Free Essay On “African Americans And Crime”:
Stereotypes have long been in existence, and there are about as many of them as there are visible differences between people. For whatever reason, these differences are the subject of prejudice and discrimination, and it is often reflected in discussions as stereotypes. However, very rarely are stereotypes factual. There may be anecdotal evidence that a person from a specific demographic exhibited a particular behavior, but that does not mean it should be applied to an entire group. This does a disservice to understanding and compassion in a very multicultural world. One particular stereotype that promotes fear but lacks any factual foundation is the stereotype that black youths and adults, particularly men, are dangerous and liable to commit crime.
The recent controversial news reports about situations like with Michael Brown and the officer who shot him have brought this stereotype into the spotlight, and it is a necessary stereotype to debunk. The facts of the matter are quite simple. Black youths are no more likely to commit a crime than any other youth. According to Mike Males, “For nearly all serious and minor offenses, including homicide, rates among black teenagers nationally were lower in 2011 than when racial statistics were first collected nationally in 1964. Black youths’ murder arrest rates are considerably lower today than back when Bill Cosby was funny.” He goes on to explain that “Today’s young African Americans display the lowest rates of crime and serious risk of any generation that can be reliably assessed.” He supports this statement with hard evidence: “In the last 20 years in particular, the FBI reports, rates of crime among African American youth have plummeted: All offenses (down 47%), drug offenses (down 50%), property offenses (down 51%), serious Part I offenses (down 53%), assault (down 59%), robbery (down 60%), all violent offenses (down 60%), rape (down 66%), and murder (down 82%).” The facts are clear as can be. However, the media continue to sensationalize and perpetuate this stereotype, and the way the media treats stories like the ones about Trevonte Martin and Michael Brown only add to this stereotype.
This stereotype isn’t limited to youth. Often, it is applied to the entire race. But there is no foundation of fact to support this either. According to Radley Balko, “Black homicides have been falling since the mid-1990s (as have all homicides).” In addition, he states, “not only is the rate of interracial killing going down, the rate of interracial killing among strangers -- murders more likely to be brought about by raw racism -- is dropping even faster.” Perhaps it isn’t just violent crime that gives Black youth a bad reputation. Often the conversation turns to drugs, but Balko tackles this as well. “Blacks are arrested for drug crimes at much higher rates than whites despite similar rates of drug use, you could make a strong argument that at least with respect to the criminal justice system, there really is a war on young black men.” This is an important point. This piece of evidence suggests racial profiling, while debunking the popular myth. He supports these statements with additional facts and rhetoric, and when he reaches his conclusion, it is profound. He explains, “If black people are continually told that self-defense laws are creating a class of white vigilantes, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, they'll begin to view white people with more suspicion. If white people are regularly told that black America is growing more violent, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, they'll begin to view black people with more suspicion.” And this is what will lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy brought on by nothing more than fear and false stereotypes.
Stereotypes can be extremely destructive, and in this case, that is exactly what happens. In fact, these stereotypes have turned deadly, and it is important to get the facts dispersed instead of the stereotypes. The facts are out there: Black men are no more dangerous or violent than anyone else. They just have the unfortunate struggle of having to defend themselves against ugly stereotypes.
Balko, Radley. “The Good News About Race And Crime In America.” Huffington Post. Huffingtonpost.com, 24 July 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
Males, Mike. “Why the Gigantic, Decades-Long Drop in Black Youth Crime Threatens Major Interests.” Justice Not Jails. Justicenotjails.org, 19 Aug. 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2015.
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