OREO-5. Constructing the African American Drug Criminal in America

Patrick Dimasin1
Faculty Mentor: Levent Atici, Ph.D.2
1West Career and Technical Academy
2Division of Research, Office of Undergraduate Research

Historically, African American people have had an implicated relationship with the criminal justice system: higher arrest rates, higher conviction rates, and worse sentencing results are common, especially in drug-related crimes. In this study, I aim to identify the relationships of the social environments of participants in two categories, race and gender. Using the contact and threat hypothesis, I seek to analyze the correlation between positive and negative attitudes of “outgroup” individuals and the perception of what a “violent” criminal appears to be. Results from previous studies have affirmed that increased intergroup contact increases positive attitudes, but an increasing size of an ethnic outgroup increases the risk factor for negative attitudes like threat perception. Using a phenomenological foundation, I was able to conduct correlational research that found increased intergroup contact is more likely to lead to more “violent” perceptions of darker-skinned, male, drug-related criminals. These findings strongly suggest that threat hypothesis has a strong potential in controlling subconscious biases towards varying ethnic groups, and has a future in determining whether these findings hold true in other categories of crime. I suggest that if the threat hypothesis is true for public perception of criminals, then these results should provide a foundation for further inquiry of threat hypothesis’


Nov 15 - 19 2021


All Day


The Office of Undergraduate Research


The Office of Undergraduate Research


2 Replies to “OREO-5. Constructing the African American Drug Criminal in America”

  1. Hey Patrick,
    I feel as I have a lot to think about even with a short video! It was very well put together and easy to follow. I thought it was crazy to see that whites and blacks use the same amount of marijuana but African Americans are 3.71 times more likely to be punished. This clearly shows there is an issue of bias when it comes to the justice system from our officers to even our jury. As you mentioned, jury members can hold a biased on what race they see as violent based on their environment. This made me wonder if the selection of jury should be more attentive to making sure the environments of the jury are more spread out and diverse. This will definitely give people a better chance of a fair trial! Overall Great video!!!

  2. Hi Patrick!
    I really appreciate the parallels that you’ve drawn here as it’s been a long time pattern that goes relatively unacknowledged in the criminal justice system. As we’re currently witnessing via the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, our criminal justice system is working just as it was intended to. As a tool to keep and maintain white supremacy thriving within this country. The disparities that you’ve pointed out blatantly reflect the slights that have been sewn into our laws and societal beliefs. I applaud your study as it scratches the surface of the issue and raises questions that those in power don’t want us to answer. Great job!

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