Date of Degree

6-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor(s)

Hester Eisenstein

Subject Categories

Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Psychology

Keywords

Intersectionality, implicit bias, stereotype, mass incarceration, education

Abstract

Racial minorities are disproportionately imprisoned or sent to jail for reasons including racial profiling, unfair drug laws, and a biased judicial system. Black men are often subject to unwarranted searches and stop-and-frisks. These are meant to protect neighborhoods from criminal activity, when in fact they are often used to target people of color in destitute neighborhoods. Some scholars argue that a lot of differential treatment towards Black men stems from automatic thought processes, or implicit biases on the part of law enforcement officers. These are seen as unconscious and instilled by societal stigmas, rather than the result of careful deliberations. The intersectionality of being both Black and being a woman can give rise to discrimination, and yet research shows that generally, Black women seem to fare better than Black men. However, even though Black women have the propensity to attend and graduate college at a higher rate than their male counterparts, they are still underrepresented in academia. I plan to explore why Black men are so often behind bars, whereas Black women are thriving within society, and how intersectionality affects that. Although it is futile to rank experiences of persecution when discussing oppression of any kind, one can’t avoid noting the blatant disadvantage that Black men and women can be placed in. I choose the concept of intersectionality as my vehicle to tease out the nuances behind the marginalized, but differentiated, plights of Black men and women, mainly because I hope to explore the literature on intersectionality and the efforts by scholars to use this concept to explore the very same systematic oppression that begets societal and individual power hierarchies.

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