to reading the excerpt from The New Jim Crow, did you know that? How does this knowledge change your thinking about emancipation and more generally about race in the United States?
- Alexander writes that the racial bribe to poor whites during Jim Crow was merely “psychological” in that their actual quality of life was not made better by segregation. Describe a situation you’ve experienced or seen where a person or group was given a false sense of racial superiority.
- This chapter highlights the important role the Supreme Court played in dismantling Jim Crow. Has the court system of your lifetime tended to rule in ways that protect the rights of minorities and the disadvantaged? Give examples to support your view.