Blacks and Crime: A Function of Class

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See generally id. This brings us back to our more central point: as a result of implicit racial biases, officers are more likely to focus their attention on black, rather than white, individuals. For more in-depth analysis of the concepts discussed in this section, see Richardson, supra note 4, at — This is true even when the officers are consciously egalitarian, reject racial profiling, or are black themselves. See Jennifer L. Eberhardt et al. Finally, these implicit biases may cause officers to evaluate any ambiguous behaviors they observe as more consistent with threat and criminality than innocence and may influence how quickly officers identify, or misidentify, weapons.

On some level, the fact that implicit biases influence black and white officers alike should not surprise us, particularly because the nature of police work requires officers to think about crime. Researchers have found that simply thinking about crime is sufficient to trigger unconscious racial biases in police officers and that these biases influence their behaviors in ways that disadvantage blacks.

The very nature of policing, then, is effectively a racial prime for blackness. This is important to note because practicing associations — racial or otherwise — strengthens them. This might explain why officers working in these majority-minority areas exhibit higher levels of implicit bias than those who do not. That we have focused on implicit bias in this way is not to suggest that explicit biases are not also at play. Quite likely they are. Our point is to suggest that, even assuming explicit biases away, the existence of implicit biases still leaves African Americans vulnerable to overpolicing.

Both of us have elsewhere laid out the main perceived threats that cause officers to overpolice black men. The analysis here draws on those frameworks and applies portions of them to black police officers to illuminate how they, too, are susceptible to these self-threats. We are immensely grateful to our respective coauthors in those articles for their contributions to this essay.

Here, as there, we focus on four main threats: social dominance threat, stereotype threat, masculinity threat, and racial solidarity threat. Social Dominance Threat. Felicia Pratto et al. To work smoothly, these ideologies must be widely accepted within a society, appearing as self-apparent truths; hence we call them hierarchy-legitimizing myths.

Under the theory, people who endorse such ideologies are said to have a social dominance orientation, or SDO. Pratto et al. Although scholars typically describe SDO as an individual difference variable, empirical evidence suggests that it is also a group-based phenomenon. Members of high-status groups generally have a stronger SDO than members of lower-status groups. Jim Sidanius et al. Applied Soc. Eric D. Knowles et al. While the former has the potential to effect change, the latter tends to entrench inequality.

Professor Eric Knowles and colleagues found that whites who perceived more threat from blacks tended to endorse procedural colorblindness more strongly. Moreover, asking whites to identify their ethnicity, which was shown in pretesting to cause whites to think about racial threat, was associated with spontaneous generation of procedural as opposed to distributive descriptions of what colorblindness is.

The authors interpreted these findings as evidence that whites feeling threatened would selectively endorse ideologies that maintained their high social status. Social dominance theory likely applies to policing. Various features of police training instantiate norms of social dominance. For example, officers are instructed to maintain control over every interaction because any threat to their authority is potentially dangerous. Alpert, Roger G. For one thing, simply asserting rights could undermine the hierarchy upon which social dominance policing rests. This is precisely why many black parents expressly instruct their children to overcomply during their engagements with the police.

Carbado, E racing the Fourth Amendment , Mich. Lopez , Am. Some of our findings suggest that police act in ways to maintain this disparity. As one scholar observes:. The police may begin a spiral of conflict that increases the risks of harm for both the police and for the public. Tom R. Although not as robust as that of white officers, black police officers typically evidence relatively high levels of SDO. See Sidanius et al. Note that the social dominance literature deals in relative endorsement of statements used to gauge SDO, rather than absolute endorsement, limiting what is known about exactly how strongly officers, or civilians, openly endorse dominance attitudes.

Yet such an orientation does not, a priori, guarantee that black police officers would be committed to social dominance policing. Shana Levin et al. One way to understand this in the context of policing would be to say that black police officers are unlikely to manifest social dominance—oriented policing against other black men unless they perceive the policing practices of their police department to be legitimate.

A range of incentives exist for black police officers to view their departmental practices in precisely this way. A closely related theory to social dominance theory, system justification theory, explores why some low-status group members would endorse hierarchy-enhancing ideologies and engage in other behavior that runs counter to their group interests. For instance, research suggests that low-income individuals tend not to support income redistribution efforts, a perplexing phenomenon. For further discussion of this point, see John T.

This sort of behavior is problematic in the context of classic psychological theories like social identity theory, which predict that individuals will generally act to elevate the status and esteem of themselves and their group. See generally Michael A. Burke ed. The particular overlaps and distinctions between system justification theory and social dominance theory are beyond the scope of this paper. For excellent discussions of the two theories, see Jost et al. First, to view policing practices as illegitimate is to tell oneself that one is doing life-and-death work for a system that is not simply unjust but racially unjust.

Our reference to life and death here is particularly relevant because system justification is predicted by mortality salience, such that individuals who consider their own death frequently tend to system justify more than those who do not. Erin P. Hennes et al. Cognition , , —77 Second, people are more likely to justify systems and organizational cultures when they have a desire to create a common or shared experience.

Eugene A. Third, individuals who are dependent on an organization or system tend to justify it. See Aaron C. To the extent that black and white police officers alike rely on police authority to maintain their safety, they may take comfort in seeing that system as legitimate and well constructed. This should not be taken to suggest that black and white officers experience system justification similarly, however.

To the contrary, an important element of system justification theory is that system justification operates fundamentally differently for high- as opposed to low-status individuals. Note how different a calculus is necessary for low-status individuals, however. For these individuals, system justification motives act counter to group esteem motives.

Media consumption and public attitudes toward crime and justice- JCJPC, Volume 10, Issue 2

For a Latina woman, for instance, believing that the system is just requires that she endorse the view that women, Latinos, and particularly Latina women are less able or less motivated and thus less deserving of high status than whites, men, and particularly white men. Thus, whereas for high-status members of a social system, endorsement of legitimizing myths like meritocracy should be relatively consistent across individuals and situations, for low-status members, the theory dictates that contextual or personal factors will predict whether legitimizing myths are endorsed.


  1. Crime in the Great Depression.
  2. Chapter 7. Deviance, Crime, and Social Control – Introduction to Sociology – 2nd Canadian Edition;
  3. Incarceration & social inequality | American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  4. On Views of Race and Inequality, Blacks and Whites Are Worlds Apart | Pew Research Center?
  5. Inverse and ill-posed problems : theory and applications;

Ho et al. Experimental Soc.


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  • To appreciate how explicit biases might be operating here, it is helpful to distinguish between intentional discrimination on the basis of animus and discrimination on the basis of stereotype. For the most part, black police officers will not harbor racial animus toward other African Americans. That is, blacks do not, on average, associate blackness with negativity and whiteness with positivity. Nosek et al. This claim, however, can be understood fully only in context: whereas blacks on average do not show an implicit bias against their group, they also do not on average show an implicit bias toward their group.

    Rather, they show no evaluative preference at all, which contrasts them with whites, who show a strong implicit preference for their own group. But, for some of the reasons we have already discussed, blacks may harbor racial stereotypes that could cause them both to use violence against other African Americans, on the one hand, and to legitimize the practice more generally, on the other.

    All of this is to say that high-SDO, low-status individuals will sometimes push back against systems that enhance hierarchy. These perceptions would legitimize the utilization of aggressive policing tactics against a group that is presumptively perceived to be violent and dangerous — African Americans generally and black men in particular. See sources cited supra note Stereotype Threat. Stereotype threat refers to the anxiety that occurs when people are concerned about confirming a negative stereotype about a social group they value and to which they belong.

    See Claude M. Psychologist , ; Claude M. People can experience stereotype threat even when they do not endorse the stereotype or believe it applies to them. All that is required is that individuals are aware of the negative stereotype and are in a situation that raises concerns that they will be judged in terms of that stereotype. Across a number of studies, researchers have learned that police officers experience stereotype threat arising from the concern that they will be perceived as racist by the civilians they encounter.

    Disturbingly, these concerns can result in racial violence. Studies demonstrate that the more officers experience stereotype threat, the more likely they are to use greater force against black suspects relative to individuals of other racial groups, both in the lab and in the real world. After all, if officers believe that civilians do not respect their authority, they will be quicker to think that words alone will be insufficient to control the situation and be more likely to use physical force as a result. In fact, one study found that when officers believed that civilians did not respect them and did not view them as legitimate, officers were more likely to believe that interactions with these individuals would be more dangerous.

    Phillip Atiba Goff et al. That finding is particularly problematic for African Americans. Goff et al. Recent research provides evidence to support this theory. The study we have in mind involved police officers from a large urban police department. The more officers experienced stereotype threat, the less likely they were to perceive themselves as legitimate. Furthermore, officers who experienced stereotype threat felt less confident in their authority. Since stereotype threat influences both black and white officers, simply having more diversity in police departments may not, in and of itself, reduce uses of force against black citizens.

    Masculinity Threat. Masculinity threat refers to the fear of being perceived as insufficiently masculine. A script. It is accomplished and re-enacted in everyday relationships. Jonathan R. Weaver et al. Joseph A. Vandello et al. See Jennifer K. See Aiello, supra note , at 72— Seven of the twenty-two departments studied overtly highlighted these gender differences. Susan L. Against the backdrop of the gendered dimensions of the practices and perceptions of policing, male officers comment on the necessity of proving their masculinity through performance of a straight, macho identity.

    See Susan L. Miller et al. For instance, patrol officers may not call for help out of concerns that they will be viewed as insufficiently masculine in the eyes of other officers. All of this helps to explain why male officers may feel vulnerable to their colleagues perceiving them as wanting in masculinity. Researchers have found that masculinity threat predicts uses of force by police against black men both in the lab and in the field. One study found that the more officers were insecure in their masculinity, the more likely they were to use greater force against blacks relative to other racial groups.

    As a theoretical matter, there are reasons to think that black officers are not immune to the masculinity threat phenomenon we have described. This is all the more likely given that being exposed to racism can cause black men to engage in compensatory performances of masculinity. As an empirical matter, at least one line of research indicates that black police officers experience masculinity threat at similar rates to white officers.

    Another line suggests that black officers may experience greater levels of masculinity threat. Professors Kimberly Hassell and Steven Brandl, for example, found, in a study of over a thousand Milwaukee Police Department officers, that black officers were more likely than their white colleagues to report that their peers underestimated their physical ability to do police work, an experience of doubt that has clear implications for masculinity. Kimberly D. While research in the area of masculinity threat remains relatively new, the bottom line for our purposes is that the phenomenon likely impacts black officers.

    For arguments about the importance of racial solidarity in the context of the black community, see Stephen L. For a thoughtful discussion of the politics of this term among the black community, see generally Randall Kennedy, Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal , which details the suspicion of racial betrayal in the black community and examines its manifestations in contemporary politics and culture. See Jacquelyn L. Thompson , supra note 29, at 44 citing John L. There are two reasons to posit that racial solidarity threat could engender aggressive policing.

    First, a black police officer could expect that black suspects, more than suspects of other races, should understand the difficult position in which black police officers find themselves. These suspects should thus make their encounters with the black police officer go as smoothly as possible by performing a kind of surplus compliance. In the absence of such compliance, the black officer may feel a reduced sense of kinship with his racial group.

    He may come to believe that the very fact that the black suspect is being noncompliant means that racial affinity or solidarity is doing no work and that the black suspect is invested in giving the black police officer a hard time. Under these circumstances, the officer would not be able to trade on a racially specific form of moral authority — same-race affinity or community.

    Black officers might experience even more threat when confronted by African American community members who make it known that they view the officer as a race traitor and a sellout, as in Thompson , supra note 29, at 43 citing Cooper , supra note , at One study provides evidence of this: researchers found that when officers believed that civilians did not respect them and did not view them as legitimate, officers experienced concerns that interactions with these civilians would be more dangerous than interactions with civilians who they believed respected their authority and their legitimacy.

    Like other employees in workplaces, how black officers are perceived by their peers matters. Thus, it behooves black police officers to get along with their colleagues, to be good team players, and to fit into their work environment. Professors Devon W. But there are racial constraints on their capacity to do so that could lead them to engage in various forms of racially motivated policing. The effect of this tension is that race — the very thing that might lead one to surmise that black police officers can change the racial culture of policing — might limit their capacity to do so.

    The schematic below provides an indication of what this tension might look like. At Point Two, the black police officer forms a view about the criteria his police department values: in this case, a racially targeted hard-on-crime sensibility. At Point Three, the black police officer experiences a conflict between his sense of identity and his sense of the criteria that the institution values. This conflict has to be negotiated. This takes us to Point Four.

    Here, the officer has to decide whether to compromise his sense of identity. On the other hand, the officer may decide to compromise his sense of self. With the foregoing model in mind, and to make the discussion more specific, imagine that, while driving in a patrol car, a black police officer and a white police officer observe a car change lanes without signaling.

    Stipulate that the driver of the car is a black male in his twenties. On the flip side, the black officer also believes that if he refuses to stop the black driver, his white colleague will perceive him to be racially conscious and soft on crime. The table below suggests that this conflict negotiation likely is a more salient dynamic than we have thus far discussed in that there are likely multiple moments of conflict between norms that a police department might value and stereotypical perceptions about black police officers.

    This table, too, is drawn from previous research on negotiating racial identity in the workplace. As the table reveals, each institutional norm of our hypothetical police department is negatively associated with a stereotype about race. For example, the norm of law abidingness is positioned against the stereotype of blacks as lawbreakers. Similarly, the norm of cooperative institutional citizenship is positioned against the racial stereotype of blacks as uncooperative institutional complainers. These oppositional dualities create an incentive for black police officers to align themselves with the norms that the institution values and signal that they do not have the qualities that are in opposition to those values.

    One could imagine these dynamics affecting other officers of color for similar reasons. United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, U. Elements of the model we have described have been substantiated by psychological research. First, work by Professors Jenessa Shapiro and Steven Neuberg supports the idea that officers of color likely feel a conflict between their own values and those of the white majority, and that they may strategically express bias in order to gain esteem among white peers. The researchers found that black men, more than white men, assumed that facially egalitarian white men were likely to hold unstated racial prejudice.

    Jenessa R. Neuberg, When Do the Stigmatized Stigmatize? Moreover, the researchers found that black men would engage in public displays of bias in contexts where they believed their behavior toward a fellow person of color would be the basis of social evaluation by whites. In other words, though not specifically demonstrated in a police population, this research suggests that blacks engage in precisely the kind of value comparison we describe in Point Two of the model, and further that the choice to engage in bias nonetheless Point Four represents a compromising of their true attitudes.

    Even more alarming, recent research suggests that racially biased policing by black officers seeking approval from white peers may in fact increase the expression of bias among white officers in the department. Professor Ines Jurcevic and colleagues have found that whites who observe a black person putting down a fellow black person will in turn derogate that target too.

    Ines Jurcevic et al. Using the ruse that participants would be helping on a hiring committee, the researchers showed white participants negative evaluations of a job applicant, ostensibly provided by a member of a hiring committee. They varied the race of the applicant as well as the race of the committee member and found that participants rated a black candidate more negatively after hearing a black committee member derogate him than after hearing a white committee member give an identical evaluation. While none of what we have said conclusively establishes that black police officers engage in racial profiling, at the very least the above cautions against framing the problem solely with respect to white police officers.

    Here, as there, we focus on four main threats: social dominance threat, stereotype threat, masculinity threat, and racial solidarity threat. Social Dominance Threat. Felicia Pratto et al. To work smoothly, these ideologies must be widely accepted within a society, appearing as self-apparent truths; hence we call them hierarchy-legitimizing myths. Under the theory, people who endorse such ideologies are said to have a social dominance orientation, or SDO. Pratto et al. Although scholars typically describe SDO as an individual difference variable, empirical evidence suggests that it is also a group-based phenomenon.

    Members of high-status groups generally have a stronger SDO than members of lower-status groups. Jim Sidanius et al. Applied Soc. Eric D. Knowles et al. While the former has the potential to effect change, the latter tends to entrench inequality. Professor Eric Knowles and colleagues found that whites who perceived more threat from blacks tended to endorse procedural colorblindness more strongly.

    Moreover, asking whites to identify their ethnicity, which was shown in pretesting to cause whites to think about racial threat, was associated with spontaneous generation of procedural as opposed to distributive descriptions of what colorblindness is. The authors interpreted these findings as evidence that whites feeling threatened would selectively endorse ideologies that maintained their high social status.

    Social dominance theory likely applies to policing. Various features of police training instantiate norms of social dominance. For example, officers are instructed to maintain control over every interaction because any threat to their authority is potentially dangerous. Alpert, Roger G. For one thing, simply asserting rights could undermine the hierarchy upon which social dominance policing rests.

    This is precisely why many black parents expressly instruct their children to overcomply during their engagements with the police. Carbado, E racing the Fourth Amendment , Mich. Lopez , Am. Some of our findings suggest that police act in ways to maintain this disparity. As one scholar observes:. The police may begin a spiral of conflict that increases the risks of harm for both the police and for the public. Tom R. Although not as robust as that of white officers, black police officers typically evidence relatively high levels of SDO.

    See Sidanius et al. Note that the social dominance literature deals in relative endorsement of statements used to gauge SDO, rather than absolute endorsement, limiting what is known about exactly how strongly officers, or civilians, openly endorse dominance attitudes. Yet such an orientation does not, a priori, guarantee that black police officers would be committed to social dominance policing.

    Shana Levin et al. One way to understand this in the context of policing would be to say that black police officers are unlikely to manifest social dominance—oriented policing against other black men unless they perceive the policing practices of their police department to be legitimate. A range of incentives exist for black police officers to view their departmental practices in precisely this way.

    A closely related theory to social dominance theory, system justification theory, explores why some low-status group members would endorse hierarchy-enhancing ideologies and engage in other behavior that runs counter to their group interests. For instance, research suggests that low-income individuals tend not to support income redistribution efforts, a perplexing phenomenon.

    For further discussion of this point, see John T. This sort of behavior is problematic in the context of classic psychological theories like social identity theory, which predict that individuals will generally act to elevate the status and esteem of themselves and their group.

    See generally Michael A. Burke ed. The particular overlaps and distinctions between system justification theory and social dominance theory are beyond the scope of this paper. For excellent discussions of the two theories, see Jost et al. First, to view policing practices as illegitimate is to tell oneself that one is doing life-and-death work for a system that is not simply unjust but racially unjust.

    Our reference to life and death here is particularly relevant because system justification is predicted by mortality salience, such that individuals who consider their own death frequently tend to system justify more than those who do not. Erin P. Hennes et al.

    Cognition , , —77 Second, people are more likely to justify systems and organizational cultures when they have a desire to create a common or shared experience.

    Material Success and Political Attachment

    Eugene A. Third, individuals who are dependent on an organization or system tend to justify it. See Aaron C. To the extent that black and white police officers alike rely on police authority to maintain their safety, they may take comfort in seeing that system as legitimate and well constructed. This should not be taken to suggest that black and white officers experience system justification similarly, however. To the contrary, an important element of system justification theory is that system justification operates fundamentally differently for high- as opposed to low-status individuals.

    Note how different a calculus is necessary for low-status individuals, however. For these individuals, system justification motives act counter to group esteem motives. For a Latina woman, for instance, believing that the system is just requires that she endorse the view that women, Latinos, and particularly Latina women are less able or less motivated and thus less deserving of high status than whites, men, and particularly white men.

    Thus, whereas for high-status members of a social system, endorsement of legitimizing myths like meritocracy should be relatively consistent across individuals and situations, for low-status members, the theory dictates that contextual or personal factors will predict whether legitimizing myths are endorsed.

    Chicago crime driving exodus of black middle class

    Ho et al. Experimental Soc. To appreciate how explicit biases might be operating here, it is helpful to distinguish between intentional discrimination on the basis of animus and discrimination on the basis of stereotype. For the most part, black police officers will not harbor racial animus toward other African Americans. That is, blacks do not, on average, associate blackness with negativity and whiteness with positivity. Nosek et al. This claim, however, can be understood fully only in context: whereas blacks on average do not show an implicit bias against their group, they also do not on average show an implicit bias toward their group.

    Rather, they show no evaluative preference at all, which contrasts them with whites, who show a strong implicit preference for their own group. But, for some of the reasons we have already discussed, blacks may harbor racial stereotypes that could cause them both to use violence against other African Americans, on the one hand, and to legitimize the practice more generally, on the other. All of this is to say that high-SDO, low-status individuals will sometimes push back against systems that enhance hierarchy.

    These perceptions would legitimize the utilization of aggressive policing tactics against a group that is presumptively perceived to be violent and dangerous — African Americans generally and black men in particular. See sources cited supra note Stereotype Threat. Stereotype threat refers to the anxiety that occurs when people are concerned about confirming a negative stereotype about a social group they value and to which they belong.

    See Claude M. Psychologist , ; Claude M. People can experience stereotype threat even when they do not endorse the stereotype or believe it applies to them. All that is required is that individuals are aware of the negative stereotype and are in a situation that raises concerns that they will be judged in terms of that stereotype. Across a number of studies, researchers have learned that police officers experience stereotype threat arising from the concern that they will be perceived as racist by the civilians they encounter.

    Disturbingly, these concerns can result in racial violence. Studies demonstrate that the more officers experience stereotype threat, the more likely they are to use greater force against black suspects relative to individuals of other racial groups, both in the lab and in the real world. After all, if officers believe that civilians do not respect their authority, they will be quicker to think that words alone will be insufficient to control the situation and be more likely to use physical force as a result.

    In fact, one study found that when officers believed that civilians did not respect them and did not view them as legitimate, officers were more likely to believe that interactions with these individuals would be more dangerous. Phillip Atiba Goff et al. That finding is particularly problematic for African Americans. Goff et al. Recent research provides evidence to support this theory. The study we have in mind involved police officers from a large urban police department. The more officers experienced stereotype threat, the less likely they were to perceive themselves as legitimate.

    Furthermore, officers who experienced stereotype threat felt less confident in their authority. Since stereotype threat influences both black and white officers, simply having more diversity in police departments may not, in and of itself, reduce uses of force against black citizens. Masculinity Threat. Masculinity threat refers to the fear of being perceived as insufficiently masculine. A script. It is accomplished and re-enacted in everyday relationships.

    Jonathan R. Weaver et al. Joseph A. Vandello et al. See Jennifer K. See Aiello, supra note , at 72— Seven of the twenty-two departments studied overtly highlighted these gender differences. Susan L. Against the backdrop of the gendered dimensions of the practices and perceptions of policing, male officers comment on the necessity of proving their masculinity through performance of a straight, macho identity. See Susan L. Miller et al. For instance, patrol officers may not call for help out of concerns that they will be viewed as insufficiently masculine in the eyes of other officers.

    All of this helps to explain why male officers may feel vulnerable to their colleagues perceiving them as wanting in masculinity. Researchers have found that masculinity threat predicts uses of force by police against black men both in the lab and in the field. One study found that the more officers were insecure in their masculinity, the more likely they were to use greater force against blacks relative to other racial groups.

    As a theoretical matter, there are reasons to think that black officers are not immune to the masculinity threat phenomenon we have described. This is all the more likely given that being exposed to racism can cause black men to engage in compensatory performances of masculinity. As an empirical matter, at least one line of research indicates that black police officers experience masculinity threat at similar rates to white officers.

    Another line suggests that black officers may experience greater levels of masculinity threat. Professors Kimberly Hassell and Steven Brandl, for example, found, in a study of over a thousand Milwaukee Police Department officers, that black officers were more likely than their white colleagues to report that their peers underestimated their physical ability to do police work, an experience of doubt that has clear implications for masculinity.

    Kimberly D. While research in the area of masculinity threat remains relatively new, the bottom line for our purposes is that the phenomenon likely impacts black officers. For arguments about the importance of racial solidarity in the context of the black community, see Stephen L. For a thoughtful discussion of the politics of this term among the black community, see generally Randall Kennedy, Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal , which details the suspicion of racial betrayal in the black community and examines its manifestations in contemporary politics and culture.

    See Jacquelyn L. Thompson , supra note 29, at 44 citing John L. There are two reasons to posit that racial solidarity threat could engender aggressive policing. First, a black police officer could expect that black suspects, more than suspects of other races, should understand the difficult position in which black police officers find themselves.

    These suspects should thus make their encounters with the black police officer go as smoothly as possible by performing a kind of surplus compliance. In the absence of such compliance, the black officer may feel a reduced sense of kinship with his racial group. He may come to believe that the very fact that the black suspect is being noncompliant means that racial affinity or solidarity is doing no work and that the black suspect is invested in giving the black police officer a hard time. Under these circumstances, the officer would not be able to trade on a racially specific form of moral authority — same-race affinity or community.

    Black officers might experience even more threat when confronted by African American community members who make it known that they view the officer as a race traitor and a sellout, as in Thompson , supra note 29, at 43 citing Cooper , supra note , at One study provides evidence of this: researchers found that when officers believed that civilians did not respect them and did not view them as legitimate, officers experienced concerns that interactions with these civilians would be more dangerous than interactions with civilians who they believed respected their authority and their legitimacy.

    Like other employees in workplaces, how black officers are perceived by their peers matters. Thus, it behooves black police officers to get along with their colleagues, to be good team players, and to fit into their work environment. Professors Devon W. But there are racial constraints on their capacity to do so that could lead them to engage in various forms of racially motivated policing. The effect of this tension is that race — the very thing that might lead one to surmise that black police officers can change the racial culture of policing — might limit their capacity to do so.


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    • The schematic below provides an indication of what this tension might look like. At Point Two, the black police officer forms a view about the criteria his police department values: in this case, a racially targeted hard-on-crime sensibility. At Point Three, the black police officer experiences a conflict between his sense of identity and his sense of the criteria that the institution values. This conflict has to be negotiated. This takes us to Point Four.

      Here, the officer has to decide whether to compromise his sense of identity. On the other hand, the officer may decide to compromise his sense of self. With the foregoing model in mind, and to make the discussion more specific, imagine that, while driving in a patrol car, a black police officer and a white police officer observe a car change lanes without signaling. Stipulate that the driver of the car is a black male in his twenties. On the flip side, the black officer also believes that if he refuses to stop the black driver, his white colleague will perceive him to be racially conscious and soft on crime.

      The table below suggests that this conflict negotiation likely is a more salient dynamic than we have thus far discussed in that there are likely multiple moments of conflict between norms that a police department might value and stereotypical perceptions about black police officers. This table, too, is drawn from previous research on negotiating racial identity in the workplace.

      As the table reveals, each institutional norm of our hypothetical police department is negatively associated with a stereotype about race. For example, the norm of law abidingness is positioned against the stereotype of blacks as lawbreakers. Similarly, the norm of cooperative institutional citizenship is positioned against the racial stereotype of blacks as uncooperative institutional complainers. These oppositional dualities create an incentive for black police officers to align themselves with the norms that the institution values and signal that they do not have the qualities that are in opposition to those values.

      One could imagine these dynamics affecting other officers of color for similar reasons. United States v. Brignoni-Ponce, U. Elements of the model we have described have been substantiated by psychological research. First, work by Professors Jenessa Shapiro and Steven Neuberg supports the idea that officers of color likely feel a conflict between their own values and those of the white majority, and that they may strategically express bias in order to gain esteem among white peers. The researchers found that black men, more than white men, assumed that facially egalitarian white men were likely to hold unstated racial prejudice.

      Jenessa R. Neuberg, When Do the Stigmatized Stigmatize? Moreover, the researchers found that black men would engage in public displays of bias in contexts where they believed their behavior toward a fellow person of color would be the basis of social evaluation by whites. In other words, though not specifically demonstrated in a police population, this research suggests that blacks engage in precisely the kind of value comparison we describe in Point Two of the model, and further that the choice to engage in bias nonetheless Point Four represents a compromising of their true attitudes.

      Even more alarming, recent research suggests that racially biased policing by black officers seeking approval from white peers may in fact increase the expression of bias among white officers in the department. Professor Ines Jurcevic and colleagues have found that whites who observe a black person putting down a fellow black person will in turn derogate that target too. Ines Jurcevic et al. Using the ruse that participants would be helping on a hiring committee, the researchers showed white participants negative evaluations of a job applicant, ostensibly provided by a member of a hiring committee.

      They varied the race of the applicant as well as the race of the committee member and found that participants rated a black candidate more negatively after hearing a black committee member derogate him than after hearing a white committee member give an identical evaluation. While none of what we have said conclusively establishes that black police officers engage in racial profiling, at the very least the above cautions against framing the problem solely with respect to white police officers. Black officers and other officers of color likely racially profile as well.

      They should thus figure more prominently in our discussions of the problem and the interventions we fashion to eliminate it. Below we add two additional factors: 1 the structure and organization of police departments, including how those departments allocate work; and 2 the legal backdrop against which police officers act. With respect to this second factor, our particular focus is on the Fourth Amendment. As we will explain, Fourth Amendment law permits police officers to force interactions with civilians with little or no basis.

      Black police officers, and not just white police officers, likely take advantage of this power. Many people would be surprised to learn that police departments are sometimes run like businesses. There are bottom lines, quotas, and benchmarks that must be met. One of the most pernicious examples of this dynamic can be found in Ferguson, Missouri.

      Civil Rights Div. Moreover, additional officers were hired, and shifts were extended to increase opportunities for municipal code enforcement. Jerome H. City of New York, F. This type of proactive policing is typically carried out in indigent, minority neighborhoods.

      Don’t Blame Police Racism for America’s Violence Epidemic

      Recall that in his book, Forman highlights how violent crime rates led many African American leaders to embrace tough-on-crime measures, including proactive policing pp. They were not the only ones to do so; on the contrary, those officials were trading on a much broader law-and-order impulse, the intellectual precursors of which were manifested, among other places, in a essay by Professors James Wilson and George Kelling titled Broken Windows: The Police and Neighborhood Safety.

      James Q. Kelling and Wilson argued that police could reduce major crimes by focusing on minor crimes that signaled physical and social disorder such as public urination and drinking, loitering, and panhandling. Racial division was a consequence, not a precondition, of US slavery, but once it was instituted it became detached from its initial function and acquired a social potency of its own.

      Ghetto North, — The sheer brutality of caste oppression in the South, the decline of cotton agriculture due to floods and the boll weevil, and the pressing shortage of labour in Northern factories caused by the outbreak of World War 1 created the impetus for African-Americans to emigrate en masse to the booming industrial centers of the Midwest and Northeast over 1.

      Blacks had entered the Fordist industrial economy, to which they contributed a vital source of abundant and cheap labour willing to ride along its cycles of boom and bust. The era of the ghetto as paramount mechanism of ethnoracial domination had opened with the urban riots of —19 in East St. Louis, Chicago, Longview, Houston, etc.

      It closed with a wave of clashes, looting and burning that rocked hundreds of American cities from coast to coast, from the Watts uprising of to the riots of rage and grief triggered by the assassination of Martin Luther King in the summer of On the side of ethnoracial closure , the decades-long mobilization of African-Americans against caste rule finally succeeded, in the propitious political conjuncture of crisis stemming from the Vietnam war and assorted social unrest, in forcing the federal state to dismantle the legal machinery of caste exclusion.

      Having secured voting and civil rights, blacks were at long last full citizens who would no longer brook being shunted off into the separate and inferior world of the ghetto. They then turned against the welfare state and those social programmes upon which the collective advancement of blacks was most dependent.

      To grasp the deep kinship between ghetto and prison, which helps explain how the structural decline and functional redundancy of the one led to the unexpected ascent and astonishing growth of the other during the last quarter-century, it is necessary first to characterize accurately the ghetto. This parallel institutional nexus affords the subordinate group a measure of protection, autonomy and dignity, but at the cost of locking it in a relationship of structural subordination and dependency. It is thus formed of the same four fundamental constituents—stigma, coercion, physical enclosure and organizational parallelism and insulation—that make up a ghetto, and for similar purposes.

      By the end of the seventies, then, as the racial and class backlash against the democratic advances won by the social movements of the preceding decade got into full swing, the prison abruptly returned to the forefront of American society and offered itself as the universal and simplex solution to all manners of social problems.

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