The following excerpt is from "Black on Black Violence. The Psychodynamics of Black Self-annihilation in Service of White Domination." By Amos Wilson. Available [HERE]
Black American criminality whether in its individual or subgroup form, is a microcosmic reflection of the macrocosmic American system and beyond that, of the system of European global domination. The intrapsychic motivational orientation of the Black American individual or subgroup is driven and structured by the nature of his or its social-political, ecological encounters with European Americans and Europeans in general. These encounters are not ones between equals, nor are they ones characterized by mutual respect and reciprocity. These frontiers of disparate intergroup encounter are the nodal points at which both Black criminals and Black "law-abiding" citizens are produced. They are both Eurocentric creations as are the nature and quality of their social relations and functions. In this context, the Black American criminal is "law-abiding," obeying the laws of the Eurocentric criminalization process. Black criminality is not accidental, coincidental or aberrant, but speaks to an apparent need in the White American community to induce criminality in a significant proportion of the Black American community, as well as its need to perceive African Americans as innately criminal, just as it exhibits the related need to perceive the average African American as innately intellectually inferior.
The Criminalization of the Black Male
In light of the foregoing and of the forthcoming, we must recognize that within limits, alleged Black crime is socioeconomically functional for the White American status quo and is ultimately symptomatic of the societal "needs" of powerful segments of the American class structure and of its dysfunctionality. In this context, we must ask and answer the following questions: Why do White Americans need to criminalize significant segments of the African American population? What is the socio political function of alleged African American criminality and self-destructive behavior in American society? How does alleged Black American criminality sustain the American status quo? How is "criminal motivation" induced into the personalities and social relations of some African Americans and for what reasons? While the scope of this book will not allow us to adequately deal with these questions, they must be answered and the answers pragmatically utilized if the alleged criminality, self-destructive-ness, and victimization of African Americans are to be eradicated in the Black American communities.
The rates of Black-on-Black homicidal violence, assault and victimization, though biased and inaccurate, are alarming. The percentages cited in the prior chapter say something ominously significant, not only about the collective character of Black America, but all the more so about the collective character of White America., The percentages in the prior chapter have been used by a very significant and influential proportion of White America to stereotypically assassinate the character of the collective African personality in general, and to indict the Black American male as innately criminal in particular.
In the eyes of White America, an exaggeratedly large segment of Black America is criminally suspect. This is especially true relative to the Black American male. In the fevered mind of White America he is cosmically guilty. His guilt is existential. For him to be alive is to be suspected, to be stereotypically accused, convicted and condemned for criminal conspiracy and intent. On the streets, in the subways, elevators, parks, in the "wrong" neighborhood, from late childhood to late adulthood, he is feared, suspiciously scrutinized, cautiously approached or warily avoided.
To be a sensitive Black male, no matter how innocent, law-abiding, all-American, patriotic, altruistic, and loving, is to see the dilated pupils of fear in White women's and old men's eyes, to witness the defensive clutching at pocketbooks, to see yourself reflected in the mirrors of the other's eyes as a mugger, thief, and rapist. To be a perceptive Black male is to look out at an accusative world and feel oneself the object of a suspicious ocular examination by trigger-happy policemen, to have your papers checked by security personnel while your White counterpart passes the checkpoint without question. To be a Black male is to have your integrity chronically under question, to always have to somehow verbally or nonverbally, communicate convincing reasons for being where you are if you are not in your "place." Only the carefully presented facade, the meticulous expression of nonaggressive, nonassertive body language, the representation of a carefully managed nonthreatening persona, or old age; only standardized, "non-Black" dress, standardized English, averted eyes intently focused on the leading newspaper, magazine, or book can alleviate to some tolerable degree the fears and suspicions / of others. But this diminution of fear and suspiciousness in others bought at the too-high price of self-annihilation, is always tentative, delicate, and is easily rent by the smallest misstep or the tiniest deviation.
Given the historical and contemporary virulence of White racism in America and the injustice toward Blacks that such racism engenders, the number of arrests, incarcerations, and in many instances, convictions of Black males should be viewed with a jaundiced eye. The willingness of White Americans to heavily tax themselves in order to finance accelerated and increased prison construction, rapidly expanding police forces and so-called criminal justice system personnel, burgeoning private police and security establishments; their willingness to finance the incarceration of a Black male prisoner upwards of $30,000 to $40,000 per year, in sharp contrast to their unwillingness to tax themselves to provide for the appropriate funding of the education of Black children and to commit themselves to the ending of racist employment practices; to provide adequate housing medical care, food and clothing; clearly implies that alleged Black male criminality plays a very important role in defining the collective White American ego and personality.
The typical White American response to the so-called criminality of the Black male when closely examined, clearly indicates that it is more consistent with a conscious and unconscious need to instigate and sustain Black criminality as a highly visible and publicized component of American society, than with a yearning to reduce its destructive influence on both Black and White societies. White America needs an expressly "hyped" Black American criminality the way a neurotic patient needs his symptoms, despite his protests to the contrary. In other words, the existence of Black American criminality, alleged and actual, is a political-economic, social-psychological necessity for maintaining White American psychical and material equilibrium. Black American criminality apparently serves fundamental Eurocentric psychopolitical needs and is engendered and sustained for this reason. We will now examine some of these needs.
White American Paranoia
To look at the world or a segment of it with a rigid, hyper-alert, and all-consuming expectation — to search reality repetitively only for confirmation of one's suspicions while ignoring aspects of that reality which disconfirm those suspicions; to pay no attention to opposing rational arguments, cogent, well-founded evidence, except to find in them only those features that seem to confirm one's original views; to examine reality with extraordinary prejudice, rejecting facts, information and alternative possibilities while seizing on and exaggerating any scintilla of often irrelevant evidence that supports one's original expectations — denotes a driven need: a psychoneurotic, psychopathological need to defend an ego perilously in danger of disintegration and to defend it regardless of cost to oneself and others. Such a suspicious and paranoid orientation speaks to the need to rigidly construct and control reality so as to maintain self-control, to empower the ego and to gainfully exploit a relevant situation. This rigidity of attention, stereotypical viewing of the world; this chronic condition of hyper-alertness, hypersensitivity; this need to create the world according to one's own deluded images, to subject others to one's paranoid views, to exploitatively have them serve that need, bespeaks the greater need to gain ego satisfaction and enhancement, self-definition and material gain through manipulating the behavior and consciousness over others. Paradoxically, this greater need bespeaks a fundamental dependency on a world and others and simultaneously, of a protest against and denial of that dependency. It expresses an ego vulnerability which must remain defensively hidden, an ego weakness which must appear to itself and others as strength, an extremely tense, unstable ego whose tenuous equilibrium can only be maintained by projecting that tension and vulnerability into the world and others. Thus the keeper of law comes to need the outlaw. And needing him, creates him. The keeper of the disturbs the peace by projecting hallucinated hostile threats where they do not exist.
That the White American must see virtually every Black male as criminal or as a potential criminal regardless of facts to the contrary, bespeaks an intense psychic need of White America to perceive him as such.
What does White America have to gain from choosing to perceive Black males as stereotypically criminal? By socio-psychologically inducing Black males into criminality? Following the trend of thought set forth by Michael Lewis in his book, The Culture of Inequality, alleged Black male criminality is a comfort to White America despite its protestations to the contrary. Alleged Black criminality, while evoking White American fear and loathing, reassures them of their vaunted self-worth, their assumed innately superior moral standing, of their selfcongratulatory self-constraint in contrast with presumed Black American unworthiness, innate inferior moral standing, inherent criminality, lack of self-constraint and self-control. White America's self-appreciation is enhanced as it insatiably feeds on overblown reports about Black criminality while denying its own incomparable criminal record, and its own racist-imperialist incubation and giving birth to the very same criminal forces which now threaten to destroy it.
Black criminals function as a negative reference group vital to maintaining the White American self-image. The Black criminal is used to support the White American community's self-serving, self-justifying judgments of itself. White America's preoccupation with Black criminality betrays its own need for reassurance; betrays its own basic insecurity regarding its projected moral purity. Consequently, the higher the incidence of reported Black criminality, the more exceptionally righteous White America feels itself to be. The more righteous it feels itself to be the more intensely and guiltlessly it promulgates and justifies its domination and exploitation of African peoples at home and abroad. The alleged innate criminality of Black America, particularly of Black males, and their actual high level of self-destructive criminality remain incontrovertible psycho-political necessities if the White American-Eurocentric culture of inequality is to be self-justifiably continued without end. In the context of this collective necessity, more Blacks are arrested, charged, tried, convicted, and sentenced to longer prison terms for allegedly committing the same type of crimes as Whites. Many are arrested, charged, tried, convicted and sentenced to long prison terms merely for committing the crime of being Black in America.
The White American community's need to stereotypically perceive Blacks as innately criminal, coupled with its socioeconomic power to control the availability of resources and their renumerative allocation, confers on it the power of creating or controlling circumstances conducive to the satisfaction of its hegemonic requirements. Under these circumstances, the need of the collective White ego to project an image of endemic Black criminality in order to maintain its power status quo, is tantamount to the creation of Black criminality, particularly of the self-destructive kind.
The Black Male as Potential Rebel
Whether as the result of acculturation or of innate biological propensities, when a community perceives itself to be the object of oppression or perceives its vital institutions and members to be at risk such that decisive actions must be taken, the males traditionally undertake leadership of the resistance. Males and the bonding between them in coalition with their female counterparts, form the backbone of a viable society. Significant males are essential to a community's intra-dependence, structure, social coherence, continuity, viability, adaptability, self-defense and liberation from oppression and exploitation. Traditionally, the male component of an exploited community is seen by its exploiters, who themselves are usually males, as by temperament and biological/cultural endowment, the most likely to take up arms both psychosocially and/or materially against its oppressors. Consequently, oppressors typically target the male component of the oppressed community for relatively more intense repression, containment, imprisonment, humiliation, emasculation, sociopolitical-economic discrimination, personality assassination, and various forms of physical eradication. The neutralization of an oppressed community's males by the destruction of their character, authority and credibility, allows an oppressor to override that society's territorial and institutional imperatives and exposes it to unrestrained, rapacious domination and exploitation.
Consequently, the institutional and organizational integrity of the oppressed community becomes dysfunctional or nonfunctional and the community is thereupon destructively exploited by aliens and/or is left to self-destruct. Emasculated males under such circumstances may become unwitting allies to, and vehicles of, the genocide and suicide of their community. These eviscerated, uprooted males may inadvertently become instruments of oppression by preying on their own community, thwarting its viable interests instead of defending them. Thus, the psychological disarmament of male resistance results in the destructive exploitation of the community against which that male resistance would ordinarily fight.
The psychopolitical need of White America to dominate Black America in a variety of ways requires that it neutralizes by any means necessary, any type of Black male empowerment, actual or potential, which may threaten its hegemony. Two of these means involve the criminalization of the Black male and of the Black community in general. The criminalization of the Black male by White America immensely enhances its psychocultural and material advantages. Criminalization of the Black male and the African American community in general by the White American community, psychopolitically benefits the latter community in a myriad of ways including the following:
Justification of the proscription of the liberties African peoples through continuing oppression, denial of civil and other human rights, and justification of racial discrimination and segregation.
Justification of the power status quo by utilizing the alleged criminality of the Black community to rationalize severe police repression, social and employment discrimination, restriction of African American political activity and empowerment, civil liberties, constitutional guarantees of individual and communal self-defense, and self-definition.
Facilitation of White American economic control of the African American community by frustrating and removing potential economic competition from the exploited African American community by denying it access to economic
resources, distorting and thwarting its economic developmental potentials. This economic control effectively neutralizes the ability of the African American community to lead the worldwide African community in challenging worldwide Eurocentric politicoeeonomic hegemony.
• Provision of rationalizations for a collective White American preemptive strike against feared African economic, cultural, and more importantly, military parity — by aggressively attacking its potentiality on the ground through the self-serving manipulation, constriction, and undermining of the political, educational, economical, cultural institutions as well as experiences important for African American self-development and independence.
• Creation of interpersonal/intragroup fear, suspicion, mistrust, violence, and lack of self-respect within the Black community, enabling destabilizing and destructive forces to vitiate its corporate identity, cohesive unity, and its ability to benefit from its own wealth and protect its autonomous liberty. This mission is most efficiently accomplished and sustained if the created fears, etc., appear to flow from factors culturally endemic to the African community and reflective of the supposed inferior personality propensities innately characteristic of African peoples.
• Creation of "social service" and "criminal justice" industries. The "criminal justice" system is best understood as a multi-billion dollar industry wherein the African American male is utilized as its basic raw material, the processing and the "refining" of which provides income for White families, vendors, construction firms, professionals, law and security enforcement agencies. Thus, alleged Black male criminality plays an important vital economic role in many White American communities. For this reason it is highly unlikely that these communities will seriously commit themselves to rectification of those social conditions which instigate and sustain alleged Black criminality and to the negation of those systematic injustices which underpin a White-controlled penal/economic fiefdom.
• Justification for the atrocities it historically, currently, and in the future shall continue to perpetuate against the American African community. By ascribing an inherent criminality to African peoples just as it ascribes to these same peoples an alleged inherent intellectual inferiority, the White American community can, through ego-defensive projection and other ego defense mechanisms, deny its role in creating, maintaining, and benefitting from the negative condition of the African American community, and of African people in general.
• Provision of an underpinning for White communal self-definition, self-image, ego-support, self-aggrandizement and positive self-feeling by elevating itself while denigrating African peoples, vicariously enjoying their relative deprivation, alleged depravity, and visible subordination. The absence of perceived African inferiority in all its varieties would bring into question the illusory European superiority complex, destroy European self-confidence and related rationales for the hegemonic domination and exploitation of African peoples in America and abroad.
A perceived high level of Black criminal activity, especially if confined to the African American community, provides both primary and secondary gains for the White American collective ego complex. Therefore, any program which can effectively erase the criminal image of the Black male and reduce his self-destructive criminality will most likely not be forthcoming from the White community despite its pretensions to the contrary. Moreover, any effective crime control programs instituted by the African American community (the place from which any effective program must issue or gain substantial support) will be by deliberate design, stealth, or neglect, targeted for neutralization by an apparently "well-meaning" White community.