Academic journal article African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies : AJCJS

Editorial: Race-Class-Gender Articulation and Crime in the US

Academic journal article African Journal of Criminology and Justice Studies : AJCJS

Editorial: Race-Class-Gender Articulation and Crime in the US

Article excerpt

'...we can assume that with lawful work available for young men in the drug trade, crime in many communities would drop; that as a consequence more employers would locate businesses in these neighborhoods and a self-sustaining economy would begin to take root; and that over the course of ten or fifteen years norms would begin to change, young men and women would begin to imagine a future for themselves, marriage rates would rise, and children would have a more stable world in which to grow up....What would that be worth to all of us - an America in which crime has fallen, more children are cared for, cities are reborn, and the biases, fear, and discord that black poverty feeds are slowly drained away? Would it be worth what we've spent in the past year in Iraq?...It's hard to quantify the benefits of such changes-precisely because the benefits would be immeasurable.' (Barack Obama, 2007: 259)

Introduction

In Black Marxism, Cedric Robinson (1983) presented evidence that the concept of race was first developed internally in Europe for the purpose of identifying different groups of Europeans before the concept was extended to Africans as a result of the Trans Atlantic slavery. Similar evidence is found in Black Women and the Criminal Justice System (Agozino, 1997) where I argued that the poor were seen to belong to a different race and so transportation of poor people to the colonies from Europe was designed to prevent their 'inferior races' from cross- breeding with the 'master race'. The atavistic stigmata of Cesare Lombroso were racial stereotypes of the 'dark' Sicilians who were being conquered by the Italian army at a time that Lombroso was a military surgeon (Melossi, 2000). It was also common back then to refer to national populations as different races such as Germanic races, the Anglo Saxon race, the Irish race, etc. Karl Marx (1868) debunked such foolishness by repeatedly referring to the 'human race' in Das Kapital as an indication that the struggle against racism is a human problem facing the whole of humanity and not the exclusive responsibility of the so-called minorities.

The introductory background to this editorial will draw heavily from the valuable review of race and crime in the US by Gabbidon and Greene (2005) because the authors took their readers through a history of the term "race" which started as a biological construct from the past and they demonstrated how social scientists have since refined it as a social construction based on arbitrary classification of groups with certain features that are considered important by those doing the classifications. The authors refer to recent DNA evidence that human beings are remarkably identical in biological terms, lending support to archeological evidence that all human beings originated from Africa and migrated from there to populate the world at various points in time. They reproduced a US News and World Report of June 23 2003 which suggests that DNA can now help police to trace ancestry in criminal investigation, citing an example in Louisiana where a DNA sample from a serial killer investigation did not match any in the FBI's database of known felons. But a private lab in Florida concluded that the suspect was a black male despite the fact that some of the eyewitnesses described the suspect as a white male. The investigators refocused their investigations and then arrested a suspected black man who was later convicted of serial murder. If you were the attorney for the arrested black man, would you pack your bag and go home or would you subject the DNA evidence to reasonable doubt the way Johnny Cochrane did in the OJ Simpson case?

First of all, DNA does not involve the 'idea of measuring race -- an effort long associated with bad science and bigotry' as the US News and World Report put it. Given the fact that all human DNAs are nearly identical, what the method indicates is the most probable ancestral place of the source of the sample. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.