Making a Menace to Society: The Criminalization of Black Men and Boys

Yasmin Forbes, African American Studies, Mallard Creek High

Curriculum Unit (pdf)


This curriculum unit focuses on the mythology of inherent Black criminality.

The creation of the Black criminal began as a tool to reestablish white dominance and Black labor at the end of enslavement; then as a response to the migration of Black people to urban centers during the 1920s through the 1950s; then as a government tactic to dismantle during the Civil Rights Movement and revolutionary actions of the Black Panther Party in the 1960s and 1970s; then as a method to incarcerate numerous Black men, women, and children at an exponential rate beginning in the 1980s to present-day; and most recently the cause of Black bodies being brutalized and murdered by the police.

By highlighting the racist rhetoric used in the media and the fabricated Black crime statistics beginning heavily in the 1890s students will have a deeper understanding of the negative impact that the criminal stereotype that has burdened the Black community, while simultaneously providing the White community with a “benefit of the doubt” in their involvement in these instances. Students will grapple with the generational effects of Black criminality through text, video, and image analysis.