1.9 Definition of Terms
The following section of the research report delves into definition of terms used in the context of the research paper. As such, the terms include popularly used terms, however, in the context of the research report hold specific meanings. For purposes of enhancement of clarity on the meanings of the worlds presented in the research report, the subsequent section details the meanings of individual terminologies as under;
1.9.1 Police Brutality
The actions of the police as relates to battering, killing, harassment and detaining of African-American males discriminately.
1.9.2 Crime Rate
The statistics and cases associated with criminal behaviour or instances that can be linked to African-American males as perpetrators. As such, the presentation of media reports, government reports, and non-governmental agencies on the frequency of crime among people of African-American decent forms the basis of discussion on crime rate.
1.9.3 African-American Criminal
The image portrayed in the media whether traditional or modern that places the Black male in a stereotypical conjecture of a criminal. The inference created, hence, informs the perceptions of the audiences consuming certain media content and information as regards the nature of the African-American male criminal.
1.9.4 Gun Violence
The number of incidences of police shootings associated with the killing of African-American men thought to be criminals or wrongfully branded as such. Further, the retaliation from African-American men through the use of guns to kill police officers in seeking vengeance for slain Black men in the hands of rogue White police officers.
Regards privilege enjoyed by the dominant White majority who essentially comprise the members of the armed forces and law enforcement agencies. As such, White people in criminal justice system as a whole use their numbers and influence as a recourse to malign rather control the fate of the Black minority in the country. Consequently, through manipulation of the criminal justice system White supremacy results in racism when dealing with African-American males who are suspected of engagement in criminal acts.
1.9.6 Inequality, Discrimination and colour blind racism
Closely associated with the term ‘racism’ discussed above, inequality and discrimination regards the disadvantages that African-Americans have endured over the years of their history in the United States. To that extent, the words inequality and discrimination are meant to encompass the historical suffering of African-Americans under the status quo of White supremacy. Moreover, the implications for the state of affairs dating from the age of slavery to present issue of police brutality, the terms inequality, colour blind racism and discrimination reflect the never ending cycle of Black American’s suffering under White supremacist regimes.
1.9.7 The Media
The media regards to sources of information and entertainment that encompass both traditional and modern forms of media. In that respect, the media here refers to sources of information about police brutality where African-American men are victimized. Moreover, the media comprises both independent and corporate or commercial entities that govern and shape the manner with which messages are packaged and distributed to audiences. Examples of traditional forms of media include newspapers, journals, periodicals, television, and radio news. On the other hand, modern approaches to news sharing through new media platforms include social media such as Facebook and Twitter as well as YouTube as avenues of sharing news through modern means.
1.9.8 Perceptions of African-American Males
The term ‘perception of African-American males’ is closely related to the term ‘African-American criminal’ which, in essence, refers to the idea that the media plants in the minds of its audiences pertaining to the nature of African-American men. The media messages carried along modern and traditional media platforms are what comprise the understanding of the people based on the presentation of the American people at large about African-American men.
1.9.9 American Audience
The term ‘American Audience’ is associated with consumers of information and news specifically about instances of police brutality involving African-American men as either criminals or victims. Further, the term is also used to refer to content sharers and contributors especially on social media platforms to engage with one another in a debate surrounding issues associated with African-American crime and the impact of law enforcement in apprehending and containing the situation. Centrally, the term African-American audience is specifically associated with consumers of information and news about African-Americans involved in police shootings either as victims of perpetrators with respect to issues touching on police brutality against African-Americans in the United States.
2.0 Chapter 2: LITERATURE REVIEW
This section of the paper presents a review of literature detailing the history of African Americans in the United States. In essence, the chapter accounts for the gains that the Black community in the United States have strived to attain as regards to achieving equal status with White Americans.
2.2 The History of African-American Suffering
Literature advanced on the genesis of the torment of the African-American community in the United States dates back to the 17th century colonization of North America by Europe when the introduction of slavery took centre stage. At first, the colonization of the continent meant that Native Americans were captured and formed slaves for the European nations that had divided portions of North America as colonies (Siddiqui, 2016). However, propaganda in the press regarding the savage and blood thirsty nature of the Natives led to a blood bath massacre that left thousands of Natives dead. The number of slaves needed for the European colonialist to generate and maintain their wealth was fast diminishing. Consequently, the negative propaganda of the media about Native Americans is the fists sign of Agenda Setting and Framing Theories at play in what is modern day’s United States of America (Fredrickson, 2003). The consequences of the perceptions created about Native Americans at the time meant that Natives were feared and all Europeans were up in arms to annihilate the Natives from the continent. Fast forward to the 21st century Native Americans are the least minority group in terms of population density in the United States an attribute that can be traced back to the massacre of the Natives back in the 17th century. The killing of the Native Americans set precedence for the enslavement of Africans to replace dying Native American slaves. As such, slaves were imperative for the establishment and development of the American economy. To that extent, masters required slaves to ensure that their businesses thrived. And so it begun, the shipping industry in Europe begun making trips to capture slaves in Africa who were sold in America.
The history of the enslavement of the African people in North America can be traced to the 17th century when African men, women, and children were forcefully shipped to the shores of America to be enslaved. The Africans were stripped of their languages, culture, names, and traditions and forced to live under new identities in the foreign land. Families were separated through slave selling where slaves were treated like property to be sold off to any White man who would afford them. Most notably, slavery was a thriving practice in the Southern parts of the United States than in the North. Nonetheless, for the few Black Americans who were free in the North of the country their dark skin barred them from enjoying equal status with their White skinned counterparts. Laws were tailored towards advantaging White supremacist race where African Americans were barred from voting, owning property such as land, and gaining access to social amenities such as education (Limpkings, 2008).
Emancipation was eventually attained when slavery was abolished after the culmination of the Civil War. Laws banning slavery and freeing African-American slaves offered reprieve to the minority Black Americans who had known a life of servitude to be their experience since birth. A new dawn had arrived or was it all a façade? Despite the abolishment of slavery, African-Americans did not enjoy equal status with White people given that the laws were tailored to side-line and undermine the dignity and status of the Black man. People of the White race enjoyed superiority over their Black counterparts bringing forth the birth of Jim Crow laws (Chappel, 2004). Segregation in the United States led to the ill treatment of African-Americans where suffering witnessed by African Americans was not any different from the practice of slavery itself. Towards the turn of the 19th century activism took centre stage where the likes of Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Junior, and Malcolm X were notable Black people who drove the African-American community into championing for equal rights and opportunities as White populous. Consequently, African Americans achieved higher status when they were allowed to vote through amendment of legislations that assured Black people of rights and privileges such as those enjoyed by White supremacists. However, not even such achievements would bring to and end the racial profiling and discrimination that African Americans would endure dating to present time (Williams & Collins, 2001). Numerous instances of discrimination abound associated with the mistreatment of Black people by authorities. For instance, discrimination on employment, housing, business, and education spheres persist as Black people are treated to second class citizenship status when certain social amenities are concerned. Most notable and relevant to the case under study regards police brutality where the criminal justice system discriminately targets African-American males. The rate of incarceration as well as number of deaths arising from police shootings of African-Americans are sky rocketing. The African-American people continue suffering discrimination despite the numerous gains that they have achieved over the years towards emancipation and equality from slavery and oppression in the United States (Wilkes & Iceland, 2004).
2.2.1 The Jim Crow Laws
The Jim Crow Laws paint a grim picture of African-American suffering in the United States of America that came along after the emancipation of slavery. The genesis of the term ‘Jim Crow’ can be traced back to the 1830s when White actors performed on stage in Blackface as caricatures of African-American people. A popular song emerged during the same period that was dubbed ‘Jumping Jim Crow’ which was performed be renowned White actor Thomas D Rice (Woodward, 1974). Rice painted his face black and left his lips White to ridicule Negros. The term Jim Crow became a synonym for African-American. Consequently, when the Southern Confederate States passed laws geared towards segregation on racial foundations, the literature in news articles first published in The New York Times in 1892 used the term ‘Jim Crow Laws’ to describe the racial segregation legislation established in the South (Reublican Hopes Shattered; He Will Be "Professor' Harrison. Congressman Goodnight Very Sick. Louisiana's "Jim Crow" Law Valid. Mr. Pickering's Condition Improved, 1982).
History dating back to the 13th Amendment of the constitution that was profoundly discussed under the background section of the research report led to the Reconstruction era during the 1860s when the Northern Majority Republican government sent troops to the Southern States for the sole purpose of safeguarding the freedom rights and privileges of Freedmen in the South (Feldman, 2004). However, the Reconstruction era was not to last for long given that Democratic Party White Majority in the South slowly regained power and control over Southern governments towards the 1870s. Through the aid of militia groups that operated covertly to intimidate and frustrate efforts of the Northern Republican Party Government of ending segregation, outlawed groups such as ‘Red Shirts’ and ‘White Leagues’ were born. Eventually in 1877 the highly contested Gubernatorial post of Louisiana State was won by Democratic Party which then commenced to take control over the leadership of all southern states (Luke 10: 27, 2013). The ramifications of Democratic Control in Confederate States meant that the Southern States could pass legislation that is unique and befitting of their juxtaposition towards the status of African-Americans in the Southern States. Hence, the Jim Crow Laws were born officially segregating White people and Black people in the South. Although Blacks were allowed to vote and that several African-Americans were elected into office, the majority White legislature endeavoured to amend the laws in the south to restrict voting rights with the intent of locking African-Americans from voting (Woodward, 1974). Ridiculous policies such as poll taxes, illiteracy clauses, and grandfather clauses that individually locked out African-Americans of various categories from voting. For instance, the illiteracy clause required voters to be able to read and write in order for them to qualify whereas the grandfather clause required that one proves that their great grandfather voted for them to qualify as a voter. Each of the restrictions meant that individual African-Americans were limited by either one of the laws which then took away their voting privileges (Feldman, 2004).
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