Stop Normalizing Black-Crime Association

Something that has especially stuck out to me over the past few weeks has been the ideas presented in an article we read by Jennifer L. Eberhardt on ?Enduring Racial Associations African Americans, Crime, and Animal Imagery?. Within this article, she discusses the stereotypes associated with Black people in relation to crime. She also discusses how there are many factors that influence this, such as the stereotype of blacks as being hostile, dangerous, or criminals, which according to her, is one of the strongest stereotypes associated with the black community in America. She states “Black males are grossly overrepresented in prisons and in jails relative to the population. And such disparities have not escaped the popular press; they appear repeatedly in news reports throughout the nation. So we have stereotypic beliefs and we have intense racial satisfaction working together to support and strengthen the association between blacks and crime” (Eberhardt, 2010). She also mentions that in relation to these factors, there have been studies done to explore why this black-crime association might be, and why this might be important. White participants were presented with images of faces of either an individual of color or white individual. They were then shown a blurry image of an object. Results showed that white participants were more hesitant in naming the object associated with the white individual and were quick to name the blurry object as a weapon when associated with the individual of color. This suggested that when individuals see black faces or think “black people,” they automatically think “crime.”

In one experiment, subjects were subliminally shown black or white faces, then asked to identify a blurry image as it came into focus over 41 frames. On average, participants primed with black faces could identify a weapon nine frames sooner (middle-left) than those primed with white faces could (middle-right). (Photo: Stanford Magazine)

Reading these results were quite unsettling. I found myself questioning why this might be? Why are we so quick to assume that an innocent black person is guilty of committing some sort of crime? I believe that these associations are essentially what is allowing for the continuation of hurt and despair to occur within the black community. The hundreds of names of innocent black individuals who have been wrongfully brutalized and killed by white police officers are the harmful result of excessive amounts of racial profiling that has been occurring in our society for hundreds of years. In a podcast I listened to, I was struck by the words of an activist interviewed who was a woman of color. From the sounds of it, she was being interviewed during a protest. You could hear the anger and rage in her voice as she aggressively yelled to white police officers “you have had your chance to police our community without murdering us and you’ve failed us for over 300 years. We’re not evolving as a civilization, we’re devolving back to 1969.” Hearing those words was so eye-opening to me. It boggles my mind that these cries have gone unheard and have been ignored by authoritative figures for so long. How is it that the people who are supposed to be protecting us the most have been causing the most damage? How can we reverse this system before more of its citizens fall?

2 thoughts on “Stop Normalizing Black-Crime Association”

  1. I think the reason police officers have been able to get away with the crimes they’ve gotten away with is due to the fact that the people in charge of these trainings have these exact biases. There’s needs to be some kind of anti-racist training on all levels, not just with police officers. After all why would police officers think twice about shooting a Black or Brown person when they know that their supervisors agree with them?

  2. Brittany, I think this is because cops receive very poor training when its comes to racism and racial profiling. However, I do recognize that it takes more than just a training course to unlearn biases and prejudices that a person might have. But I think if cops received ADEQUATE training on racial profiling, the history of racism, etc., they’d be better equipped to handle certain situations.

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