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Black Criminal Stereotypes and Racial Profiling

NCJ Number
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice Volume: 23 Issue: 3 Dated: August 2007 Pages: 276-288
Kelly Welch
Date Published
August 2007
13 pages
This article details the theoretical elements contributing to the development of African-American criminal typification to understand how this has been used to justify racial profiling.
The current recognizability of the image of a young African-American criminal has been the result of various representations of crime. Contributions to this relationship that many identify between African-Americans and criminality include actual involvement in crime; especially crack cocaine violations and violent offenses. African-Americans do account for a disproportionate amount of crime arrests and are disproportionately convicted and incarcerated. However, public estimates of African-American criminality surpass the reality. The media perpetuate ideas linking race with criminality, which have also been reinforced by political agendas. All of these phenomena have served to solidify the stereotype of the young African-American man as a criminal threat among the public in contemporary American society, thereby fueling the practice of racial profiling by criminal justice officials. This also seems to justify law enforcement tactics that exploit race in criminal investigations. The racial stereotyping of criminals has been an enduring and unfortunate feature of American culture. This common stereotype has erroneously served as a subtle rationale for the unofficial policy and practice of racial profiling. This article evaluates the various factors contributing to the criminal stereotyping of African-Americans because this perception has provided justification of sorts for racial profiling by law enforcement and officials in other criminal justice institutions. References