Thereare many areas in the movie Boyz N theHood where societal reactions andlarger social forces are imposed upon the lower class communities. In the movie, these reactions can be seen withinthe school setting, during the meeting with the University representative, whenFurious’ speaks in front of the billboard, and in Ricky and Tre’s encounter with the policeofficer. These societal reactions canlead to negative stigma, which evidently labelsthe black communities as deviant and born criminals. In the beginning of the film, Tre is singled out in front of hisclassmates for interrupting the class, when he is asked to come teach theclass.
Tre does as he is told; however, he loses his temper when anotherclassmate and his white middle-class teacher interrupt him. The teacher then calls Tre’s mother and questions her education and employment. Tre’s motheris offended by this, and responds in anger that she is in fact employed and thatshe is working on completing a master’s degree. The fact that Tre is a blackAfrican American man living in a lower class community, stigmatizes him and hismother even though they are higher functioning andwell adjusted people. Becker(1963) further explains when he states, “social groups create deviance bymaking the rules whose infractions constitute deviance and by applying thoserules to particular people and labeling them as outsiders (as cited in Williams& McShane, 2018: 95).
Next, when Ricky and the University representative meet at Ricky’s middle-class home, therepresentative makes an assumption when he asks “Is that your little brother”(Singleton, 1991). When Ricky replies that the baby is his son,the University professor appears shocked to learn about this. Because of this circumstance, Ricky is at risk of being viewed andtreated differently by middle-class citizens. This could even affect his statusand social position on the football team, as well as how his teammates andcoaches treat him. For instance, theymay question his commitment to the football team or they may also conclude thatRicky had a troubled past. Moreover, societal reactions tolower class people are demonstrated on a bill board that says, Cash for your home. Seoul to Seoul Reality.Tre and Ricky are subjected Furious’powerful speech, where he proclaims that these messages serve to encourage aprocess of gentrification.
He explainsthat the middle to upper-class power holders use this type of media in attemptto move black marginalized people out of their neighbourhoods. In a related biological and psychological positivism discussion on this topic, White & al. (2013), claim that there areassumptions of “false positives – bringing under suspicion people who areinnocent simply because they match certain personality traits or live in acertain area” (White & al., 2013: 63).
This idea servesto further stigmatize and even criminalize black communities by association. Asproclaimed in Furious’ speech, therole of the upper class in promoting crime is ignored. For example, the fact that they were openinggun stores, liquor stores, and importing drugs for the purpose of eugenics is downplayed. Moreover, Tre and Ricky’s encounterwith the police officer after their confrontation with the rival gang (CrenshawMafia) further reinforces the negative labels that are attached to them.
Despitetheir minimal involvement with the incident they are immediately targeted andaccused. The African American policeofficer argued that, “all you young black guys think you’re so tough… you’reprobably one of those Crenshaw boys” (Singleton, 1991). This officer assumedthat these young men were deviant because of their association with a labeledgroup and the violent circumstance in which they were involved. Williams and McShane would hypothesize that this officer’s reaction “servesto separate those acts that are deviant from those that are not, even thoughthey may appear as identical behaviours” (Williams & McShane, 2018: 95). After the incident, Tre and Ricky have aprofound discussion and admit that they want to eliminate the labels andnegative stigmas; they even plan on opening a business with the hope of movingup the social hierarchy. This also demonstrates their hope of reachingthe expectations required in the middle class standards.