Race, Crime, and Culture
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This essay is about race and crime, a topic that is itself unorthodox. For decades, but especially in recent years, academics entering this thicket have had to tread lightly, lest their careers go up in flames. Consequently, if one examines contemporary criminology and criminal justice journals one sees an overwhelming emphasis on biased treatment of minorities at the hands of the criminal justice system. There is, by contrast, relatively little work on minority involvement with crime despite overwhelming evidence of very high violent crime rates among blacks, American Indians, and some Hispanic groups. Examination of the reasons for these elevated rates seems to be of little interest to the academic community.
I first entered the danger zone in 2008, when I launched a major research project on the history of violent crime in the United States. My project focused on the many factors impinging on violent crime, not just the involvement of African Americans. On the other hand, I didn’t...