CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cooper on Hyper-Incarceration and Black Male Identity Performance

Cooper frank rudyFrank Rudy Cooper (Suffolk University Law School) has posted We Are Always Already Imprisoned: Hyper-Incarceration and Black Male Identity Performance (Boston University Law Review, Vol. 93, p. 1183, 2013) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Numerous scholars have pointed out that drug war racial profiling has created an attributed identity of black men as presumptively criminal. This essay points out that the possibility of being imprisoned has become fundamental to black men's self identities. It criticizes Hanna Rosin’s End of Men thesis for myopically emphasizing a recent decline in white men's power, while ignoring the drug war’s long-standing terrible effects on men of color. Supreme Court jurisprudence on strip searches shows a similar lack of empathy for men of color. Rosin and the Supreme Court are consistent with my theory of the, “bipolarity of black masculinity”: Black men are typically popularly represented as either a criminal “Bad Black Man” or assimilated “Good Black Man,” with little nuance in between. This essay adds that black men are not just represented as appropriately disproportionately imprisoned, but also must, therefore, struggle internally with the fear of being imprisoned. In that sense, we are always already imprisoned within black masculinity.

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