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Racial Profiling 101 | “Black-on-Black” crime | Select passages from: “A Call for a new anti-war Movement” | By Kevin Alexander Gray

How to Legalize Drugs

Published in How to Legalize Drugs – Jefferson M. Fish (Editor), 1998 | reprinted in Waiting for Lightning to Strike:The Fundamentals of Black Politics, 2008

 

| “Black-on-Black” Crime ~  

… The targets of the war are [also] seduced into believing the negative things said or written about them.  This makes easier their surrender to the war against them.  Slogans, such as “black-on-black crime,” when used by black leaders, insinuate that black inter-racial crime is more insidious than black intra-racial crime.  It implies that black criminals should spare their brothers (that is, a criminal should choose their victims on the basis of race).  In contrast, crimes committed by whites against other whites are seldom referred to as “white on white crimes.”  It is commonly known that whites commit crimes against other whites, and blacks commit crimes against other blacks, at roughly the same rate of occurrence.  Most crimes are neighborhood crimes.  Moreover, victims and perpetrators are generally known to one another.  To categorize neighborhood crime as differing racially is an attempt to portray black crime as more insidious and violent.  Furthermore, the notion of the black perpetrator preying on whites is not only unfounded, but, it is deliberately used to stir the fears and passions of whites.  Political scientists James Lynch and William Sabol assert that the black underclass poses less of a threat to whites than the white underclass because it (the black underclass) is segregated residentially and therefore is less proximate to the working and middle classes than is the white underclass.   Many black politicians and community leaders have been manipulated or seduced into adopting racist arguments and stereotypes that support the lie that blacks are more violent than whites.  The back sliding by black elite leadership has taken place partly because many white liberals have changed their positions and beliefs about social justice.  Liberalism was in vogue during the sixties and seventies.  At that time, there was a greater willingness on the part of white officials to look at the causes of crime.  Liberalism involved believing that doing something about the human condition was part of the solution.  Today, it seems that liberals have apparently abandoned this mode of thinking to one of inherent racial pathologies.  Taking their cues from the white liberals, along with a lack of consistent focus on cause, often puts black leadership at odds with itself.  Case in point — calling drug laws’ racist but telling kids “to turn those suspected of dealing into the authorities.”  Such a request is fraught with obvious contradictions.  It says that although the system is unjust, there are some who are unworthy of justice. Black leadership has been unable to find a cogent vision, language and message to strike at dispossession created by white supremacy.  So they have followed the liberal lead and capitulated to the dominant [conservative] ideology of the time.  Consequently, some often promote the vision, language and message of the forces that historically have been arrayed against them.  The promotion of a majoritarian ideology can be conscious or inadvertent.  Still, the consequence of such promotion generally impacts on the poor and dispossessed in a negative way.   In 1994, civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, made what seems to be an inadvertent “off the record” comment that was widely reported during the crime debates.  The comment was indicative of the dehumanization, promotion of the dominant ideology and lapse in focus on the central problem of dispossession.  Jackson stated, “There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery and then see somebody white and feel relieved.”

Waiting for Lightning to Strike: The Fundamentals of Black Politics

Jackson, who has traditionally criticized stereotypical characterizations, provided succor to those harboring racist attitudes and beliefs.  Perhaps it was “painful” to Jackson because he realized that he too had been seduced by the stereotypes of war.  Regardless of the reason, the message in effect tells whites that he can understand and does not blame whites for being racist because he is relieved that the person walking behind him is not black!  This suggests that any white person is justified for fearing black people.  There are those who insist that we cannot fault Jackson for his fear of the stranger behind because it is not unreasonable for people to make a risk assessment for the likelihood of being victimized by crime.  However, Jackson’s comments were made in the context of the crime debate.  Several things come to mind when one considers Jackson’s public pronouncement of fear.  Jackson often mentions the 319 death threats he received during his bids for the presidency.   It would be revealing to know the number of blacks issuing threats.  The answer would no doubt prove his fear misplaced.  Jackson is a public figure.  His comments were made in the middle of a policy debate and it can be assumed that he was addressing public policy.  His comments were supportive of policies that result in discriminatory treatment for those other than “somebody white.”  Curfews, random searches and other such policies, are often justified by the use of such statements.  Thus, there appeared to be no risk assessment of personal danger, only a political assessment.  The comment helped Jackson remain politically visible by not appearing soft on crime and provided him with “credibility” in the prevailing conservative political order.   This example is offered because while Jackson is not the only black leader with a conservative tone on crime, he is just the most well known.  Consequently, Jackson’s comments give conservatives and would-be moralists such as William Bennett and Patrick Buchanan, a place to hide on the issues of racism, crime, poverty and dispossession.

In fairness to Jackson, as the consequences and pressures on the black community due to the drug war  increased, he sought to mobilize the black church community around the increased incarceration rate.  Jackson  encouraged ministers to set up bail funds for non-violent drug offenders as well as church-based mentoring programs.  He also criticized the government’s focus on the building of prison at a rate twice that of public housing or school construction.  Jackson also condemned the sentencing disparity and, was openly critical black ministers’ support of the 1994 Crime Bill with its 62 death penalty provisions…

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White-on-White Crime: It Goes Against the False Media Narrativehttp://www.theroot.com/views/why-don-t-we-talk-about-white-white-crime

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[1].James P. Lynch and William J. Sabol, “The Use of Coercive Social Control and Changes in the Race and Class Composition of U.S. Prison Population,” paper presented at the meeting of the American Society of Criminology, Miami, Florida, November 9,1994: p.23.

[2].Howard Fineman, “An Older, Grimmer Jesse,” Newsweek, Vol. 123, Issue 2, January 10, 1994: p.24.

[3].Roger D. Hatch, Beyond Opportunity: Jesse Jackson’s Vision for America (Philadelphia: Fortress Press) 1988: p. 109.

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Racial Profiling 101 | Select passages from: “A Call for a new anti-war Movement” | By Kevin Alexander Gray

How to Legalize Drugs

Published in How to Legalize Drugs – Jefferson M. Fish (Editor), 1998 | reprinted in Waiting for Lightning to Strike:The Fundamentals of Black Politics, 2008

|Profiling 101 | i.e. “the war on drugs” (or ‘on blacks’ – whichever you prefer) – once the word “drug” or “drug-related” (or “gang-related” or “thug”) is uttered in policing, public discourse (to include media) – the person whom its applied is presumed “to have no rights that any man (or law) is bound to respect.”

“… The racists, that are usually very influential in the society, don’t make their move without first going to get public opinion on their side.  So they use the press to get public opinion on their side.  When they want to suppress and oppress the Black community, what do they do?  They take the statistics, and through the press, they feed them to the public.  They make it appear that the role of crime in the Black community is higher than it is anywhere else.

What does this do?  This message ‑‑ this is a skillful message used by racists to make the whites who aren’t racist think that the rate of crime in the Black community is so high.  This keeps the Black community in the image of a criminal.  It makes it appear that anyone in the Black community is a criminal.  And as soon as this impression is given, then it makes it possible, or paves the way to set up a police‑type state in the Black community, getting the full approval of the white public when the police , use all kinds of brutal measures to suppress Black people, crush their skulls, sic dogs on them, and things of that type.  And the whites go along with it.  Because they think that everybody over there’s a criminal anyway…”

 Malcolm X

The “war on drugs” particularly affects how children are viewed, valued and treated by society.  The perception created by the war is that youth are abnormally violent.  The dehumanizing portrayal of the current  youth subculture as being more violent than past generations has resulted in a corresponding erosion of the rights of minors.  Warrantless searches of lockers, drug sniffing dogs and urine testing for athletes have become commonplace in the public schools.  Many state and federal laws now allow minors as young as thirteen to be tried as adults.  Punishment is one of the few areas that society grants minors equal (or more) value to adults.  Ordinarily, minors do not receive the same rights’ protections, or value, as adults.  It might be assumed that since many in the black community have a child, relative or friend under some type of penal supervision, they would eschew any attempts at dehumanization.  However, it seems that tacit acceptance of the portrayal of youth as abnormally violent has taken place.  Since the fear of youth is promoted, solving the drug abuse problem takes a back seat to control and containment.  This promotion of fear gives irresponsible adults an escape from facing their responsibility for the problem of so-called incorrigible youth.  Instead of dealing with the problems of youth one often hears stereotyping comments such as, “If you look at them [youth] hard they will cuss you out or shoot you.”   Fear also creates irresponsible parents.  Fear lowers resistance to dehumanization and parental responsibility is surrendered to the state.  The surrender takes the form of more police with an over-abundance of power, the proliferation of  boot camps, regressive “youth-oriented” legislation such as curfew and noise ordinances, and schools that are more reminiscent of penal facilities than educational institutions.  Consequently, lack of parental responsibility coupled with the increased reliance on control and containment has caused children to become resentful and lose respect for adults and institutions, especially in the face of the erosion and disrespect for their equal protection and due process rights.  Worse, there is a diminution in value that the child places on all life.  These are the dynamics that make for a more violent society.”

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Waiting for Lightning to Strike:The Fundamentals of Black Politics

You cannot have war without an enemy.  The first act of the drug warriors was to claim that they were  protecting citizens from an evil enemy.  After identifying the enemy, war supporters peppered the air with cries of national unity and war metaphors.  The metaphors helped create a militaristic environment.  Criminologists’ Peter B. Kraska and Victor E. Kappeler write:

Metaphors play a central role in the construction of and reaction to social problems: they act to organize our thoughts, shape our discourse, and clarify our values (Ibarra and Kitsuse 1993; Spector and Kitsuse 1987).  Sociologists have documented the spread of the medical metaphor — defining social problems as “illnesses” to be treated by medical professionals — as an important trend in twentieth-century social control (Conrad and Schneider 1992; Conrad 1992)…  The ideological filter encased within the war metaphor is “militarism,” defined as a set of beliefs and values that stress the use of force and domination as appropriate means to solve problems and gain political power, while glorifying the tools to accomplish this — military power, hardware, and technology (Berghahn 1982; Eide and Thee 1980; Kraska 1993).

When the enemy is a targeted group of people, they face immediate dehumanization.  Martin Luther King, Jr. often referred to dehumanization as “thingification.”  Public acceptance of the growing incarceration rate is due in large part to the continuing thingification of blacks.  Rather than picturing the black and Latino fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters that are being jailed, politicians and demagogues dismiss them as criminals — the “enemy.”   The obvious consequence of dehumanization is an erosion of respect for human rights and the constitutional protection of those rights.  

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Dehumanization has a variety of elements, nonetheless, in the drug war racism is the most obvious element.  The war’s propaganda re-enforces the notion that the enemy possesses an inherent or genetic predisposition to violence.  This validates disproportionate state action and control.   As long as the object of scorn has no humanity, they are not worthy of justice or even life.  During World War II, the Japanese were labeled “Japs” and assigned a variety of stereotypes.  This made the decision to drop atomic bombs on them seem somewhat less barbaric.  During the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese became “Charlie” or “gooks,” which partly explains why the United States could not envision losing a war to a group of ‘pajama clad commies.”  When Africans were enslaved for their labor and North American aborigines were exterminated for land, they were respectively referred to as “dumb savages” and “noble savages.”  In the war, black men labeled are “predatory,” in an attempt to reinforce dehumanization.  Labeling black youth as “predatory” arose from attacks against foreign tourists in Florida in the early nineties.  It was also used to describe incorrigible youth in New York City (along with the term “wilding”).  In 1993, during the heat of the crime debate, news programs, such as NBC’s Meet the Press, revived and popularized the D.W. Griffith  Birth of a Nation stereotype of the black male “predator.”   Needless to say, all crimes are predatory in nature.  Milwaukee serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer was surely predatory, however, he was not a black or a teen when he committed his crimes.  Furthermore, neither Dahmer or Colin Ferguson –the Long Island Train killer, had any arrests prior to their murderous acts.  To apply the term “predatory” on the basis of age reinforces the perception of the youthful offender being more violent than the adult offenders.  To add race simply implies that black youth offenders are more violent than all others.

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The drug warriors target the “enemy”  by use of a “profile.”  The profile allows police to make cursory assumptions as to whom they suspect is apt to engage in criminal activities.  How one “fits the profile” can depend on a number of things.  It can be something as obvious as gender, race and age.  It can be the area one drives through or lives.  It can be the time of day that one drives down a highway or the fact that one drives on a certain  road at all.  Profiling encompasses one’s car and its “gold” accessories.  Those driving with tinted car windows, any type of neon lights and, chopped or hydraulic suspensions are always suspect.  It can be a haircut — dreads locks (hairstyle associated with Rastifarians) mean reefer smoker.  A style of dress — baggy pants and oversized jacket mean gangbanger.  In addition, “colors” are a dead give-away.  It can be “eye balling” a police officer or, looking away.   It can be traveling with a crowd or traveling alone.  Profiling can entail anything, everything and nothing.  The most often used profile is that of being a young black and there is an increase in the number of these “profiled” individuals from targeted areas going to jail.  To this extent, the drug warriors’ battle plan is a success…. 

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