The Criminal Identity

Criminality has been associated with people of color since our country was born. It is a phenomenon wildly perpetuated by the media, creating an unconscious racial bias shown towards people of color. Scholars, activists, and voices of Black/Latino communities have spoken and published written work challenging this discourse; a discourse that has progressively impacted communities of color over time, and remains a point of contention among the American people at large. For non ethnic individuals, the emotional and physical harm that can result in being unjustly treated as a criminal on the basis of skin color will never be understood. However, for Black/Latino members of society, especially those who reside in the ghetto, the affect associated with being wrongly viewed as a criminal is profound.

We live in an era in which the innovation of technology is proliferating and granting us more affordances. An example of this is the camera, and how it has given police enforcement the affordance to create a database of criminal and their physical traits. So what? What does this entail? Well it becomes a big problem when police officers are filling the database with people of color, Black and Latino. The causality is that they’re creating the criminal identity and it’s becoming detrimental to communities with majority Black and Latino people. It is also creating a public of people who adopt the ideology and subconsciously associate criminality with all, if not, most people of color.


Mel Hogan mentions in his article, Data is Unborn, he touches on the topic of surveillance; he writes, ” ‘Soft surveillance,’ a term coined by Gary T. Marx (2005), explains that contrarily to (‘hard’) interventions that require coercion and threat, a ‘soft’ counterpart to surveillance involves persuasion and pervasiveness, that is, a sense of participating voluntarily, and an understanding that the practice is widespread rather than focused on an individual. In this way, we are in cahoots with the apparatus that labors to surveil us.”(Hogan pg2). Hogan is saying that we’re always being watched whether we like it or not. Its coercion and consent, and it’s scary to know that people of color who have been processed in court and have had their retina scanned, can be found any where in NYC. It’s like we’re being kept at a close watch. Speaking first person because I’ve been processed and had my retina scanned. There was no way out. I had to do it in order to see the judge. “Coercion and Consent”.

I’d like to also mention the issue of representation in media. Why is it that Black and Latino people get vigorously slandered in news platforms when informing the masses of crime? Why don’t White people get the same press? These are questions that I hope to answer throughout my journey. In The Transmission of Affect, by Teresa Brennan, she writes “It is all very well to think the ideas or thoughts a given subject has are socially constructed, dependent on culture, times, and social groups within them.” (Brennan pg2) We should take this into account when thinking about the affect of the community that comes from constantly seeing images on the screen of crimes committed by people of color; as if it’s only people of color who are committing the crimes.w2p8

The focus areas for my project are Tremont, Burnside, Fordham, and Riverdale, in the Bronx, NY.

Articles mentioned – Teresa Brennan, The Transmission of Affect & Mel Hogan, Data Is Inborn

~ RocketG6



~ by rocketg6 on September 25, 2018.