To Discuss The Perception of Black Male Criminality, One Must Discuss the Perception of Black Male Sexuality
If you haven’t read Tom Schade’s posts over the last week, I think you should (especially the modest proposal). This past Sunday, Tom pointed to an article written by John McWhorter in “The New Republic” which talks about the presumption—held by many non-blacks—that many (if not most) black men are criminals.
John McWhorter’s comments are good, as were the President’s, but they didn’t go far enough because they stopped short of going to part of the root of the problem.
Almost from the time the first Africans set foot on colonial soil in 1619, law, as it related to those of African descent has been about mainly one thing…controlling black sexuality (both male and female). Yes, most of the laws regarding those of African descent were miscegenation (or, more technically, anti-miscegenation) laws. To ignore this makes having the conversation about black “criminality” incomplete.
After Reconstruction, black codes were established to regulate every area of black life and the peonage system made sure that black men (and a number of black women) were imprisoned for any real or imagined infraction. (if interested in learning more about peonage read Slavery By Another Name )
Now, in the “post civil-rights” era, drug laws have taken the place of black codes and anti-miscegenation laws.
So to look at black male “criminality” without looking at how it all started by trying to control black male sexuality misses a major part of the equation.
(all of this affects black women as well, it just manifests itself in different ways)