On January 30, 2014, The New York City Department of Social Work premiered the Catalyst for Compassion Book Club with a discussion on Michelle Alexander’s book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.
Approximately thirty people, including students, alumni, social workers, and faculty, attended the meeting to discuss the issues Michelle Alexander described in her book: massive incarceration of African American and Hispanic American youths, who are relegated to a permanent second class status when they are released, stripped of the very rights supposedly won in the civil rights movement, such as the right to vote, the right to serve on juries, the right to be free of legal discrimination and employment, and access to education and public benefits.
It started with several presenters’ reflections on the book: “It was too shocking to process by myself.” “I didn’t like the book because it was true.” “It was a hard-read and painful.” “It is my favorite book since reading it in my class.”
The guest speaker, Rev. Ruben Austria, the founding Executive Director of Community Connections, shared his personal experience of working with youths and his involvement with finding alternatives to incarceration, and emphasized the church’s role in helping youths and changing the criminal justice system.
After the presentations, the participants were assigned into break-out groups, where they were presented with questions of reflection and later had the opportunity to share feedback with the audience. The participants responded to the first book club meeting positively, and they felt that the discussions were informative and thought-provoking.
The presenters included:
Delia Kim (MSW, Founder and Director of Young Governors, a youth empowerment program based out of New Life Community Development Corporation);
David Fritz (LMSW, Forensic Social Worker, Legal Aid Society of New York City);
Marcia Hererra (MSW, Youth Social Worker for the Community Health Action of Staten Island);
Joseph Ray (BSW, Nyack College alumnus; Facilitator, Fortune Society)
The Catalyst for Compassion Book Club was formed to provide a forum where students, alumni, educators, and community practitioners gather to promote a just and caring society with compassion by integrating their Christian faith and social work practice. The book club’s purpose is to facilitate critical thinking and discussion of crucial and current issues through reading and discussing relevant books.
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For more information on the book: http://newjimcrow.com/