There are undoubtedly plenty an example of media hype
surrounding urban crime, particularly as it pertains to and involves people of
color. It's what sells because it
captures people's attention. The
media plays on the stereotypes white Americans have of inner city depravity. The fear and paranoia is that "colored
people" will bring down property values as Patricia J. Williams experienced when
buying her house. She wrote so
eloquently in her article, Of Race and Risk that, "It is a dispiriting
message: that some in society apparently not only devalue black people but
devalue themselves and their homes just for having us as part of their
landscape." (p.169 CP) Speaking as
someone who lived on 32nd and Chicago Avenue in South Central
Minneapolis for eight years as a homeowner I can speak with confidence how
people from the "outside" viewed my neighbors and neighborhood. Yes, we had problems like all
neighborhoods do, but there was a commitment and solidarity by most everyone
who lived there to improve their lives along with the vitality, and safety of
their community. We were in it
together. You can't bury your head
in the sand and pretend bad things don't happen or that there are injustices in
the world. And yes, living on
Chicago Avenue I was confronted with the disparities in our society but I would
argue that it makes you a better citizen.
In the city you have to stay connected. There is energy and a passion that I would guess you don't
find in the suburbs. I agree with Lorraine Delia Kenny on some level in her
article Daughter of Suburbia: Growing Up White, Middle Class, and Female
that there is a false sense of normalcy and a twisted view of superiority when
looking in from a culturally white, "middle class" (the meaning of which being
a whole other topic of discussion) glass house. Ms. Kenny talks about the "Insider-Other" whom live insulated
lives within the suburbs, and about the false sense of emotional, and physical security
by those who live there.
Contrast this to the perception people have of people of color who
no doubt get more media attention when they are involved in a crime. They are
also targeted to a greater degree.
And when they enter the criminal or civil "justice" system are treated
disproportionally more harshly.
I'm sure we've all heard the term, Driving While Black (DWB) as
a reason that African-Americans are pulled over in higher numbers then whites
by the police for minor infractions or simply as an excuse to check someone out
that they deem as suspect.
When I was online looking for a news article that highlights
this weeks reading I was struck by the fact that the United States has the
largest prison population in the world.
There is no clearer example of our institutionalized racism, and
With regard to men
who are incarcerated here in the United States according to a 2002 report by
the Justice Policy Institute, 10.4% of the African-American male population
ages 25-29 are in prison, more then are in college. Then compare this to 2.4% of Hispanic men and 1.2% of white
men within the same age group.
I found this at the Huffington Post online, which I thought, was
"Then there's the
feminization of poverty and racial stereotyping. More than one out of three
black women jailed did not complete high school, were unemployed, or had
incomes below the poverty level at the time of their arrest. More than half of
them were single parents.
While black men are typed
as violent, drug dealing "gangstas," black women are typed as
sexually loose, conniving, untrustworthy, welfare queens. Many of the mostly
middle-class judges and jurors believe that black women offenders are menaces
to society too."
"There is little sign that
this will change. The public and policy makers are deeply rapped in the damaging
cycle of myths, misconceptions and crime fear hysteria about crime-on-the-loose
women. They are loath to ramp up funds and programs for job and skills
training, drug treatment, education, childcare and health, and parenting
skills. Yet, this is still the best way to keep more women from winding up
Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/earl-ofari-hutchinson/why-so-many-black-women-a_b_35409.html