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UMass Lowell Library Resources on Racism in the United States

Policing

Books: Criminal Justice Disparity

Racial Disparities in Capital Sentencing

Flexon presents an interdisciplinary perspective to the problem of racial disparities in capital case outcomes. In doing so, research from social and cognitive psychology concerning stereotypes and attitude influence were bridged with other empirical findings concerning racial disparities in capital sentencing. Specifically, the psychology of stereotypes and attitudes are used to help explain how racial discrimination can operate undetected among death qualified jurors while producing sentencing discrepancies. The introduction of a potential source of bias information concerning criminal justice and race also is offered. Results indicate that prejudicial ideas are likely operating to influence capital sentencing decisions.

The New Jim Crow

Once in a great while a book comes along that changes the way we see the world and helps to fuel a nationwide social movement. The New Jim Crow is such a book. Praised by Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier as "brave and bold," this book directly challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signals a new era of colorblindness. With dazzling candor, legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that "we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it." By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control—relegating millions to a permanent second-class status—even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. In the words of Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, this book is a "call to action." Called "stunning" by Pulitzer Prize–winning historian David Levering Lewis, "invaluable" by the Daily Kos, "explosive" by Kirkus, and "profoundly necessary" by the Miami Herald, this updated and revised paperback edition of The New Jim Crow, now with a foreword by Cornel West, is a must-read for all people of conscience.

Inequality, Crime, and Health among African American Males

Imprisonment, homicide, non-lethal assault and other crime, chronic and infectious disease, substance abuse, suicide, and accidents all contribute to the much wider gap in the community-level sex ratios found among African Americans compared to those observed found among other ethnic and racial groups in the United States. This wide array of causes and correlates of African American male mortality, disability, and confinement suggests an area in need of interdisciplinary inquiry that examines the intersection between public health and public safety.   Health analysts and social scientists across many disciplines have studied the disproportionately high levels of disease, disability, premature death, and exposure to the criminal justice system in African Americans communities extensively. To date, there has been little overlap between the diverse literatures even though the very same factors leading to crime and punishment among African American males often contribute to their poor physical and mental health profiles. This book addresses this omission by including chapters exploring the multifaceted dimensions of the varied disadvantages faced by African American males.  Authors draw from an array of theoretical and methodological frameworks to illustrate how poor outcomes and sharp disparities among individuals and communities can be linked to the interplay of multiple factors operating at multiple levels. This volume is a useful resource for serious scholars and makers of public policy who seek to understand the causal interplay among economic and racial inequality, gender, crime, punishment, and health outcomes among all African Americans.

Black Rage in the American Prison System

Noble's thesis is that African-American inmates transport "black rage" into the prison subculture, which significantly affects prison violence rates. He finds previous studies superficial and raises the bar for future examinations by proposing a sensitive and taboo theory to explain the strong racial patterns observed in prison victimization. Noble's work supports the importation theory of the inmate subculture proposed by Irwin and Cressey. He builds on their theory by advocating for the inclusion of race and other cultural factors concerning the inmate and staff populations into predicative models. He concludes that prisons with greater racial disparities between the inmate and staff populations experience higher staff assault rates

You're Dead--So What? Media, Police, and the Invisibility of Black Women as Victims of Homicide

Though numerous studies have been conducted regarding perceived racial bias in newspaper reporting of violent crimes, few studies have focused on the intersections of race and gender in determining the extent and prominence of this coverage, and more specifically how the lack of attention to violence against women of color reinforces their invisibility in the social structure. This book provides an empirical study of media and law enforcement bias in reporting and investigating homicides of African American women compared with their white counterparts. The author discusses the symbiotic relationship between media coverage and the response from law enforcement to victims of color, particularly when these victims are reported missing and presumed to be in danger by their loved ones. Just as the media are effective in helping to increase police response, law enforcement officials reach out to news outlets to solicit help from the public in locating a missing person or solving a murder. However, a deeply troubling disparity in reporting the disappearance and homicides of female victims reflects racial inequality and institutionalized racism in the social structure that need to be addressed. It is this disparity this important study seeks to solve.

Blackhood Against the Police Power

Both significant and timely, Blackhood Against the Police Power addresses the punishment of "race" and the disavowal of sexual violence central to the contemporary "post-racial" culture of politics. Here the author asserts that the post-racial presents an antiblack animus that should be read as desiring the end of blackness and the black liberation movement's singular ethical claims. The book redefines policing as a sociohistorical process of implementing antiblackness and, in so doing, redefines racism as an act of sexual violence that produces the punishment of race. It smartly critiques the way leading antiracist discourse is frequently complicit with antiblackness and recalls the original 1960s conception of black studies as a corrective to the deficiencies in today's critical discourse on race and sex. The book explores these lines of inquiry to pinpoint how the history of racial slavery wraps itself in a new discourse of disavowal. In this way, Blackhood Against the Police Power responds to a range of texts, policies, practices, and representations complicit with the police power--from the Fourth Amendment and the movements to curtail stop-and-frisk policing and mass incarceration to popular culture treatments of blackness to the leading academic discourses on race and sex politics.

Jury Discrimination

In 1906 a white lawyer named Dabney Marshall argued a case before the Mississippi Supreme Court demanding the racial integration of juries. He carried out a plan devised by Mississippi's foremost black lawyer of the time: Willis Mollison. Against staggering odds, and with the help of a friendly newspaper editor, he won. How Marshall and his allies were able to force the court to overturn state law and precedent, if only for a brief period, at the behest of the U.S. Supreme Court is the subject of Jury Discrimination, a book that explores the impact of the Civil War and Reconstruction on America's civil rights history. Christopher Waldrep traces the origins of Americans' ideas about trial by jury and provides the first detailed analysis of jury discrimination. Southerners' determination to keep their juries entirely white played a crucial role in segregation, emboldening lynchers and vigilantes like the Ku Klux Klan. As the postbellum Congress articulated ideals of national citizenship in civil rights legislation, most importantly the Fourteenth Amendment, factions within the U.S. Supreme Court battled over how to read the amendment: expansively, protecting a variety of rights against a host of enemies, or narrowly, guarding only against rare violations by state governments. The latter view prevailed, entombing the amendment in a narrow interpretation that persists to this day. Although the high court clearly denounced the overt discrimination enacted by state legislatures, it set evidentiary rules that made discrimination by state officers and agents extremely difficult to prove. Had these rules been less onerous, Waldrep argues, countless black jurors could have been seated throughout the nation at precisely the moment when white legislators and jurists were making and enforcing segregation laws. Marshall and Mollison's success in breaking through Mississippi law to get blacks admitted to juries suggests that legal reasoning plausibly founded on constitutional principle, as articulated by the Supreme Court, could trump even the most stubbornly prejudiced public opinion.

Cincinnati Police Department Traffic Stops

In 2002, the Cincinnati Police Department (CPD) joined with other agencies and organizations to improve police-community relations in the city. This report focuses on the analysis of racial disparities in traffic stops in Cincinnati. The authors find no evidence of racial differences between the stops of black and those of similarly situated nonblack drivers, but some issues can exacerbate the perception of racial bias.

Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect?

What is the reality of policing in the United States? Do the police keep anyone safe and secure other than the very wealthy? How do recent police killings of young black people in the United States fit into the historical and global context of anti-blackness? This collection of reports and essays (the first collaboration between Truthout and Haymarket Books) explores police violence against black, brown, indigenous and other marginalized communities, miscarriages of justice, and failures of token accountability and reform measures. It also makes a compelling and provocative argument against calling the police. Contributions cover a broad range of issues including the killing by police of black men and women, police violence against Latino and indigenous communities, law enforcement's treatment of pregnant people and those with mental illness, and the impact of racist police violence on parenting, as well as specific stories such as a Detroit police conspiracy to slap murder convictions on young black men using police informant and the failure of Chicago's much-touted Independent Police Review Authority, the body supposedly responsible for investigating police misconduct. The title Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? is no mere provocation: the book also explores alternatives for keeping communities safe. Contributors include William C. Anderson, Candice Bernd, Aaron Cant#65533;, Thandi Chimurenga, Ejeris Dixon, Adam Hudson, Victoria Law, Mike Ludwig, Sarah Macaraeg, and Roberto Rodriguez.

Race and Police Brutality

Disputes standard explanations of police brutality against minority citizens to offer new insights and suggestions on dealing with this problem.

Justice in America

As reactions to the O. J. Simpson verdict, the Rodney King beating, and the Amadou Diallo killing make clear, whites and African Americans in the United States inhabit two different perceptual worlds, with the former seeing the justice system as largely fair and color blind and the latter believing it to be replete with bias and discrimination. The authors tackle two important questions in this book: what explains the widely differing perceptions, and why do such differences matter? They attribute much of the racial chasm to the relatively common personal confrontations that many blacks have with law enforcement - confrontations seldom experienced by whites. More importantly, the authors demonstrate that this racial chasm is consequential: it leads African Americans to react much more cynically to incidents of police brutality and racial profiling, and also to be far more skeptical of punitive anti-crime policies ranging from the death penalty to three-strikes laws.