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The current concept of ‘violent crime’ is outdated, racist, and a tool of white supremacy White people commit about as much crime as Black people, but do not face the same consequences. The problem lies within the very definition of violence.

We’ve all heard the stats: Black Americans are incarcerated at five times the rate of white Americans, and make up nearly 40% of the total prison population. But here’s a thing the internet racists won’t tell you: SPLC research shows that white people are just as likely to commit violent crimes as Black people.

So why are Black Americans being locked up at such alarmingly disproportionate rates? The answer lies in the current concept of “violent crime” and its roots in racism and white supremacy.

It’s time to face the uncomfortable truth: our criminal justice system is built on systemic racism, and even the very label of “violent crime” itself has become a tool for perpetuating it. The reality is that the current definition of violent crime is outdated and shaped by decades of racist policies, from the war on drugs to the “tough on crime” mentality. These policies have had a devastating impact on Black communities, leading to mass incarceration and tearing families apart.

White people have always had the power to define what is considered a crime, and what is considered violent. This means that the definition of violent crime can’t help but to be racist, as it has been shaped by the inherent anti-Black prejudices of white folks.

The double standard is stark: white people who commit violent crimes are often seen as misguided or having made a mistake, while Black people who do the same are labeled as dangerous and in need of punishment.

We must acknowledge the role that white supremacy has played in the very idea itself of “violent crime,” and undo as much of the damage as possible.

A path forward

Since the very concept of violent crime is based on a Eurocentric perspective, it does not take into account the cultural differences and experiences of non-white communities. For example, some indigenous cultures may have different ways of resolving conflicts that do not involve severe levels of physical violence, but may still be considered violent by the current definition used in criminal justice. The same goes for trans folks, and Black folks in urban communities.

One of the solutions to the problem of violent crime therefore is to make culture and community kinship a core consideration at the root of its definition. This would help us avoid stigmatizing and criminalizing behaviors that are acceptable within certain cultures, and instead focus on addressing the root causes of violence.

Tossing out white supremacist language and white supremacist one-size-fits-all approaches will go a long way to nurture a nuanced and kind criminal justice system, and alleviate the many racial disparities therein. And it needs to happen sooner rather than later.

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PS. The A Black Woman Is Speaking mug is a standing invitation to sit down, shut up, and engage in the wisdom shared by Black women. Lord knows the world needs it right now.

1 thought on “<span class="entry-title-primary">The current concept of ‘violent crime’ is outdated, racist, and a tool of white supremacy</span> <span class="entry-subtitle">White people commit about as much crime as Black people, but do not face the same consequences. The problem lies within the very definition of violence.</span>”

  1. It’s a shame our judiciary do not have the cojones of European courts, who already take culture into account (often to the chagrin of racists ;). But we’re working on these frameworks at the academic level and I expect much good to come of it when more white American judges age out.


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