Black Demons: The Media's Depiction of the African American Male Criminal Stereotype

By Dennis Rome | Go to book overview
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4

Bad Boys: Cop-U-Dramas and Other Crime Reality-Based Television Programs

“Reality” police television programs, which showcase black criminals front and center, are another throwback. For instance, on the shows COPS, Final Justice, and Highway Patrol, black suspects are commonly videotaped cursing at law-enforcement officials and otherwise disrespecting the law. The poor, homeless, drug-addicted, mentally unstable, and hardened criminals are lumped together as black crime threats. Shows such as these make it hard to believe that black criminals represent a tiny fraction of the overall black population.1

In October 1989, Charles Stuart, a white, affluent Boston fur salesman claimed that he had been shot and his wife and unborn child had been murdered by an African American male assailant in Mission Hill, a predominantly African American neighborhood. 2 The media portrayed the couple as “starryeyed lovers out of Camelot cut down by an urban savage.” 3 On the other hand, the Mission Hill area was portrayed to the public as “a community run wild with animalistic people.” 4

Mission Hill became occupied territory as Mayor Ray Flynn assigned more police there than had ever been assigned to any Boston community. Hundreds of young African American men were stopped and searched indiscriminately. Public officials called for the reinstatement of the death penalty. Within weeks after the crime, an African American male was apprehended

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