Racial discrimination and violence: A longitudinal perspective

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

23 Scopus citations


A century ago, W. E. B. Du Bois wrote: “Crime is a phenomenon of organized social life, and is the open rebellion of an individual against his social environment” (1899/1996: 235). Explaining crime among blacks in Philadelphia between 1835 and 1895, Du Bois noted their overrepresentation in the courts as well as prisons and was acknowledging the damage to society done by racial discrimination both before and after the Civil War. Enumerations of prison populations in 1904, 1910, and 1923 showed serious overrepresentation of blacks both among resident prisoners and among those committed during the years of enumeration (Reuter, 1927). The fact that rates were higher for population counts than for intakes showed that blacks not only were convicted relatively more frequently but that, also, they were given longer sentences. High crime rates among blacks are, of course, at least partly a function of the operation of the justice system and the way in which crimes and race are recorded. In many cases, white men have committed violence against blacks with impunity, thus not entering into any counts of violence. Although black recorded rates of violence exceeded the averages among whites, they did not rise to the levels of violence among Irish or Italian immigrants at particular times and places (Lane, 1997). Nevertheless, contemporary records indicate that violence among blacks, particularly among young black males, is an extremely serious phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationViolent Crime
Subtitle of host publicationAssessing Race and Ethnic Differences
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780511499456
ISBN (Print)0521622972, 9780521622974
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Racial discrimination and violence: A longitudinal perspective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this