When we first hear about crime, we often assume that the assailant’s guild
However, more often than the prosecutors would like to admit, that is not the case. As a society, we find ourselves fearing things that we should not. For instance, African-Americans are among society’s list of imagined fears. Therefore, instead of focusing on “real” fears, Americans prefer dwelling on “imagined” fears. Thus, society spends more time trying to fix things that do not need to be fixed, and that sentiment stems from its inability to fix real concerns, choosing to attack the imaginary fears that are not the root of the problem.
This is particularly important in the way Americans associate African-Americans with a crime, often dehumanizing them as mere burglars and criminals. Likewise, mass media and legislators should not blame a race for the mistakes of a handful. If so, every single ethnicity in the country should be under scrutiny, nobody is free from guilt. However, the media and politicians have made it possible for the society to continue associating African-Americans with a crime, effectively associating African-Americans with a crime, affecting all Americans.
Therefore, thanks to media, politics, and the fears they place in our society, we do the African-American community an injustice by associating them with the crime. 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-biased hate crime incidents (Department). These crimes consisted of intimidation,
destruction/damage/vandalism, simple assault and aggravated assault. Moreover, 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, turning a biased assumption into action by profiling them and associating them with crimes.
On the other hand, by being the purveyor of news and watchable content, mass media has become an important part of this bias, making it possible for Americans to know what happens and where. Nevertheless, if the media vision is flawed, it will carry out said vision, planting biases in the Americans’ minds through e-mail, the internet, television, and newspapers. Hence, the media has made information easily obtainable to influence our society, providing news as seen through our eyes.
Likewise, mass media has an enormous influence on what we see in our news, and they sometimes do a disservice to communities by misrepresenting crimes in certain communities, showing some communities as less crime-ridden than others. If the media can make communities look worse than it is reported, this misleading information has the potential to put certain people under scrutiny for no valid reasons. It was found that African-Americans had highest percentages when it came to falling victim to violent crimes (Bureau). Everyone expects black criminals and victims, so their plight is not newsworthy.
For this reason, given the fact that statistically, those living in poverty are minorities living in rundown neighborhoods and tend to have higher crime rates rendering them susceptible to falling prey of victimization at much higher rates. Consequently, in recent studies, African-American men are number one on women’s list of fears, effectively isolating and profiling black men as a menace to society. Plus, mass media holds they have the right to report minorities in a bad light because surveys say that minority groups commit more crimes. Also, they argue they have the right to make the public aware of crime regardless the race (Update). Making African-Americans look as criminals.
Conversely, black victims fail to report their assaults, resulting in the belief that white people suffer from more assaults than its white counterparts. Hence, “… underreporting of black victims also has the effect of making white victims appear more ubiquitous than they are, thereby fueling whites’ fears of black criminals,” (Glassner 113). The Constitution states that all men are created equal. You would think that if this were the case, there would be less racial discrimination and tension among communities.
Politics has given people a chance to discriminate against African-Americans by passing laws and legislations that allow people to cross boundaries. In particular, police officers rights over racial profiling. Politicians feel that higher crime rates in the African-American community are high enough to increase the police presence, yet no documentations or reports by the Federal Justice Department suggest these communities have higher crime rates. However, it was found that African-Americans did fall prey to victimization at almost twice the rate as any other race (Department).
Although this is a reason big enough to increase police patrol, I believe this is more a wake-up call to have programs that influence problem communities to come together and stop crime in their neighborhoods. In 1968, the case of Terry versus Ohio stated that the “Supreme Court ruled that police are allowed to use so-called “stop-and-frisk” searches, as long as they have reasonable suspicion of crime or weapon possession,” (Key). However, the Supreme Court did not address the issue of race. For this reason, the stop-and-frisk searches have been criticized as a form of racial profiling. The term racial profiling is when,
“police interact with civilians, often by stopping, searching or questioning them, based on the perception that their race makes them more likely than other people to be engaged in criminal activity,” (Update).
Ultimately, racial profiling is a controversial issue because police officers are being accused of discriminating against African-Americans when it comes to deciding who committed a crime. Thus, when it comes to racial profiling, police focus more on appearance and less on suspicious behavior, which would make the most logical sense. Profiling individuals according to their race is not particularly accurate because police officers pursue innocent individuals, allowing the “real” criminals to escape. Still, some critics feel that “Police tend to conduct the most stops in high-crime areas, but only because African-American communities tend to be more problematic,” (Weitzer and Tuch 306). This means the high number of arrest among the Black community happens only because African-Americans are targeted more. However, both sides agree that police officers monitor African-American communities more than other communities. The racial profiling controversy has caused police departments to be subjected to excessive criticism over how they handle African-Americans.
Glassner, B. The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things: Crime, Drugs, Minorities, Teen Moms, Killer Kids, Mutant Microbes, Plane Crashes, Road Rage, & So Much More. Basic, 2010. Print.
Weitzer, R., and S.A. Tuch. “Race and Perceptions of Police Misconduct.” Social Problems 51.3 (2004): 305-25. University of Missouri. Web. 12 Dec. 2015.