The Color of Crime
Racial Hoaxes, White Fear, Black Protectionism, Police Harassment, and Other MacroaggressionseBook - 1998
When Americans are asked what concerns them most about the direction of the country, crime and racial tensions invariably figure prominently in the answer. In the minds of many, these two problems are inextricably linked. Yet opinions and beliefs about race and crime are often informed as much by myth and preconception as by fact and reality.
In this important book, Katheryn K. Russell surveys the landscape of American crime and identifies some of the country's most significant racial pathologies. Why do Black and White Americans perceive police actions so differently? Is White fear of Black crime justified? Do African Americans really "protect their own"? Should they?
Perhaps the most explosive and troublesome phenomenon at the nexus of race and crime is the racial hoax--a contemporary version of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Examining both White-on-Black hoaxes such as Susan Smith's and Charles Stuart's claims that Black men were responsible for crimes they themselves committed, and Black-on-White hoaxes such as the Tawana Brawley episode, Russell illustrates the formidable and lasting damage that occurs when racial stereotypes are manipulated and exploited for personal advantage. She shows us how such hoaxes have disastrous consequences and compellingly argues for harsher punishments for offenders.
Stressing that journalists, scholars, and policymakers alike have an ethical imperative to disregard and refute inflammatory or wrong-headed work on race, The Color of Crime is a lucid and forceful book, impossible to ignore.