Injustice: Interfacing Race and Class to Criminal Justice System
It would be a fallacy to deny the fact
that humans across the globe possess fundamental differences that render them
unique from one another. These differences relate to their distinct physical
features and structures such as skin color. However, despite this undeniable
truth, all humans are equal in their cognitive and psychological perspectives.
It would, therefore, be unfair and unjustifiable for some people to consider
themselves more superior than others and indeed use these beautiful variations
to classify humans into categories meant to portray some as inferior to others.
Individuals who classify humans into these categories and act on them to
dehumanize and discriminate against others advance humanity the greatest social
injustice that can ever be thought of. Besides the concern of racial
discrimination, humans have endeavored to classify humanity on the basis of
social classes. This is the notion that some people belong to the upper class,
middle as well as the lower class based on their attitudinal, behaviors as well
as economical orientations and abilities (Cook, 2006). Amazingly, both racial and class
discrimination has infiltrated even the way the criminal justice system ought
to work in the provision of justice equitably across all people. This paper
will be concerned with the extrapolation of racial and class discrimination
concerns and how the dynamics inherent interface with the criminal justice
As has been deduced, humanity variations
in their physical features have not been taken by humans to reflect the amazing
beauty of diversity just like it is portrayed by other living organisms.
However, instead, it has been taken as a basis of advancing petrifying human
social injustice to those thought to be of inferior orientation. All human
beings despite their physical manifestation are composed of similar
psychological makeup as well as cognitive abilities. This is the bottom line
that unites the whole of the humankind. Physical features, as well as the
places of origin of different kinds of people, should therefore not dictate or
propose that some are inferior while others are much superior.
Racial discrimination against people of
color by others has been in existence for quite a long time. This phenomenon
can intensely be connected as having had originated from industrial and
agricultural revolution in Europe as well as the transatlantic trade between
Europe, America, and Africa. During this period, many people, especially from
Africa, were shipped to America to work on plantations as slaves whose produce
was later shipped to Europe for further processing. Africans who would later
become African/Americans after America’s independence remained discriminated
upon on racial grounds and were only treated as slaves. As slaves to the rest
of the American majority population, African/Americans were subjected to forced
labor, were harshly mistreated, humiliated and dehumanized in all manner of
social injustices. In modern times today, these historical social injustices
have trickled the American society where this cruelty has taken new dimensions.
Besides the development of the social class phenomenon that interface with
racial discrimination to worsen the social status of African/Americans in the
pursuit of social justice is the unjust criminal justice system of America
(Walker et al 2000).
On the other hand, it is important to
understand that humans with their physical diversity are also not economically
endowed in a similar capacity because of diverse reasons. Moreover, their diversity
can further be revealed through the sociocultural norms, religion, literature,
cuisine and economic activities that they have practiced for centuries. This
can further pursue different orientations as modernization takes shape. With
this realization, it is not only dehumanizing but also discriminating to
classify people based their capacities and behaviors as either belonging to the
upper class or the lower class as a result of mare prejudice.
Social class discrimination, especially
on the basis of the economic endowment as well as its racial discrimination
counterpart, has been a menace for quite a long time. Its roots can be traced
in Europe where people were classified as either being members of the royal
family, nobles families to peasant farmers. Under this system, the families who
happened to be under the peasant farmers’ group happened to continuously be at
the mercy of their noble families and royal families counterparts for survival.
This phenomenon was extended to the rest of the world with the emergence of the
slave trade and the great transatlantic trade where people from Africa were
classified as just mare slaves. These historical classical social injustices
have trickled down to the modern 21st century, though in new perspectives. In the
modern days, people who happen to be more fortunate in life use this platform
to perpetuate social injustices to their less endowed counterparts (Jaynes,
Gerald & Robin 1989). In the
American society, this phenomenon can vividly be deduced from the viewpoint of
the criminal justice system in which case people that are thought of as being
of a higher class can perpetuate social injustices to their lower-class
counterpart and consequently get away with it under the protection of the
criminal justice system.
Both racialism and the classification of
people into classes only serve to perpetuate social injustice amongst the
minorities and those who are not well endowed economically to the benefit of
the majority of the population (Glover, 2009). The primary concern of such
social injustice is to create a permanent underclass that would continuously
serve to advance and meet the interest of those that consider themselves much
more superior. Racialism and classism have the effect of leaving those involved
with feelings of self-guilt, low self-esteem, anger, frustration and
loneliness. These concerns by extension may lead these individuals being
vulnerable to crime accusation and always being targeted by law enforcement
officers as potential criminals to all sorts of crimes. In American societies,
black/ African Americans have always fought this notion of being labeled as
potential criminals for quite a long time. However, as mentioned earlier, this
unjust labeling can only be associated with both societal racial discrimination
as well as social class discrimination upon them. The criminal justice system,
being part of the community has endeavored to connect and cultivate these
social injustices from the society viewpoints by always being skewed into
labeling black/ African Americans as criminals.
The criminal justice system is supposed
to advance fairness and justice across the board without any sort of
discrimination with regard to races as well as the so-called social classes. As
such, people from all manner of backgrounds and manifestations have an equal
right to access justice from the criminal justice system that is free and fair
to all (Vidales, 2010). Racialism, authority, status, power and the social
class of those seeking justice must not be used by the officials of the justice
system to circumvent the outcome of the criminal justice system. However, this
concept that nobody is above the law, despite it being noble, the reality to
its fulfillment usually lags far behind the rhetoric.
The criminal justice system has been
labeled as one of the systems whose institutions have sunk into institutional
racism and the classification of those seeking justice according to their
social class, status, influence, and authority. Proponents of this assertion
have pointed to statistics that prove this argument. Statistics show that black
people account for approximately 6% of the total national population but
surprisingly black people account for nearly half of the country’s prison
population or worse off at any point in time a third of US black men population
is continuously under the criminal justice control possibly in prison,
probation or parole. This stunning revelation of a disproportionately big
proportion of black people under criminal justice system is enough evidence that
the justice system is essentially racist from its outcome.
Though different scholars have
determined to explain race-crime differentials from different viewpoints, those
who have endeavored to focus on race-victimization association underscore
lifestyle and routine activities as the main facilitators of crime. Scholars
from this school of thought further assert that the convergence of the week
informal society controls, motivated lawbreakers as well as likely targets have
worked to place certain sections of the society including minorities at a
greater risk of victimization. Both persistent racial inequalities and grey
poverty that lead to life frustration among individuals considered to be of the
lower social class often lead to their delinquency as well as potential
aggression by the criminal justice system (Pattillo et al. 2004).
There is a tendency by the law
enforcement officials to label black people as just criminals just from their
racial orientation. Marsiglia and Kulis, (2009) contend that this racial bias
is compounded when by extension the society views the image of a criminal as
being an African American person. Moreover, the law enforcement officers
possess with themselves a considerable amount of discretion as to whom or where
to target for criminals making communities of color vulnerable to police raids.
On the contrary, white communities are often not viewed as potential criminals
but indeed they engage in criminal activities. However, the criminal justice
system is often quick to deny claims of discrimination besides being
consequently closed rather immediately. Reiman, (2007) observes that in
instances where the criminal justice system finds white criminals as having
indeed broken the law and puts them in prison with their black and Hispanic
counterparts, often time, these groups have one thing in common: poverty. The
only possible explanation for such a phenomenon is that the criminal justice
system discriminates based on the social classes, authority, and power of those
Racialism and classism should be
condemned with all efforts possible by jurisdictions across the globe. These
negative virtues are not only backward in the current modern times but also are
pose significant threats to social justice. People should learn to appreciate
other communities and tribes for who they really are with their physical
manifestations, cultural diversity as well as their economic endowment
(Crenshaw, 2011). The criminal justice system should endeavor to advance
justice to all people without any sort of discrimination based on their color,
economic status, social class, power or influence.
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