The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America

Featuring Jonathan Blanks and Khalil Gibran Muhammad

Data are the lifeblood of public policy analysis. In criminal justice policy, crime data can be used to determine whether crime victimization is trending up or down in a given area or whether an innovative type of policing is effective. But how data are analyzed can have extraordinary effects on policy outcomes and future recommendations.

In his re-released award-winning book, The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America (Harvard University Press, 2019), Khalil Gibran Muhammad details the history of how crime data became evidence of racial inferiority that helped shape criminal justice policy and American thought for more than 100 years.

While urban elites viewed crime committed by European immigrants as a call for palliative social remedy, crime by black migrants from the American South was considered racially endemic and thus was to be dealt with punitively. Condemnation of Blackness is essential reading to understand how ideas of black dangerousness and criminality are legacies of slavery, racism, and discrimination.

Please join us on Thursday, September 26, for a conversation with Muhammad as he discusses his extraordinary book with the Cato Institute's Jonathan Blanks.