A Critical Examination of Hate
Crime Scholarship and the
African Americans in
Bryan D. Byers, Paul J. Becker, and Kelly J. Opiola
In this chapter we attempt to shed light on the underrepresentation of African Americans as a victimized group within existing hate crime literature. The chapter is divided into several parts. We begin with a discussion of the history and nature of hate crime victimization within American society. We then examine the social construction of the hate crime problem and the literature specific to hate crime, with a particular focus on victimization. Finally, we analyze hate crime literature, focusing on the groups that have been represented in the literature, particularly African Americans. In this chapter we attempt to demonstrate that although African Americans have repeatedly been deemed the most likely target of hate crime, their relative representation in hate crime literature has been limited. In short, even though there has been proliferation of hate crime research and literature, African American victimization has been underrepresented. In the last section we offer some possible reasons for this pattern.
Though the term hate crime is of recent origin, history is replete with examples, such as the genocide of Native Americans and the lynching of African Americans. The United States has a long history of victimization predicated upon race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and other categories typically found in hate crime legislation. Several accounts have