Sample Student SOCI 1301 Professor Adams Article Review 2/27/2022 Bridges 2 Article

Sample Student
SOCI 1301
Professor Adams
Article Review
Bridges 2
Article Review of
Introduction: African Americans, Police Brutality, and the US Criminal Justice System
The main point of Clarence Taylor’s article on police brutality within the criminal justice system within African American communities in the United States was to establish that current policing practices and criminal justice laws are forms of institutional racism that mirror the ways in which Jim Crow during the legalized slavery era currently disenfranchise blacks in predominately African American communities. Specifically, Taylor claims that recent research shows that the current increases in incarcerations among blacks due to illegal drug possession is a form of institutionalized slavery because the judges who rule on these cases favor sending more blacks to prison who commit these infractions than they do whites who commit the same infraction. Taylor states that the “War on Drugs” movement addressed in Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness (2010) was just a means to legally practice slavery in the United States by massively incarcerating blacks who possessed minimal amounts of illegal drugs and who, otherwise, posed no threat to the public. Taylor further claims that research show that this massive incarceration has eradicated the gains in the criminal justice system made by the civil rights movements of the 1980s and is racially motivated to target and disenfranchise black men and women.
Taylor’s research method was first to review and analyze pre-existing literature on the subject of the mass incarceration practices within the US criminal justice system within the African American community and second to study the American Communists Party’s (CP) involvement in debunking the myths about black criminal action through observation and interviews.
In his literature review, Taylor found that Petitt’s Invisible Men: Mass Incarceration and the Myth of Black Progress (2012) suggests that the tens of thousands of black men in prison put into question the overall number of black men who benefitted from the economic progress made in the late twenty-first century because of federal government policies that were directed at improving the quality of healthcare, housing, employment, and violence in communities within that population. Taylor also found that Marilyn Johnson’s work, Street Justice: A History of Police Violence in New York City (2000) revealed data that addressed the anti-black police brutality and anti-labor police brutality movement in New York City. Taylor noted that although Johnson’s research was valid, she did not address the impact the American Communist Party played in enlightening the public about the maltreatment of blacks by police.
Other research analyzed by Taylor included Dwight Watson’s (2005) and Leonard M. Moore’s (2010) research that suggested a trend in southern states of disproportionately imprisoning blacks for minor offenses was well-known in the police departments and was considered status-quo and used as a form of controlling the black communities, forming a public perception that “criminalized” blacks. According to the researchers Taylor reviewed, this public perception increased the fear of crime in non-black communities and accounted for “white flight” into suburban neighborhoods, which left inner-city communities without the financial capital to sustain itself; thus, increasing criminal behaviors. Taylor claimed that this research explains how beliefs about the disproven biological Darwinism transferred to social Darwinism, which is a constructed belief that blacks are socially inferior beings who are prone to criminal behavior.
In Taylor’s exploration of the CP role in police brutality, he found that the campaigns against brutality revealed that there were critical successful elections held to post officials in the city legislature who would tell the truth about what was happening between the black community and the police. Taylor’s study discovered that there was an intrinsic belief that blacks “needed more surveillance” than their white counterparts. Specifically, Taylor found these beliefs to be true among white officers in the New York City and Milwaukee Police Departments. When he interviewed black Milwaukeeans, Taylor reported that those participants “felt that they were facing an occupying army.” The participants reported that they felt their resistance and direct confrontations with police were “not irresponsible; they were the tactics available to [them] as a way to confront unjustified police violence and repression” (2013). Taylor concluded his research by suggesting that African Americans and the US criminal justice system have been an oppositional force for more than a century in ways that continues today, and mass incarceration is the central focus of this form of racial hatred.
The significance of Taylor’s study is he places the issue of police brutality and the criminal “injustice” system for many African Americans into a current and relevant context. For many Americans, education on the notions of racial discrimination have been presented as history-a thing of the past and not as a current event. From a sociological standpoint this is contribution is important because it is much easier to change something that is happening than it is to change something that has happened. In other words, tensions around race relations have a greater chance of improving if the problems races presently face are flushed out and transparent when people are experiencing those incidences in real time. This contribution is important because historically the voices in the minority communities have been silenced, and this research shows the historical trends of the US systems ignoring, justifying, and oppressing the truth about the degradation of a vital social aspect of our American humanitarianism and social interdependency.
The limits to the study are its research methods. Particularly the main method was a literature review and not an empirical study that analyzed qualitative data. Although Taylor reviewed several researchers, he did not construct or present new data himself; therefore, his conclusions were persuaded by the findings of his literature review verses being based on original data. His sample size seemed to be limited as well. He reported on research that came from mainly northeastern and southwestern states, with their only being major cities as his focal point. This limit also reveals that limits to his research being generalizable across multiple contexts. What offsets this limit is the large number of recent media that document the abundance of so many blacks being incarcerated across the United States at disproportionate numbers for nearly the same charge and the media documents that show whites not being held to the same standards for the same infractions of the law. Taylor also does not present counterarguments that show how many blacks are adjudicated, commuted, or released for being first-time or repeat offenders. In other words, Taylor does not present the whole truth about how blacks are treated in the system, including their culpability when there may have been legal choices available to resolve personal conflicts instead of committing an illegal act.
Overall, what Taylor does well can be linked to social conflict theory, which is a Marxist theory that argues that individuals and groups within society interact on the basis of conflict rather than consensus. In this sense, blacks and whites do not interact within a common experience with a common understanding of the norms that would otherwise govern a shared social “for the common good of all” construct. It is as though the two races share a common place, earth, but do not share a common experience upon the earth. Blacks and whites seem to operate as different species with an implicit goal to annihilate the other based on preconceived notions that reflect both Biological and Social Darwinist Theory. There seems to be a perpetual imbalance between them. Unfortunately, ending racial pluralism could result in the annihilation of humans. This annihilation could be resolved if the material needed to survive were not limited, which leads to grounds for further research perhaps in the religious domain. A religious research question could be: “To what extent does one’s belief in the supernatural concept of “abundance” decrease the negative impact on race relations that are constructed based on Social Darwinist Theory?”
Taylor, C. (2013). Introduction: African Americans, Police Brutality, and the U.S. Criminal Justice System. Journal of African American History, 98(2), 200–204.