“African American criminality became one of the most widely accepted bases for justifying prejudicial thinking, discriminatory treatment, and/or acceptance of racial violence as an instrument of public safety” (The Condemnation of Blackness Khalil Gibran Muhammad)
I often ponder with the idea that I have to constantly show one side of my personality to people who I feel comfortable with and have a lot in common with culturally and physically and the other side with a different group. This stems from having to acknowledge the negative stereotypes that comes with being an African America. But where did this negative connotation come form with the black community? Whenever a black man is walking in a neighborhood where he is not the norm, then he might have to encounter the police at some point questioning his presence in such an environment, and this is the sad truth. There is an overwhelming belief that African Americans are not successful, educated and we are all prone to violence and becoming criminals, however there are other factors that contribute to this argument whether there is evidence or not. The biggest issue with these beliefs is the link between race and crime, you could in fact have the same amount of crime being committed by another racial group but it still does not have the same effect. According to Khalil Muhammad, “to change the future of race relations- because crime itself was not a core issue. Rather, the problem was racial criminalization: the stigmatization of crime as “black” and the masking of crime among whites as individual failure. The practice of linking crime to blacks, as a racial group, but not whites, reinforced and reproduced racial inequality”.
This makes me think, and should make everyone who feels as if there is not a problem think too. If I thought about the many times where my friends and I have been walking around campus minding our business at night, and people are visible uncomfortable walking by us, as if we are up to no good or we are going to do something to them. Every time I have this discussion questioning these stereotypes and its historical background, I always get the response of “I am colorblind” and “it has nothing to with race” but “it is shown that there are a lot of African Americans who have been arrested or is involved with criminal activities”. It is very common to hear people coin the term “colorblind” when asked about racial injustices and discrimination of a certain ethnic group. This may be viewed as an innocent comment that does not mean any harm, however, for African Americans and other minority groups it can be very challenging. Here is why, when a person response to racial inequality as “I am colorblind, I don’t see color” it neglects the constant battle that African Americans have been facing since the establishment of the United States. This is seen as another way of not dealing with/addressing the issues at hand, which is further creating a bigger problem, when the problem is being constantly brushed under the rug.
Looking from a historical point of view Khalil mentions, “how did European immigrants, the Irish and the Italians and the Polish, for example- gradually shed their criminal identities while blacks did not? In other words, how did criminality go from plural to singular?”. This very important to note because this idea is still alive in 2016. It may not be explicitly said that African Americans are prone to crime and violence but the implication is there. The thing that bothers me the most about this is the argument that most people make claiming that people are genetically predisposed to committing violent crimes, which is an ancient stereotype that has lived on for years. According to the excerpt from The Condemnation of Blackness, “but where the “negro factor” is concerned, Henderson continued, “racial inheritance, physical and mental inferiority, barbarian and slave ancestry and culture”. Because of these existing stereotypes, claiming to be colorblind in the hight of racial inequality and tensions, negate the importance of having conversations about these things and addressing them, but more importantly, having political figures reinstate this rhetoric and stereotypes for the younger generation is detrimental to having the progress that is needed to understanding the severity of racial inequality.