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The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America Paperback – December 30, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (December 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674062116
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674062115
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

[A] brilliant work that tells us how directly the past has formed us. (Darryl Pinckney New York Review of Books 2012-05-24)

This rich and absorbing history forcefully reveals how putatively objective social knowledge created tight links between color and criminality. Thoughtfully comparing representations of white immigrants and African Americans, Muhammad vividly establishes how a racial, and racist, 'scientific' discourse combined with the misuse of statistics to influence the patterning of blame, promote white fear, justify uneven policing and discriminatory justice, and block recognition of the deep structural roots of poverty and crime. (Ira Katznelson, author of When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America)

Muhammad's book renders an incalculable service to civil rights scholarship by disrupting one of the nation's most insidious, convenient, and resilient explanatory loops: whites commit crimes, but black males are criminals. With uncommon interpretive clarity and resourceful accumulation of data, the author disentangles crime as a fact of the urban experience from crime as a theory of race in American history. This is a mandatory read. (David Levering Lewis, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of W.E.B. Du Bois)

An impressive and important book that could not have appeared at a better time. The mass incarceration of poorly educated black and Hispanic men has become a principal instrument of social policy in the United States in recent decades. In this exquisitely argued book, Muhammad illuminates the social, political, and cultural roots of this phenomenon. In my opinion, this is the most significant work in the study of race and American society to have appeared in the past decade. (Glenn C. Loury, author of The Anatomy of Racial Inequality)

A dazzling study that illuminates a great deal about the social construction of black criminality. Muhammad does a superb job of explicating the role that social scientists, journalists, and reformers played in creating the idea of the black criminal and sustaining racial inequality. This important book is a vital contribution to our understanding of the role of racism in American society. (Aldon D. Morris, author of The Origins of the Civil Rights Movement)

Muhammad simultaneously captures, both in the realm of ideas and in the lived experiences of urban African Americans, the oppressive weight of enduring racialized crime scares and of social policies based on benign neglect. A brilliant, critically important study. (David R. Roediger, author of How Race Survived U.S. History)

About the Author

Khalil Gibran Muhammad is Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library and Associate Professor of History, Indiana University.

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Customer Reviews

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He gave a excellent review of the content in his book.
Donald Burrell
Mr. Muhammad presents a cogent discussion about the beginning of the criminalization of African Americans.
Phyllis Banks Cook, Urban Educator
There is also reason to doubt that most could even comprehend it.
dorse

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

65 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Alan D. Brazil CPA on May 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Condemnation of Blackness is a painstakingly researched narrative on the formation of social policy in the urban north rooted in a double-standard applied to African-Americans as opposed to immigrants of European descent, which attributed challenges faced by African Americans to their so-called innate traits to the exclusion of other factors such as employment opportunities, educational disparities and housing segregation rooted in racism. Khalil Muhammad presents a compelling discourse on the historical roots of this policy which appeared to rely more on the racial bias of its progenitors than careful analysis of the other factors contributing to then-named "Negro Problem". Dr. Muhammad's assessment beginning from the 1890 census, the inception of the Progressive Era , through the 1940s, is rooted in factual presentation of the ideas and to a certain extent the biases of the influencers of social policy with respect to African Americans. He highlights the extent to which effort was made to integrate foreign-born immigrants into society while simultaneously excluding black Americans, often rationalizing such behavior by attributing the "waste" in investing resources such as education in African Americans. These same framers of public policy decreed that the challenges of urban life for European immigrants could be addressed through social intervention, placing the blame for rampant crime, unemployment and out of wedlock births on the inherent ills of overcrowded metropolises such as New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia as a result of mass migrations to these population hubs.Read more ›
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By ChuckSproull on July 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Condemnation of Blackness" is a well-documented book and a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the separate and combined influences that Afro-Americans and Whites had in making of present day urban America. Dr Muhammad is very objective and analytical in his ability to scan back and forth across the broad array of positive and negative influences, and describe all the many factors during each decade since the abolition of slavery. He shows how on one hand, initial limitations made blacks seem inferior, and various forms of white prejudice made things worse. But on the other hand, when given the same education and opportunities, there are no differences between black and white achievements and positive contributions to society. Indiana University students are very fortunate to have Dr Muhammad as a History Professor.
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33 of 41 people found the following review helpful By yusuf on March 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dear Amazon and readers, The book entitled "The Condemnation of Blackness" is by far the book of the year for me. Nothing else need be read during these trying times. It is awakening, informative and true. All you need to do is look at the source material used if you doubt what he says and look at the historical results / effects politically and socially and economically. The history review of past leaders was an amazing breath of fresh air as well.

Thank you to the author..!!!!!!!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Read-A-Lot on October 23, 2012
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I'm a big enthusiast for history books that inform the present by examining the past. This is such a book! I was grabbed right from the introduction, on page 1, when the question is asked, "How was the statistical link between blackness and criminality initially forged?" Many ignore or are ill-informed about such a link. You hear today a lot of talk about "black-on-black" crime. Once you understand the history of linking blackness to criminality, and this book will cement that comprehension you will no longer, or SHOULD no longer engage in the ever so popular conversation of "black criminality."

You will hear black commentators weighing in on the black criminal problem, and often use the same refrains that whites used in the 1920's and 30's. The author notes, '"the numbers speak for themselves" was one frequent refrain, followed by "I am not a racist."' So, Khalil Muhammad does an excellent job of getting to the root of black crime rhetoric using anecdotal history along with evidence of the evolution of crime reporting and statistics. Often, people think verbiage and concepts come out of a vacuum, that is why this book is important, it debunks that nonsense.

If you want to be informed about how Blacks came to be condemned concerning the issue of criminality, then this is a must read. If you want to engage and challenge the "intelligent" pundits, do not hesitate in purchasing this thorough volume. It really illuminates the players in the drama of creating the idea of the black criminal.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Catharine L. Tyler on October 18, 2012
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This comprehensive and painfully moving  journey into the mindset of entrenched racism that perpetuated oppression of African-Americans, especially as they tried to survive in Northern urban areas, between the Civil War and World War II, reveals the underpinnings of institutional racism as it exists today.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By michael e. covington on March 21, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I came across this book as a result of a column by Ta-Naheisi Coates. I am a lover of the African American disaspora. I've not been able to make much progress through this book because I spend too much time being awed by statements written by the author. The book's subject makes it a hard read emotionally, but, the book is well written and has tons of references.
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