Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Does crime only come in one color?

A recently-added regular feature of Fox 2's nightly newscast is its Crime Stoppers profiles. This is a segment in which, each night, four wanted criminals from the Detroit area are briefly profiled, showing the face of each criminal, and describing why each is being sought after by law enforcement.

Unfortunately (you probably already know where I'm going), an overwhelming majority of the criminals profiled look like me, night in and night out.

Maybe I'm just being hypersensitive, but I find it hard to believe that the only people in the metro Detroit area who are "doin' dirt" are black males.

PLEASE do not get me wrong! I am as hard on crime as they come. I believe that all of the individuals profiled by the Crime Stoppers have probably performed some dastardly acts, and should be apprehended and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. As someone who spent his formative years growing up in the city of Detroit, I realize the impact that crime has had in our communities.

However, by showcasing black men almost exclusively, the Crime Stoppers profiles only serve to perpetuate the negative stereotypes that our society (including some of us) already have of young black men in general. I just find it hard to believe that people of other ethnic backgrounds are not also wanted for criminal activity. Last time I checked, black folks hadn't secured the exclusive rights to criminality.

Furthermore, the perpetuation of black male stereotypes places an especially heavy burden on young brothers that are doing the right thing on a daily basis, causing us to have to prove that we're not like "the rest of them". When you're young, black, and male, too often you're assumed to be suspect, until or unless you can demonstrate otherwise.

I wonder what brother Huel Perkins must be thinking as he reads these profiles every night?

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