Deena Isom-Scott, assistant professor in African American Studies and Criminology and Criminal Justice, co-authored the article “Disentangling the roles of Negative Emotions and Racial Identity in the Theory of African American Offending.”
In the piece, published in the American Journal of Criminal Justice, Isom-Scott and her co-author Zachary Seal write, “critical criminologists posit that institutional racism pervades much of the infrastructure of the justice system today, affecting and influencing public policy and crime control decisions to the extent that race effectively becomes a stratified caste system.”
Isom-Scott said, “In this study, we examined if Black Americans experience different emotional reactions to everyday discriminatory encounters compared to discrimination from the police and if such experiences and emotions are linked to offending. We find police injustices are associated with increased feelings of anger, which in turn are associated with an increased likelihood of offending. However, we also find having a strong racial identity provides protection against the negative consequences of discriminatory encounters with the police. Our results highlight how Black Americans' unique lived experiences in our racially stratified society impact their pathways to and resilience against criminal behavior.”
Isom-Scott said their research consistently shows that discrimination is linked with a range of negative outcomes, including poor health, low graduation rates, lessens employment opportunities and even why people commit crimes.
“Offending is often what happens when people don’t have more positive outlets for coping with such experiences,” Isom-Scott said.
Yet, research is lacking on the differential effects of different types of discrimination, particularly between everyday encounters with strangers and discrimination from institutions and officials. Given the recent rise in Black people being killed by police, it is particularly vital to understand the difference in the experience and reactions to injustices from the police compared to everyday negative encounters with a store clerk or restaurant server.
Isom-Scott said, “We find while both types of discrimination are emotionally upsetting, injustices from the police lead to anger which is a known fuel for offending when other coping strategies are not available. But, also important, we discover having strong racial pride helps people cope with such negative experiences and reduces their likelihood of engaging in crime.”
Isom-Scott and Neal unpack not only how discrimination pushes black people towards offending, but shows conversely, how being proud of one’s race, makes one more resilient to such negative encounters.
“While our society stacks the odds against people of color, particularly black people, black culture pushes back against such adversity,” Isom-Scott said.
See Assist. Prof. Isom-Scott’s article HERE: