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The Color of Crime (Second Edition)

Racial Hoaxes, White Fear, Black Protectionism, Police Harassment, and Other Macroaggressions

Katheryn Russell-Brown

Publication Year: 2009

When The Color of Crime was first published ten years ago, it was heralded as a path-breaking book on race and crime. Now, in its tenth anniversary year, Katheryn Russell-Brown's book is more relevant than ever. The Jena Six, Duke Lacrosse Team, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, James Byrd, and all of those victimized in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina are just a few of the racially fueled cases that have made headlines in the past decade.

Russell-Brown continues to ask, why do Black and White Americans perceive police actions so differently? Is White fear of Black crime justified? Do African Americans really protect their own? Should they? And why are we still talking about O.J.? Russell-Brown surveys the landscape of American crime and identifies some of the country's most significant racial pathologies. In this new edition, each chapter is updated and revised, and two new chapters have been added. Enriched with twenty-five new cases, the explosive and troublesome chapter on "Racial Hoaxes" demonstrates that "playing the race card" is still a popular ploy.

The Color of Crime is a lucid and forceful volume that calls for continued vigilance on the part of journalists, scholars, and policymakers alike. Through her innovative analysis of cases, ideological and media trends, issues, and practices that resonate below the public radar even in the new century, Russell-Brown explores the tacit and subtle ways that deviance is systematically linked to people of color. Her findings are impossible to ignore.

Published by: NYU Press


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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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p. vii

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p. ix

I never imagined when I signed the contract for The Color of Crime in 1995 that the book, which was published in 1998, would have a second edition. As the tenth anniversary of its publication approached, I was excited to have a chance to revisit, rethink, and rewrite some of the material. ...

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pp. 1-5

Memory is a funny thing. We like to believe that our memories are an accurate reflection of the way things were. When it comes to historical memory, however, the truth of the matter is oft en fleeting, distorted, and incomplete. As it turns out, to tell the truth about the past ...

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1. Media Messages

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pp. 6-22

Pick a mass medium. Any medium. Television, radio, newspaper, the Internet, magazines, or books. Any one of them. Each one has its own power and its own unique ability to make us see the world through the eyes of its recorder. Irrespective of the mass medium you examine, ...

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2. The Skin Game

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pp. 23-34

Depending on whom you ask, we either talk too little or not enough about race in this country. It seems we are oft en on the precipice of discussing race but have to be pushed to the edge before we engage in any assessments of progress. Th is “edge” usually comes in the form of ...

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3. History’s Strange Fruit

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pp. 35-52

Debate continues as to whether the U.S. legal system is just and fair and, if so, for whom and under which circumstances. Th ere is little debate, however, as to the justice system’s racist origins. An evaluation of the workings of the contemporary criminal justice system is incomplete ...

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4. Discrimination or Disparity?

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pp. 53-74

Study after study shows that Blacks and Whites hold contrary viewpoints about the fairness of the criminal justice system. Blacks are more likely to believe that the justice system works against them, and Whites are more likely to believe that the justice system works for them. ...

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5Are We Still Talking about O. J.?

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pp. 75-97

Th is exchange is based on an actual conversation between the author and a White female friend. Th e dialogue offers a glimpse of the racial tensions that surfaced during the O. J. Simpson case. Though many years have passed since Simpson was found not guilty of murdering his ex-wife, ...

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6. Racial Hoaxes

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pp. 98-127

Th e racial hoax is a classic example of “playing the race card.” It is a cynical manipulation of our deepest fears about race and violence. Racial hoaxes are not new and are deeply woven into our sociological and historical landscape, past and present. For centuries Black men were offered ...

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7. White Crime

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pp. 128-148

It has been said that you can tell a lot about how something is valued in a culture by the number of types or models it has been given. For instance, the automobile has many names; it has hundreds of makes and models. Th e same is true for a variety of things, such as trees, colors, ...

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8. Race and Crime Literacy

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pp. 149-160

When I was in graduate school studying criminology, “race” seemed to be shorthand for African Americans. Most of the books and articles we read cast Blacks either as offenders or as victims of crime, primarily at the hands of Black offenders. Assigned readings focused on “Black crime” and ...

Appendix A

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pp. 161-162

Appendix B

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pp. 163-186


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pp. 187-207

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 199-208


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pp. 209-212

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About the Author

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p. 213

Katheryn Russell-Brown is Professor of Law and Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law. She is the author of several other books, ...

E-ISBN-13: 9780814777213
E-ISBN-10: 081477721X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814776179
Print-ISBN-10: 0814776175

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2009

OCLC Number: 794701151
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Color of Crime (Second Edition)

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • African American criminals.
  • Racism -- United States.
  • Crime and race -- United States.
  • Discrimination in criminal justice administration -- United States.
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