Black Stereotyping as Criminals
African-Americans are one of the main minority groups in the United States. This group immigrated into the country as slaves and although it is long since the end of slavery, the group still experiences a high level of discrimination and stereotyping in the modern world. This is particularly identified in the criminal justice system. Black Americans only account for 13.4% of the U.S. population. However, they account for about 38% of the total number of prisoners in the country. This is mostly attributed to the stereotypical connection between crime and Blacks. The Black stereotyping as criminals is highly pervasive in the entire society such that the “criminal predator” phrase is utilized as a “young Black male” euphemism. The collective stereotype has wrongly acted as a subtle justification for unofficial practice and policy of racial profiling particularly in the criminal justice system (Kelly, 1 ).
Blacks are normal human beings fighting so many odds to survive. However, they cannot live their life normally due to criminal profiling in the country, which results in police brutality, sometimes leading to the murder of innocent young black men at the hands of police officers. The paper is founded on the argument that crimes have no race and there is no way all Blacks can be criminals. Black profiling needs to stop, such that they should all be treated as humans even when suspected of engaging in crime, just like Whites are treated.
Crimes is not Race Based, No Way all Blacks can be Criminals
The survival of a Black young man is highly endangered by an encounter with a police officer in the U.S. There have been too many cases of innocent Black youths gunned down by police officers even when not provoked or when unarmed. This has been a common phenomenon in the country, such that it is considered auspicious for a young Black man to report back home after being out for a whole day. According to statistics, Black men are about 2.5 times more probable to be murdered by police compared to white in their lifetime. The research also shows that Black individuals who were shot fatally by police were probably two times more likely to be unarmed compared to white people (Lynne, 2). This clearly shows that Black people suffer in the hands of police not because they are criminals or wrongdoers compared to others, but because they are black.
The perception of Blacks in the U.S. has highly been skewed by slavery. The majority of Americans have not managed to shift from how Black was perceived during slavery. They still consider them as “happy slaves” who can be subjected to anything as they endure. According to Evi (3), stereotypes are connected to systemic discrimination, prejudice, and biases. These are major aspects influencing employment opportunities, brutal treatment, education outcomes, and disproportional incarceration rates. Subjects a single community to so much economic, social and psychological pressure is highly likely to break them as this reduces opportunities (Evi, 3). Having reduced legal survival tactics, and when they manage to survive they are labeled as dangerous criminals, thugs, violent and dumb, as no one imaged they could survive the hardship they are subjected to, unless by illegal means.
Just like the police, the criminal justice system is pre-programmed while handling black cases. Unlike in other cases where the investigation is well done, Police seem to always pronounce a Black man guilty right after he appears in their sight. The same continues in the entire criminal justice system. The majority of Blacks have been through social, physical, or economic trauma due to life hardships. The criminal justice system takes advantage of this to identify motives and pin them down. A troubled childhood, school dropout, broken families, jailed parents, unemployment, and poverty associated with Blacks are used to connect the crime to them. Everyone in the criminal justice system sees crime as the only way of survival after experiencing such situations in life. This reduces their determination to seek the truth when they are handling black suspects. The Blacks’ physical appearance also aggravates the matter. Height and masculinity increase the chances of being labeled and prejudged (Neil, 5).
The media portrayal of a minority group has a profound effect on how such individuals are perceived by others in society. The negative portrayal of Black people by the media leaves a negative perception of this group in society. This plays a great role in propagating stereotyping among members of this community. The majority try to avoid them, and when they interact, they show some sense of fear or disassociated or dehumanization, sometimes to an extent of calling them names associated with the portrayed character (Felix, 4).
There could be a slight variation in the intensity of a character. However, it does not change based on the genre. For instance, a black man is portrayed to be violent, impatient, and ready to commit a crime for survival. In cartoons, they may appear as savage, chatty, and dump, in police procedures they are likely to be criminals, and in reality shows, they may be shown handling the abnormal level of life struggle. The negative character keeps on appearing even when framed in a different form or context. This makes it hard for viewers to see anything positive about the marginalized people (Felix, 4).
I have ever experienced an instance where a neighbor called 911 or the police for seeing a black young man near her home. The guy had done nothing and neither did he seem to be planning anything. However, he was roughed by police who were called secretly for being black and near the woman’s home. The woman had already labeled him as a thief or robber, and the police came with that in mind, not even considering the lady may be wrong as he had not done anything unusual.
Media has a great influence on people’s perception as it is highly consumed in the country. However, it cannot be trusted to change people’s perceptions of minority groups. This is because the media is in business and its main intention while publishing a story is to gain viewers. They therefore major in aspects that can earn them more money. If publishing a negative perception of a community, and stereotyping them is what sells, then they cannot do otherwise as their main intention is to make money. It would therefore be unwise to trust them with the role of changing people’s perception toward the minority as it may never be done.
Generally, people’s perception of others is mostly influenced by what they have ever heard about them from the media, family members, peers, or friends. This gives people a pre-judgment, making it hard to eliminate the initially created picture. The perception of Blacks as inferior humans since slavery makes it hard for others to treat them right even after their freedom. These perceptions have been strongly propagated by media through news, comedies, movies, and TV series among other shows. This has by far made it hard for Blacks to liberate themselves from prejudice, especially in the criminal justice system where police seem to act scared of them as they are considered ‘violent’ and hence ready to gun them down before they are harmed. This stereotyping has also somehow made the criminal justice system believe one way to fight crime in the country is removing the ‘nuisance aka black people in society. Such preprogrammed reactions should be addressed to ensure the Black community is given an equal chance in the country.