Is Fear of Robbery Racist?
Consider these two quotes by distinguished Black Americans
If Iím walking down a street in
Center City Philadelphia at two in the morning and I hear some footsteps behind
me and I turn around and there are a couple of young white dudes behind me, I
am probably not going to get very uptight. Iím probably not going to have the
same reaction if I turn around and there is the proverbial Black urban youth
behind me. Now if I am going to have this reactionóand Iím a Black male who has studied marshal arts for twenty
some odd years and can defend myselfóI
canít help but think that the average white judge in the situation will have a
reaction that is ten times more intense. Judge Theodore A. McKee,
There is nothing more painful for me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start to think about robbery and then look around and see itís somebody white and feel relieved. The Reverend Jesse Jackson. (Kennedy 1998, 16)
Now consider the following excerpt from Richard T. Wrightís and Scott H. Deckerís Armed Robbers in Action (1997):
Racial prejudice undoubtedly accounts for some of the fear that robbery engenders in the population. Unlike other forms of criminal violence, armed robbery often is an interracial event in which a white victim is confronted by a Black offender. The offense can both provoke and reinforce racial stereotypes in which Blacks are perceived to be predatory and violentÖ. Robberies have done much to exacerbate racial tensions in American cities.
1. If you had only this information, would you conclude that race is the reason for the fear of robbery, or is it the myth about robbery that generates the fear, or is it both?
2. What kinds of additional information would you need before you made any recommendations about what to do about the fear of robbery?