Anderson Keynote Address at Criminology Conference

elijah Anderson
Department News
December 11, 2013

Professor Elijah Anderson was invited to deliver a keynote address about the case of Trayvon Martin at the recent meeting of the American Society of Criminology. In his talk, he argued that in the minds of many Americans, the ghetto is where “the black people live,” symbolizing an impoverished, crime-prone, drug-infested, and violent area of the city. Aided by the mass media and popular culture, this image of the ghetto has achieved an iconic status, and serves as a powerful source of stereotype, prejudice, and discrimination. The history of racism in America, along with the ascription of “ghetto” to anonymous blacks, has burdened blacks with a negative presumption they must disprove before they can establish mutually trusting relationships with others. The poorest blacks occupy a caste-like status, and for the black middle class, contradictions and dilemmas of status are common, underscoring the racial divide and exacerbating racial tensions.