13 thoughts on “Study: White People Support Harsher Criminal Laws If They Think More Black People Are Arrested

    • Upsetting, yes. I think it may be to do with the construction of ‘black’ people as a threat or a danger by media/social conversations. Whenever a society divides up populations and then constructs one group as dangerous/less than human, the ‘in’ group will support harsh measures. Prisoners are already seen as threatening, but when this is joined up with groups portrayed as ‘violent’ or dangerous by media/movies, it constructs people who are seen to have no worth.

      Racist/xenophobia stories often focus on people who ‘hop over borders’ (out of control), mobs of protesters (compared to groups of concerned citizens), sell drugs, violate women, the list goes on. Subtle language discrimination in itself is enough to construct monsters. And yet those people most under threat by society, those most vulnerable, are the very people constructed as threats. It’s quite terrible.

  1. Any attempts at an explanation.?To me it is a kind of thoughtless(and cruel and stupid) mindless reaction. Like kids in a playground piling on the one who seems vulnerable. And ascribing shame to the victim rather than taking shame on oneself for the bullying. I seem to remember hassling that out for myself at a tender age.

    • Oh, Anchusa, I was going to reply to you, but I replied to Robert instead, with what I think is a possible explanation.

  2. How is it white people’s fault that black people commit more crimes than any other group? How does that make sense?

    • Poverty is the primary driver of crime, not race or ethnicity. In America, poverty results from a variety of socioeconomic factors (e.g. employment opportunity, quality of education, access to health care, and heredity), and is greatly worsened by institutional bias and cultural prejudice.

      It is purely the fault of those White people who are either too ignorant to understand this basic sociological dynamic, or who willingly disregard it in favor of placating their primitive xenophobic fears.

  3. Teddybear, it makes sense because , whatever the law says about equality, black people suffer a level of discrimination which equates to lesser job opportunities, general disregard and levels of incivility. Plus a history of social disorganization resulting from slavery which results in difficulty entering the larger society as well as a level of resentment and anger which is very understandable. Not everybody, of course, but it certainly is a tempting mind set to fall into.
    If one spends a little time thinking oneself into that kind of situation and social milieu it is not hard to understand why feelings of gross unfairness express themselves as crime- plus society at large is much more inclined to convict black people and treat them more harshly.

  4. The article you cite says (in the last paragraph), “exposure to extreme racial disparities may make the public less, and not more, responsive to attempts to lessen the severity of policies that help maintain those disparities.” That, coupled with the results of the experiments make me wonder how on earth we’ll be able to effectively tackle racism in the criminal justice system. This really, really bothers and scares me. It makes me wonder about human beings.

  5. As a white person I must admit, sometimes I am tempted to hate certain white people.

    The fact remains these white people must realize it isn’t just poor people of color who suffer under harsher laws but poor whites as well.

    “Laws were created by the rich to grind the poor”

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