The New Jim Crow

So what does a book about racism and criminal justice have to do with LabVIEW? Well on the surface, not a whole lot. Until you realize that all code is written by and for humans. Anything that helps us better understand ourselves and the human condition will make us a better coder. Also as GeePaw Hill says “There are more important things than geekery” We can get back to geekery in the next blogpost.

The New Jim Crow is in depth look at the criminal justice system in America and it’s many inequities. Basically the premise of the book is that Jim Crow never went away, it was just replaced with something more subtle: a combination of over-policing, mass incarceration, 3 strikes laws, discrimination against ex-cons, etc. It was no longer socially acceptable to be openly racist. But we, as a society, could easily associate black people with crime and then become hard on crime. The result is the same: oppression, except that it gives us as a society plausible deniability.

There’s a lot more to the book, but that’s the basic idea. It’s well researched. It’s got lots of examples to prove its point. We all kind of know that the justice system is broken in a lot of ways. This book puts it all together and points out the pattern. It’s very eye-opening book. I highly recommend it.

2 Comments on “The New Jim Crow

  1. If you are looking for a good book that does relate LabVIEW (programming) to racism, you should check out “Race After Technology” It basically outlines how technology can unknowingly reinforce racism and stereotypes if we do not actively try to build our technology with those thoughts in mind. The author gave a speech at previous company I worked at. Super interesting.

    • Thanks for pointing that book out. I will have to check it out. There was a book I saw (I wish I could remember the name) that specifically talked about racism and AI/ML. It’s a little confronting, because we all like to think that we are not racist and that technology is not racist and it’s just kind of this impartial thing, but when you look at the outcomes it’s kind of hard to deny that the whole process doesn’t have some racist outcomes. To tie this particular book a little closer to LabVIEW, I know a guy who uses LabVIEW to test alcohol monitors and GPS ankle monitors for people awaiting trial and on parole. He’s definitely part of the system. I don’t think he has any influence on how it is used, but he participates in the system. Hopefully at least he is eliminating false readings and making them more reliable. I guess you could view that as a small positive impact.

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