Sociological Studies’ Slippery Slope

Consult Hardesty suggests:

And this begs the question about the questions we ask when researching. Do we really think black people choose to live in higher-crime neighborhoods? That is, we believe they all have the chance to live on the right side of the tracks and send their kids to the good schools, but they choose to go to the other side and dodge bullets. No economic causation. No history. They just live in higher-crime neighborhoods. I just wonder how you even control for that in your research without rendering it not merely meaningless but laughable, inching towards insulting.

Yet again, though, “high-crime neighborhood” is another verbal and social construct. This seems like the serpent that bites its tail, but therein lays the problem.

Yes, it may seem quite simple, quite clear to see what a “high-crime neighborhood” is. Just look at the numbers! Oh, yes, sure. Let me look at the numbers. And I see a lot of policing of minor offenses transforming kids into criminals for one bad decision. I also see a different set of numbers. Those of my neighborhood. Those of the kids who do stupid things along with my own kids. Those kids with good family lawyers and with good police officers who have no intention of messing up the lives of “promising” kids for dealing and consuming drugs, having drinking parties, skipping school, driving while drunk without injuries beyond property, and a very long etcetera. I also know those kids are definitely not poor, and MOST DEFINITELY not black. I know the parents: doctors, lawyers, think-tankers, researchers, government workers. We have commiserated about our children’s stupidity. We have even remembered our own youthful indiscretions – “oh, you know, things were so different then!”

Like, for one example, the president of the student body of Grant High School being currently in prison for a string of armed robberies.

I was there: that is, I was a full-time employee on the staff of Grant High School. The principal allowed this criminal to verbally insult the mother of the security guard in his election speech. Not only was the power not pulled (I’m okay with speakers being let finish), but he was not disqualified from the election: his father was a high-powered lawyer. I remember David Lickey, who teaches still, describing the speech as “brilliant” that day in the teachers’ lounge because the now-convicted-of-armed-felonious-assault, but at the time just another privileged kid, won the election.

About M. Meo

Worked as translator, museum technician, truck lumper, lecture demonstrator, teacher (of English as a Second Language, science, math). Married for 25 years, 2 boys aged 18 & 16 (both on the Grant cross-country team). A couple of scholarly publications in the history of science. Two years in federal penitentiary, 1970/71, for refusing the draft.
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