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I’m a quiet and reserved person in most real-life conversations, but nonfiction is one of those topics that makes me light up. If we ever meet in person and you want to see the talkative side of Lydia, just mention nonfiction you’ve enjoyed or ask me what I’ve been reading lately in that genre.
Without giving into my urge to share a dozen different answers to this week’s prompt, the best nonfiction title I’ve read is The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander.
The author did an excellent job of explaining how systemic racism affects every aspect of the prison system as well as what happens to former prisoners after they are released and try to reintegrate into society.
What I liked the most about this book was how thorough it was. This obviously isn’t something that has a quick or easy solution, but the more we all know about how this system works the better we can become at (hopefully) fixing it and breaking the cycles of incarceration and crime that so many people become stuck in due to racism (among other reasons).
A relative of mine used to work in a prison and would sometimes share (non-identifying) stories about some of their clients and how difficult it is for prisoners to access certain services while they’re incarcerated and to find legal work and build stable lives for themselves once they’re released. Race only adds yet another layer of hardship to people stuck in those circumstances and makes it that much trickier to get out.
Even though Canadian laws are less punitive for certain crimes than American ones are, I have to say that we have a lot to work on in this area as well. This book is about the U.S., but the problem definitely isn’t confined to that one country.