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75 of 79 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2010
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. Interestingly, Professor Muhammad points out the fact that those same conditions existed in large cities in Europe from which the immigrants originated without those similar patterns of migration, though no policy formers took the leap of thought that these immigrants brought these problems with them. Considering the large-scale criminalization of African Americans in northern urban areas, the eventual concentration of white criminal activity in predominantly black areas, the exclusion of black Americans from access to social services and education, it is a testament to strength of character of these individuals who were able to survive (and in subsequent generations thrive) in such an openly hostile environment. The author carefully and accurately links the roots of the current issues urban areas face today, particularly in regards to crime, with the policies set in place in the 19th century. The Condemnation of Blackness is a must read for anyone who is interested in the roots of the issue of disproportionately high incarceration rates of African Americans and for those who seek understanding of this issue through the lens of critical analysis of data rather than merely using data to implement flawed decision making . In this sense, The Condemnation of Blackness serves as both a sociological study as well as a historical reference.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2010
"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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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2012
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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35 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2011
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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2012
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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2013
This is not a work that can be intellectualized by its title, nor is it a book that can be deduced by its cover. Reading the title, The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime,the Making of Modern Urban America, does not describe the work that Kahlil Gibran Muhammad has accomplished,to bring about this book. Reading the title, The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America, does not give you a sense of the detailed information you will be receiving as you turn the 373 pages, notes included, nor does it give you the new perspective of the historical relationship between the development of race and crime in the United States of America. I think for those interested in understanding how the image of the African American as criminal came about and developed, The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America is a must read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 2014
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2013
Muhammad's book is so critical in understanding America's modern racial history because it unearths so much of what makes up "common sense" on the matter. Having grown up in an allegedly post-racial, middle-class suburb, I was shocked to recall making many of the fallacious, dubiously sourced statements that Muhammad catalogs in this work. Muhammad does a good job in citing sources and making a book about statistics engaging, but I wish he would have spent more space on white ethnic crime, which serves as the counterpoint to how the "scientific" rhetoric around black criminality began. This was a great book that I will definitely revisit and share with friends and students alike.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2012
It's important for each generation of any people to know of the struggles of the past. My mom was in the March on Washington, I was part of College Discovery, so now my son has a compilation of the struggle, composed by a man who has overcome, but does not forget. Thank-you.
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on June 8, 2015
Excellent historical detail focusing mostly on the "progressive" side of social science and social reformers 1880-1920, showing that white reformers saw the crime rates of white immigrants as a reason to provide social programs and education to uplift them, but saw comparable crime rates among blacks as being due to their race and a justification for segregation and discrimination. The history of sociology and social statistics is very useful. There is also good coverage of black scholars and reformers, who were more likely to view black crime the way whites viewed white crime, i.e. as a real problem that was best dealt with by social programs, but black reformers never had the resources white reformers had, and white reformers often refused to help needy black people. Also discussion of the ways in which whites used black writing about crime problems as a justification for their (whites') anti-black sentiments.It all sounds eerily contemporary, and helps to locate today's discussions in a long historical context.
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