Blacks in Criminal Justice

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Isaiah Powell
Barbra York
English Composition 102
Research Essay (Final)
30 November 2007

Guilty By Race

“GET THE FUCK ON THE GROUND NOW!” As soon as we turned we saw two African-American teenagers several years younger than us, with silver and black guns pointed directly at our heads. I would’ve never thought in a million years I would be a victim of aggravated robbery (becomes aggravated when a weapon is involved). I livedin my neighborhood for almost twelve years and never once felt afraid to walk alone at night. That night, I was walking home from my grandmothers with a friend; it was only a fifteen minute walk. The street we were walking down was a well lit,rural street, with cars driving through regularly. This area was one of the few places I would’ve thought of being victimized. As we lay on the ground, we were searched for valuables. As I was lying in the middle of the street, one of the guys explained to me, “IF YOU EVEN MOVE YOUR HEAD AN INCH, I’LL BLOW YOUR BRAINS OUT!” After the mugger’s comment I felt him place the cold, hard gun to my head. It was the scariest moment in my life; my whole body was trembling with fear. Once the second gunman cleared my friend’s pockets, the two took off running. The moment they left they fired off several shots. We remained on the ground for five, long minutes. Afterwards we got up, sprinted the remaining distance to my house, and then called the police. I’ve never considered being robbed by an African-American because I don’t associate crime with a color, but after being robbed at gun-point it makes it extremely difficult not to. But instead of blaming an entire race, I sat aside my differences. This is not the case for others. Author Barry Glassner writes, “when it comes to race, the more obvious the pattern the more obscure it seems,” (Glassner 114). When we first hear about crimes that are committed, we automatically assume that the assailant is guilty. Yet often in time it’s not the case. As a society we find ourselves fearing things that we shouldn’t. In, The Culture of Fear, Glassner makes the argument that African-Americans are among society’s list of imagined fears. He feels that society no longer focuses on “real” fears but rather on “imagined” fears. Society basically spends more time trying to fix things that really doesn’t need to be fixed, and that because we cannot fix the “real” fears we attack the “imaginary” fears. When society associates African-Americans with crime, we dehumanize the American culture. We shouldn’t blame a race for the mistakes of a handful. The media and politics have made it possible for society to continue associating African-Americans with crime. Through cause and effect it can be seen that associating Africans-Americans with crime has affected all Americans. With the media, politics, and the psychological fears they place in our society, we do the African-American community an injustice by associating them with crime. As a young African-American I’ve experienced my own accounts of racism. Unfortunately I’m not the only one to fall victim to racism. All over the United States, African-Americans fall prey to racism. In 2006, there were 7,163 hate crimes reported in the United States; around 4,000 were racially bias hate crime incidents (Department). The crimes consisted of intimidation, destruction/damage/vandalism, simple assault, and aggravated assault. Some of the hate crimes documented involved police officers committing acts of discrimination. People argue that African-Americans account for most of the crime committed in the United States, and that it’s accurate to associate them with crime. As a victim, I’m more wary of African-American males. With fears like this we’re associating African-Americans to crimes that most have never committed. Glassner mentions that, “black men are about eighteen times more likely to be murdered than is a white woman, that for black men between the ages of...
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