Used to anchor a show on Court TV, and when we heard about a new arrest for some horrific crime, my African American co-host would whisper, “Please don’t let him be black.” It would never enter my mind to wish that a bad guy not be white, because no matter how sick the crime, other members of the white race are not impugned.
Nationwide research has shown that the public perceives that blacks are involved in a greater percentage of violent crime than official statistics indicate they actually are.
The standard assumption that criminals are black and blacks are criminals is so prevalent that in one study, 60 percent of viewers who viewed a crime story with no picture of the perpetrator falsely recalled seeing one, and of those, 70 percent believed he was African American. When we think about crime, we “see black,” even when it’s not present at all.
Where did this insulting stereotype come from? The black-as-criminal image has been with us at least since the nineteenth century, when explicit racism portrayed African American slaves’ essential nature as ignorant and savage, in need of the “civilizing” influence of the white man.
White slavers, who should have been the real criminals, imprisoned African Americans on their plantations, forcing them to live short, harsh lives in extreme poverty, working without any compensation, constantly subjecting them to regular beatings and threats of violence. Female slaves were often raped by white male slave owners. Well into the twentieth century lynchings of blacks in the southern United States were not only common but were social events where white families would bring the children and a picnic lunch, and take pictures of the hanging, to be made into commemorative postcards. On average, an African American man, woman, or child was hanged, generally by a white mob, once a week, every week between 1882 and 1930, as police actively participated or stood by and condoned the murders. Lynchings continued until the 1950s, as thousands of black Americans were hanged for offenses like “disputing with a white man.” (A much smaller number of whites were lynched as well, often for taking the side of a black person.)
Our history brims with centuries of repulsive acts of viciousness perpetrated by whites against millions of African Americans, no white-as-criminal trope ever took hold. This can only be attributed to the triumph of propaganda over reality.
Statistics don’t take into account unequal policing. Many people are unaware of the huge disparity of law enforcement resources applied to majority black urban neighborhoods in comparison to the relatively lax policing of white suburbs. Police departments send legions of officers to patrol inner city neighborhoods, with high concentrations of blacks, stopping, questioning, and frisking African Americans (and Hispanics), and where law enforcement has more eyes on a community, it finds more offenses. Once in the “sticky” criminal justice system, young men of color are likely to find themselves under correctional control, monitored, watched for many years, even after release from incarceration. To make room for the skyrocketing number of Americans (disproportionately men of color) incarcerated in the last few decades, we’ve slashed and generally eliminated prison counseling, drug treatment programs, education and vocational programs. Once released, ex-cons are legally discriminated against by employers, denied food stamps, access to public housing, school loans, professional licenses, and access to many other basic services. As a result, the United States has a high recidivism rate, as drug dealing and other criminal enterprises are the rare occupations that offer jobs to released former inmates. In inner city neighborhoods, it’s easy to fall under correctional control, and once in, it’s tough to get out.
Police departments, driven by a desire to increase their drug arrest statistics, concentrate on minority or poorer neighborhoods. Focusing on low-level offenses is easier and cheaper than investigating serious crimes, and drives those arrest numbers high, triggering increased funding. And so hundreds of thousands of inner city residents are arrested, convicted, and incarcerated for having a joint, a cookie, or a baggie of marijuana in their pocket, even though the majority of Americans favor legalization.
When was the last time you saw a drug sweep in the suburbs?
If one reasoned only from arrest records, one would conclude that blacks are four times as likely as whites to smoke marijuana. And we know that would be wrong. Reasoning backward from arrest or imprisonment statistics to conclude that minority groups are violent criminals is equally flawed.
We know that police disproportionately target neighborhoods of color, so that’s where the vast majority of arrests occur. That does not necessarily mean that’s where most of the criminals are.
Read more: http://www.copsrcorrupt.com/cops-are-corrupt.html