The crime of interest is homicide perpetrated against whites by non-whites. Homicide is a crime of interest mainly because of its brutality and also because it is a relatively dependable measure of all violent crimes. It is also easy to measure homicide with accuracy and preciseness compared to other crimes. In the United States, the rate of homicides perpetrated against whites is low compared to homicides perpetrated against blacks. Data from the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics indicate that homicide victimization of whites has been constant between 1976 and 2005. Specifically, the number of homicide victims among the whites has been below 10 per 100,000 populations between 1976 and 2005.
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Contrary to expectations, the majority of homicide incidents are intra-racial. 86 percent of all homicide victims were murdered by fellow whites. The circumstances under which homicides take place also differ from race to race. Among the whites, the greatest number of homicides (84.6%) takes place at the workplace followed by sex-related homicides (66.9%), gang-related homicides (57.5%), felony murders (54.7%), arguments (48.6%), and lastly drug-related homicides (37.4%). The majority of homicide victimization of the whites is done through poison (80.6%) followed by arson (58.9%) and lastly guns (47.2%) (Gabbidon 83).
The concept of whiteness is useful in explaining anti-white homicides. Although only 14 percent of homicide victimization of whites is committed by non-whites, several theories such as the interracial contact hypothesis and macro-structural opportunity theory have been introduced to explain inter-racial crimes. These theories assert that inter-racial hate crimes take place in communities in which the whites and non-whites comprise an almost equal portion of the population.
This in turn increases the opportunity for inter-racial contact and inter-racial conflicts (Lyons 383). But why do such conflicts occur? Why can’t the non-whites and whites cohabit peacefully? The concept of whiteness helps answer these questions. First and foremost, whiteness is viewed in a positive light such as prestige and power whereas non-whiteness is viewed in a negative light, for instance, laziness and inferiority.
This dichotomy is embedded in the social fabric of American society and is witnessed in both public and private areas such as the workplace and educational institutions. White people have better jobs, higher income levels, and have better educational opportunities. Therefore, when whites and non-whites live together in a community, there is likely to be inter-racial conflicts between these racial groups. Anti-white hate crimes can therefore be viewed as an attack on what the whites represent and possess which the non-whites lack and will never have because of their skin color.
The concept of whiteness in the criminal justice system is also evidenced by the incidents of the death penalty. Although the majority of homicides committed are intra-racial, special focus is usually given by juries in inter-racial homicides and especially if the homicides are perpetrated by blacks against whites. In such cases, it is more common for juries to give the death penalty to the offenders. In addition, the majority of juries that give such verdicts are usually all-white juries. Indeed, the majority of death penalty trials involve a black person and a white victim, white judges, an all-white jury, and white prosecutors. As a result, non-whites are underrepresented not only in injuries but also in the entire criminal justice system (Heilbrun 167).
Gabbidon, Shaun. Criminological perspectives on race and crime. London: Taylor & Francis, 2010.
Heilbrun, Alfred. Disordered and deviant behavior: learning gone awry. New York: University Press of America, 2004.
Lyons, Christopher. “Defending Turf: Racial demographics and hate crime against Blacks and Whites.” Social Forces 87.1 (2008): 357-385.