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The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America Paperback – November 30, We know less about the role of the urban North in shaping views of race and crime in American society. Khalil Gibran Muhammad is Professor of History, Race, and.
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A little hard to get through, but definitely well researched and very interesting subject material. A must read for anyone interested in the origins of black criminality. Sep 09, Sean O'Brien rated it it was amazing. An important alternate history of both the rise of racism post-Civil War and the antecedents of the civil rights movement. This history should be taught to our children in school. Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America employs a historiographic lens to examine the discourse of social scientists with regard to the emergence of crime statistics and their unflattering association with black racialization.

Such crime data was weaponized in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century to confirm the already existing racist rhetoric of black inferiority and, more importantly, black criminality.

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In nearly every sphere of life it impacted how people defined fundamental differences between native whites, immigrants, and blacks. Programs of reform offered to white immigrants were denied to blacks, who were also the target of violent discrimination, making their situations more dire. Hoffman, a German immigrant whose book Race Traits and the Tendencies of the American Negro convinced a generation to adopt an interpretation of crime data that linked it with black racial criminalization. Du Bois, tried to challenge Hoffman, but they were few in number and largely ignored, even by fellow scholars.

The Condemnation of Blackness

Overall, social scientists embraced the statistical studies because they seemed to prove their already racist notions while separating them from the pro-slavery Confederate past. Unsurprisingly, such thinking created a double-standard with regard to crime among whites and blacks, where the prior was seen as a result of environmental pressures and the latter the product of inferior biology. However, by replacing biological determinism with culture as the cause for black criminality, blacks were still stigmatized as being predisposed to crime.

Now, however, they were viewed as an immature race that was far behind what contemporary America represented. To their credit, however, northern progressives at the very least acknowledged the presence and effects of northern racism. For them, black criminality was neither simply biological nor cultural, but a moral failing. This was at least partly to keep blacks from moving north to look for opportunities. The fifth chapter once again begins with Philadelphia, this time focusing on its process of fighting crime.

In Mayor Rudolph J.

The Condemnation of Blackness Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America

Blankenburg commenced an attack on vice in the city, but only focused on white communities, leaving black neighborhoods to continue to suffer their hardships. Ironically, however, crime in these areas was often run by whites, including corrupt politicians. Muhammad deftly gives voice to both sides of the racial divide and to those who attempted to bridge the gap. In the age of the Black Lives Matter movement and of black professional athletes taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police discrimination, there is a clear indication that the issues Muhammad pinpoints are still working their way beneath the skin of a racially divided America.

Feb 13, Dallas Swindell rated it really liked it. The Condemnation of Blackness is a thorough, and often dense, exploration of the erroneous dangers of racial liberalism in the cities of the Northeastern United States from reconstruction on past the great migration. Khalil Gibran Muhammad teleologically documents and lays bare the interminable white supremacism that lead to the perpetuation of African Americans as second class citizens via crime, culture, and the Jim Crow valuation of innate worthlessness.

Apologists and hesitant allies like Bo The Condemnation of Blackness is a thorough, and often dense, exploration of the erroneous dangers of racial liberalism in the cities of the Northeastern United States from reconstruction on past the great migration. Apologists and hesitant allies like Booker T Washington and Susan Wharton are contrasted with their true abolitionist contemporaries like W. DuBois and Ida B Wells. The Condemnation of Blackness is organized to move forward historically and show the ways in which black destitution and crime was reflexively turned back on the African American populations of the North East and Southern United States as a way of deflecting the root institutionally racist causes of those ills.

Instead the biology, culture, and work ethic of these populations was systematically purported by white racial liberals and model black citizens alike to engender stasis and suffering all while new immigrant populations were being supported and integrated into cities across the country. The otherness of black skin was something which the latent and active white supremacism of American history and developing society in the years since emancipation could not lose grasp of, as the result would be facing the true process of equality.

KGM underscores this in all of his analysis, yet does so within the context of each chapter of struggle that he is documenting; rather than presenting his own scrutiny forthright and outside of the background of the cities, individuals, and organizations he is bringing to bear. My main complaint with the book is that at times KGM's system of analysis is perfectly situated within the context of his research, while at other times, it's often hard to discern when he is filling in a blank in someone's quote, relaying their message as it was accepted at the time, or digging deeper into the effects of the individual, policy, or organization.

If anything this has caused a bit of looping back and forth on my part to make sure all implications of his research and points are clear before reading on. The at times dense nature of his writing does however lends a thoroughness and sharp eye to a history of the US that I have often found glossed over in my own education so far. His detailed analysis has helped illuminate a very multifaceted and detailed understanding of the ways in which race was transmuted and a whole population of people were subverted from the American culture of freedom.

Or as KGM himself says, his work is in documenting the "paradoxes of 'racial reform' vis-a-vis racial condemnation As KGM focuses in on the early s in Philadelphia his depictions of white denizens, police forces, and government officials creates a strong parallel with current anti-black culture. Speaking of a routinely disenfranchised and victimized black population I. May 02, David rated it really liked it Shelves: The book isn't as expansive as the title might indicate, and ends up taking a very narrow topic the rise of social science, particularly sociology, in the late 19th century, and its effect on views of the intersection on criminality and race and digging in far more deeply than was consistently interesting.

The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America

I'm intrigued by Muhammad's claims, but I feel like I understood his basic point within the first chapter, and the recitation of the nuances of how one school of sociology differed from anot The book isn't as expansive as the title might indicate, and ends up taking a very narrow topic the rise of social science, particularly sociology, in the late 19th century, and its effect on views of the intersection on criminality and race and digging in far more deeply than was consistently interesting.

I'm intrigued by Muhammad's claims, but I feel like I understood his basic point within the first chapter, and the recitation of the nuances of how one school of sociology differed from another didn't add significantly to my understanding or acceptance of those claims. Jan 31, Frank rated it really liked it. An astoundingly well-researched and annotated study of the racialization of crime from the beginning of the Jim Crow era to the New Negro Renaissance. Not exactly a page-turner I occasionally found myself lost in the weeds of Muhammad's examples and analyses , the book nevertheless offers a fine-grained historiography that details the racism of many American criminologists and social theorists, along with the work of people like W.

Du Bois, Ida B. Wells, and Charles S. Johnson who tried t An astoundingly well-researched and annotated study of the racialization of crime from the beginning of the Jim Crow era to the New Negro Renaissance. Johnson who tried to offer a more liberating counternarrative. Mar 12, Heather rated it liked it. Incredibly detailed and well-researched book about the use of racial crime statistics from the s to s. I wanted to read it because of the content, but it took a few months for me to get through. It's a fairly academic book that may not interest the average reader. If you're looking for an introduction to the history of race relations in the U.

However, if you want to read the nuanced research that backs up Anders Incredibly detailed and well-researched book about the use of racial crime statistics from the s to s. However, if you want to read the nuanced research that backs up Anderson's assertions, check this out. Dec 03, UChicagoLaw added it Shelves: Sep 01, Kim Martin rated it really liked it. This book will change forever the way I think about crime, prisons, education, race relations, and our current sociological problems involving all of these things.

Mar 21, Katie Fuller rated it it was amazing. An excellent book that looks at early sociological studies of race and criminality. The book shows how these mostly white researchers were essentially writing racism into the science books and the unfathomable destruction of their analyses. On the other side of the arguments were the great W. DuBois and Ida B. Wells, who along with others, challenged these studies. Dec 10, Pascal rated it really liked it. Excellent chronicling of the way race and racism has been woven in social science data on crime. This is a very important book in understanding how notions of racial inferiority were tied to crime in order to justify racist abuse and neglect by municipal police departments throughout the northeast from the s to the s.

This book essentially details the origins of "Stop and Frisk" and the injustice of it all. A worthwhile read for anyone who has ever subscribed to the notion that since blacks are arrested more often, there is something inherently criminal about them. Mar 16, Chelsea rated it it was amazing. Extremely detailed historical account of how criminality was linked to Blackness post-slavery through the beginning of World War II. It is a work of incredible scholarship and very relevant today. View freely available titles: Book titles OR Journal titles.

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Contact Contact Us Help. Muhammad's "Condemnation" argues that while white criminals are seen as "temporary" and therefore "reversible;" black criminals, and black crime is seen as DNA related, and therefore, not "reversible. Great historical read - learned an abundance of facts concerning the deep-seated racism within most Americans - We were intentionally groomed and unfortunately we don't recognize it in ourselves due to the powers of our own unconscious, but here is the history in black and white.

This information should be included in our history books and required reading for all politicians, legal professionals and others in power. I'm a big enthusiast for history books that inform the present by examining the past. This is such a book! I was grabbed right from the introduction, on page 1, when the question is asked, "How was the statistical link between blackness and criminality initially forged? You hear today a lot of talk about "black-on-black" crime. Once you understand the history of linking blackness to criminality, and this book will cement that comprehension you will no longer, or SHOULD no longer engage in the ever so popular conversation of "black criminality.

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The author notes, '"the numbers speak for themselves" was one frequent refrain, followed by "I am not a racist. Often, people think verbiage and concepts come out of a vacuum, that is why this book is important, it debunks that nonsense. If you want to be informed about how Blacks came to be condemned concerning the issue of criminality, then this is a must read. If you want to engage and challenge the "intelligent" pundits, do not hesitate in purchasing this thorough volume.


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It really illuminates the players in the drama of creating the idea of the black criminal. The Condemnation of Blackness is a painstakingly researched narrative on the formation of social policy in the urban north rooted in a double-standard applied to African-Americans as opposed to immigrants of European descent, which attributed challenges faced by African Americans to their so-called innate traits to the exclusion of other factors such as employment opportunities, educational disparities and housing segregation rooted in racism.

Khalil Muhammad presents a compelling discourse on the historical roots of this policy which appeared to rely more on the racial bias of its progenitors than careful analysis of the other factors contributing to then-named "Negro Problem". Muhammad's assessment beginning from the census, the inception of the Progressive Era , through the s, is rooted in factual presentation of the ideas and to a certain extent the biases of the influencers of social policy with respect to African Americans. He highlights the extent to which effort was made to integrate foreign-born immigrants into society while simultaneously excluding black Americans, often rationalizing such behavior by attributing the "waste" in investing resources such as education in African Americans.

These same framers of public policy decreed that the challenges of urban life for European immigrants could be addressed through social intervention, placing the blame for rampant crime, unemployment and out of wedlock births on the inherent ills of overcrowded metropolises such as New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia as a result of mass migrations to these population hubs. Interestingly, Professor Muhammad points out the fact that those same conditions existed in large cities in Europe from which the immigrants originated without those similar patterns of migration, though no policy formers took the leap of thought that these immigrants brought these problems with them.

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Considering the large-scale criminalization of African Americans in northern urban areas, the eventual concentration of white criminal activity in predominantly black areas, the exclusion of black Americans from access to social services and education, it is a testament to strength of character of these individuals who were able to survive and in subsequent generations thrive in such an openly hostile environment. The author carefully and accurately links the roots of the current issues urban areas face today, particularly in regards to crime, with the policies set in place in the 19th century.


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The Condemnation of Blackness is a must read for anyone who is interested in the roots of the issue of disproportionately high incarceration rates of African Americans and for those who seek understanding of this issue through the lens of critical analysis of data rather than merely using data to implement flawed decision making. In this sense, The Condemnation of Blackness serves as both a sociological study as well as a historical reference.

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