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ANALYZING CRIME IN BLACK COMMUNITIES

Analyzing Crime in Black Communities


Sydney Kirkland
Hampton University
English 102-13
Professor MacDonald
April 1, 2016

Abstract

ANALYZING BLACK CRIMES IN COMMUNITIES

This is a research paper based off findings of crime in the black community. The
introduction of the paper talks about the history of slavery, mistreatment of blacks by
white people, and the struggle of being black in the United States. These early
beginnings have a huge impact on the lives of blacks today. The paper begins by defining
the meaning of crime. Secondly, the paper analyzes how the judicial system treats blacks
that commit crimes in comparison to how the judicial system treats their white
counterparts. It explains their likely punishment when they are convicted of crimes in
comparison to white people who commit the same crimes. The paper also goes into
detail on where crimes in the black community are mostly committed. Lastly, this
research paper reveals why some people believe crimes occur in the community. The
bulk of this paper is based off secondary research sources. However, this research paper
also includes a survey entitled Crimes In the Black Community Survey that will be used
as a primary research source. Eleven individuals, 7 females and 4 males, have taken it.
Among the individuals who have participated in the survey, one is between the ages of
15-18; six are between the ages of 18-15; one is between the ages of 25-30; and three are
age 30 and older.

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Since the time that people of African descent have settled in present-day United
States for purposes of forced labor, people have had a negative connotation of the group
as a whole. Because of some of the differences in the biological makeup between people
of African descent and people of European descent, whites have deemed themselves as a
group that is more intellectual and superior to blacks among other things. The degrading
things that they have justified the whites done to blacks such as rapes, beatings, and
murders through the name of God. Therefore, implying that God some how favors
whites over blacks. Even with the ending of slavery, which came hundreds of years later,
this idea of racial superiority continues to exist. For example, an idea put in place by the
Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court case led to an idea called separate but equal in which
blacks and whites were suppose to be granted the same things but separate from one
another. For example, blacks and whites both had restrooms to use; however, on the door
read things such as For Coloreds Only or For Whites Only. Continuing through
history, figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Bayard Rustin
begin to gain recognition during the Civil Rights period for standing up against the
mistreatment of society towards blacks on various issues. With persistence, blacks have
been able to achieve voting rights, been able to use the same facilities that whites were
granted, and integration of schools among other things. After more than 150 years since
the ending of slavery, the first black man, President Barack Obama, makes his way to the
White House. With this huge milestone in the history of African Americans came a belief
that Martin Luther King Jr.s vision in his I Have a Dream speech was starting to
become reality. There was a belief that the previously stated equality would actually
fulfill the true meaning of equality. Blacks and whites would no longer be seen primarily

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by their skin color regarding intellectual capabilities and treatment, but they would be
judged by their actions. This dream was short-lived. With it being 2016, it is sad to say
that things such as Black Lives Matter have to be said, as police brutality, which was a
problem decades ago, is still a problem today. Blacks continue to become victims of
racial profiling as cases such as Trayvon Martin and Tamir Rice make national headlines.
People of African descent are still seen in a negative light. It is interesting to note that
with blacks making up only 13% of the United States they are among the largest group of
incarcerated individuals making up about 40% of jails. With statistics like this, it should
make one wonder how is this even possible? Everyone who completed the Crimes in the
Black Community Survey agreed that the history of blacks during slavery correlates to
the treatment of blacks today. My analysis of black crimes in heavily populated black
urban and suburban areas will consist of research of the following questions:
1. What is crime?
2. How are crimes in major black communities handled? Are blacks often punished,
or do they often get away?
3. Do a majority of crimes occur in heavily populate urban or suburban areas?
4. What are the reasons for many of the crimes committed in heavily black
populated areas?
While black people inhabit jail cells in a large percentage, these numbers are due to the
continued unequal treatment among blacks and whites especially in urban communities.
What is Crime?
One of the first questions that one must inquire upon is the definition of crime.
What activity allows one to become locked away in a jail cell for at a minimum a couple
hours to as long as life? Who determines what actions are punishable by things such as
solitary confinement or the death sentence? According to the Criminal Law: Free Advice

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Legal website, crime can be defined as any act or omission that violates a law which
results in a punishment (Free Advice Staff, 2016). These crimes can result in
punishments, as stated earlier, small fines or death. Punishment is usually given
depending on the severity of the crime. For example, breaking the law for doing 5 miles
per hour over the speed limit will result in a fine that one is required to pay. Murdering 5
individuals may result in one losing ones life. In the Crimes in the Black Community
Survey, many people answered this question by saying that crime is illegal activity, but
only one person said it depends on the law. According to the Criminal Law article,
specific acts or omissions constitute crimes [depending] on the governmental bodies
where [one] lives (Free Advice Staff, 2016). If one lives in the United States, it is likely
that one may be subject to three sets of laws. These sets of laws are put in place by the
federal, state, and local governments. Federal laws deal with crimes at a much larger
standpoint for example the country as a whole. The state government deals with crimes
according to which state one lives in. Lastly, the local government deals with crimes
according to the citys rules. It is possible that laws at the federal, state, and local
governments may conflict with one another. One example is the marijuana case. In
California, which affects the state as well as the local governments depending on the city
that one resides in, marijuana is legal; however, from a federal standpoint, marijuana is
illegal. Conflicts in laws such as this may cause confusion as to what may be acceptable
or not. Continuing on, Criminal Law adds in that most crimes require that [one]
completes an affirmative act before [one] can be punished for the conduct (Free Advice
Staff, 2016). An example of an affirmative act would be if one were to place drugs in
ones pocket. Because one willingly put the illegal substance in ones pocket, one will

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face the consequences of being in possession of the drugs. Crimes can also be punished
for omission, or choosing not to act upon something (Free Advice Staff, 2016). For
example, if one watches child abuse but does not act upon it, one will be charged for
failing to report child abuse. Just as crimes can be punished due to intentions, it is not
always that crimes are committed with intent. Crimes can involve negligent intent (Free
Advice Staff, 2016). For example, most people speed because they are zoned out and are
not constantly checking the speedometer. Regardless, one is still required to pay the fines
associated with speeding. Because crimes can vary from city-to-city, state-to-state, and
country-to-country, it is best to look up the area of residence to avoid committing
unnecessary crimes in an area.
How are Crimes in Black Communities Handled? Are They Often Punished,
or Do They Often Get Away?
In various sources of media, it is understood that white criminals, in this case,
people who commit any crimes, are treated better than black criminals. Huffington Post
wrote an article entitled Black Crime Rates: What Happens When Numbers arent
neutral. This article analyzes why there are so many black people incarcerated; yet, they
do not even make up a quarter of the populations. One of their reasonings states that If
a black person and a white person each commit a crime, the black person is more likely to
be arrested (Farbota, 2015). They explain this reasoning by stating, This is due in part
to the fact that black people are more heavily policed (Farbota 2015). In general, black
people tend to reside in heavily populated urban areas, which are heavily policed. White
people are known, in general, to live in suburban or rural areas where people are more
spread out. If one thinks of major cities such as Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia, this

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reasoning makes sense. Major police departments are always on lookout in major cities
because of the high crime rates associated with urban areas. One example the newspaper
talks about is the fact that black and whites alike use marijuana at similar rates; however,
black people may be four times as likely to get caught with the illegal substance. This
example may be due to racial profiling and searching a black man illegally because the
police officer thinks her looks like a drug dealer or somebody that would use the
substance. The newspaper article continues with their findings by stating when black
people are arrested for a crime, they are convicted more than white people arrested for the
same crime (Farbota, 2015). This finding can be due to the separation of wealth
between whites and blacks. A black person may not be able to afford a decent lawyer to
help him beat a case like a white person thus leading to his plead as guilty for the same
crime committed by a white person. Lastly, the Huffington reports, When black people
are convicted of a crime, they are more likely to be sentenced to incarceration compared
to whites convicted of the same crime (Farbota, 2015). Judges often have, at their own
discretion, the privilege of allowing a convicted person to be incarcerated or receiving a
lesser punishment, which may includes probation, community service, or fines. Things
such as poverty, geography, education, and career all play a huge role in whether blacks
will be severely punished or let go with a lesser punishment, according to Huffington
Post. In the survey, all of the people surveyed thought that about 25% of white people
are let usually let go as opposed to blacks that committed the same crimes.
Do a Majority of Crimes Committed By Blacks Occur in Heavily Populated
Black Suburban Area or Urban Areas?

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Brookings, an online news article, conducted a research entitled City and


Suburban Crime Trends in Metropolitan America. In their findings, they state city crime
rates remain high than suburban levels (Kneebone and
Raphael, 2011). When comparing the crime rate of
black communities such as Baltimore, Maryland, a
major metropolitan city, and Bowie, Maryland, an
Figure 1: Property Crime
rates between the Metro
Area, Primary City, and
Suburb

affluent heavily populated black suburb, the previous


finding remains true. According to Sperlings Best

Place, which is a website which shows various demographics regarding different places
around the world, the violent crime and property crime remains higher in Baltimore than
in Bowie. With the violent crime and property crime (recorded in percentages) in Bowie
and Baltimore being 43.4, 36.1 and 91.4, 59
respectively (Sperlings, 2014). However, referring back
to the Huffington Post, black neighborhood crimes still
outnumber the crimes in white neighborhoods (Farbota,
Figure 2: Violent Crimes rates
between Metro Area, Primary
City, and Suburb

2015). In the survey, about 28% of the people believed


that black crimes were committed in urban areas. The

remaining 27% of people thought that there was no correlation between urban and
suburban areas as they relate to black crimes.
What Are Some of the Reasons People Believe Black Crimes are Committed?
In a shortened interview by Fox News between Russell Simmons, a music mogul,
and Bill OReilly, a TV host, black crime is discussed and can be viewed on YouTube.
The interview was focused on the topic of blacks and police brutality. However, the

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interview quickly shifted directions and the two discussed the reasons why they believed
black crime in communities exist. OReilly explained to Simmons that he believes that
the strife of poor blacks and the police is driven by black crime (Secular Talk, 2014).
Meanwhile, Simmons disagreed. OReilly also explained that the crimes committed by
black young black men drives suspicion of the police (Secular Talk, 2014). Simmons
expressed that a large problem of crime in the black community and that most of the
black people who become incarcerated for non-violent crimes is due to the war on
drugs (Secular Talk, 2014). However, OReilly believes that crimes in black
communities occur because of other reasons such as the dissolution of the families,
fatherless children, and drug gangs (Secular Talk, 2014). The creator of the YouTube
video of the interview between Russell Simmons and Bill OReilly also included his
input on why he believed black crime occurred in black communities. His reasoning for
black crimes are as follows: systemic economic disenfranchisement, poverty, war on
drugs (Secular Talk, 2014). Despite the three of them not having entirely equal answers,
both Simmons and the author believe that war on drugs is a huge problem in the black
community. In the survey, various beliefs about the reasons for black crimes in
communities differed too. About 27% voted for war on drugs, another 27% said that
poverty was a major reason for black crimes, 9% pointed toward fatherless children as a
major reason for black crimes, and 37% believed systematic disenfranchisement led to
black crimes in communities.
Conclusion

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The deciphering of a crime varies from city-to-city and state-to-state. In order to


familiarize oneself with various crimes, it is best to do research based off ones location.
Punishment of crimes differs also depending on the location. There are three different
legal systems that the United States follows, federal, local, and statewide. Sometimes
these laws can conflict with each other. Compared to the crimes committed by their
white counterparts, blacks are not let go with a warning as frequently as whites after a
law is broken. Most blacks, in general, receive a more harsh punishment for the same
crime convicted by whites. Blacks are also more likely to be incarcerated while whites
are let off with a fine, community service, or probation upon the discretion of the judge.
Black crimes happen more frequently in black communities in urban areas than in black
communities in the suburbs. This has been noted because blacks in the suburbs have
more money, and therefore, do not need to engage in illegal activities to make ends meet
like blacks in poorer urban areas. Crimes in the black community can be a source of
numerous reasons but poverty and war on drugs seem to be a major motivating force for
many crimes. Who knew that the bringing of slaves to the New World would have an
impact on the people of African descent forever? Institutionalized racism is a concept
that has yet to go away. Though blacks have gained a few rights today since their early
existence in this country, equality is still a concept that is yet to exist among whites and
blacks alike. Racial profiling and police discrimination are still things that are
encountered today and have had a major impact on the black community.
References
"City Crime Rankings: Crime in Metropolitan America." Choice Reviews Online 32.11
(1995): n. pag. Web.

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"Compare Cities." Comparison: Crime Baltimore, MD. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2016.
Farbota, Kim. "Black Crime Rates: What Happens When Numbers Aren't Neutral." The
Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2016.
Farbota, Kim. "Black Crime Rates: What Happens When Numbers Aren't Neutral." The
Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2016.
"Sally Kohn: 'White Men Account for 69 Percent of Those Arrested for Violent Crimes'"
Politifact. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2016.
"Sally Kohn: 'White Men Account for 69 Percent of Those Arrested for Violent Crimes'"
Politifact. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Apr. 2016.
SecularTalk. "Russell Simmons & O'Reilly Debate Black Crime." YouTube. YouTube, 11
Dec. 2014. Web. 01 Apr. 2016
www.surveymonkey.com/r/JB9