4. Race and Crime

4.7 Conclusion

Dr. Michael Ma

This chapter has sought to demonstrate how race and racism is a multi-dimensional problem arising from a complex set of historical conditions into which people are born. These conditions are not of our choosing, and therefore they are also not within our power to simply change or erase through a force of will.

We can understand overt racism as expressing itself in the form of interpersonal bias or stereotyping that occurs between unique individuals. And we can understand institutional racism as a form of racism that arises because an institution adopts a set of rules that are biased or based in prejudice, but it is the question of systemic racism that is the most difficult to understand. In the case of systemic racism, this chapter has demonstrated that racism can occur without the presence of overt or institutional forms of racism. The chapter demonstrates that because social forces are interlocked and catalytic in operation, the existence of racism can be made invisible or naturalised. However, through an effort of critical thinking, it is possible to reveal racism and see it as a social conglomeration or as a set of intersecting social conditions that lead to racial disparity (e.g., how history, housing, schooling, policing, border control, and racial profiling may all be interlocked).

Shereen Hassan’s multi-year experience of race and racism at the border is an illustration of the way race expresses itself in normal everyday practices. It illustrates how the border may institutionally act in a racist manner because it uses race-based rules, regulations, and race-based data to surveil and control the border. In so doing, the border acts in a racist manner, but it does not need racists to create or maintain the racism. The border is not a person who is acting in an overt racist manner because the border is inert and inanimate, but the border can produce racism through its systems of examination and control. The rule or the institution by which the border conducts itself (e.g., racial profiling) is the culprit. This is the pernicious power and complexity of race and racism.


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Introduction to Criminology Copyright © 2023 by Dr. Michael Ma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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