SOC 417 Grand Canyon University How Theory Works Conflict Theory Essay

High Crime Rates among the African Americans Ethnicity
Rodrigo Villanueva
Grand Canyon University
Dr. Akoma
Violent crime, particularly homicide, disproportionately affects African American (and,
to a lesser degree, Hispanic) populations over White populations. According to the Federal
Bureau of Investigation (2019), black people in the United States 55.9 percent of all homicide
offenders in 2019 were African Americans, while 41.15 percent were white and other races
accounted for 3 percent. Similarly, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (2019) stated that of those
who were victims of these homicides African Americans were disproportionately affected,
accounting for 54.7 percent compared to 42.3 percent for whites and 3.1 percent for other races.
With the statistics provided, it is easy to conclude that people of the African American ethnicity
have higher crime rates than others and are disproportionately affected by it.
It also means that violent crime rates are maximum in underprivileged neighborhoods
with a high accumulation of minority groups. According to Ulmer et al. (2012), the most popular
reasons for Blacks’ high levels of violent crime are based on the impacts of joblessness and
poverty, social inequality, discrimination, social disorder, and the reputation of racial
discrimination based on actions. Aside from a lack of capital, Blacks face greater social
exclusion and deprivation of resources, which encourages violent behavior and crime.
In black neighborhoods, there is a prevalent culture of how people can obtain fast money,
which is linked to an anomic context that arises due to an imbalance of power that favors the
economy above other social institutions. According to Ziyanak and Williams (2014), who refer
to Messner and Rosenfeld’s institutional anomie theory, high levels of violence are a
consequence of these particular circumstances that are disproportionately experienced by black
people in America. The same theory discusses the American dream and how it promotes a deep
commitment to material wealth possession that ought to be implemented by everyone under
individualism. African Americans face challenges in meeting their basic needs. Consider the
lengths they must go to achieve the American dream. This encourages crime because only a few
of them can acquire wealth in a socially acceptable manner due to inadequate education and
unemployment. Furthermore, the individualistic component of the American dream tends to
promote the ideology that one must do what one must do to be happy and content in society
without regard for others. It’s also a reason to encourage people to commit crimes to get what
they want because the welfare and security of others aren’t taken into account.
As they continue to expound on the functionalist theory while using the institutional
anomie theory to explain crime Ziyanak and Williams (2014) claim that committing a crime can
be due to having more or fewer opportunities. Because of racism, which leads to segregation and
discrimination, most African Americans have fewer opportunities. As a result, they are unable to
achieve their legal or social objectives, which leads to frustration, which manifests itself in
violence and crime. On the other hand, when economic prospects are expanded but social issues
such as anomie levels in society are not dealt with, black people are put under a lot of pressure to
use exaggerated methods of gaining money such as drug smuggling, theft, and joining gangs to
keep up. There are socially accepted methods or goals of obtaining affluence, as per the strain
theory under functionalism. However, according to Densley (2018), not everyone in society will
be able to access the laid-out goals or the socially accepted means of achieving wealth. Many
African Americans are disadvantaged as a result of discrimination, and they lack opportunities to
earn a living cleanly and honestly. It leads to black Americans joining gangs, robbing, or
trafficking drugs as a means of resolving these differences. It raises crime rates and ensures that
crime remains high in black neighborhoods.
According to Durkheim, crime is unavoidable because not every member of society is
fully committed to the common opinions, which are the beliefs and values that a society holds.
People are exposed to a wide range of influences and situations, making it extremely hard for
them to be all similar, and as a consequence, some people will inevitably break the law. A good
example is street gangs, which the general public despises because they are sources of crime and
encourage crime. Black people may be vulnerable to feelings of hopelessness as a result of
racism of all kinds. As a result, they usually form their anti-establishment factions. Street gangs
provide a layout for attaining economic targets through drug trafficking as well as providing a
social construct that makes it easier to meet the social and emotional necessities of black males.
Most young black men value gang membership because of the social, emotional, and economic
support they receive from fellow gang members, who become family. They gain a sense of
identity and are protected from any threats they may face on the streets. The larger society,
however, views gangs as a breeding ground for crime, whereas young black men see them as a
source of refuge, a place where they can feel a sense of family and warmth. At the same time,
joining gangs entails breaking the law to meet financial needs. This is where the differences in
viewpoints come into play.
Conflict Theory
One way to make sense of the theory’s core theme is that what we describe as correct as
per the interests of the dominant elite and what we categorize as immoral and unethical is
anything that contradicts the upper classes or those in power. According to Conflict Theory,
norms and laws reflect the interests of society’s prominent members. Those in powerful
positions define what deviant behavior is and are not likely to be labeled as deviant, it doesn’t
matter if they are alleged to break societal laws or norms. They also have the means to fight
deviant titles. There are very few African Americans in the ruling class. The vast majority of
them are from the middle or lower classes of society. As a result, the majority of the rules
enacted by those in power are explicitly designed to discriminate against black people. As a
result, even a minor mistake committed by a black man may be more severely punished or
dwelled upon than when a person of another race does the same. Because the odds are stacked
against them, it may appear that African Americans have a higher rate of crime than other races
because their offenses, no matter how minor, are more pointed out and punished harshly than
others. These are the people who chose what is prosecutable and what is not, and the
consequences are often felt most strongly by those who have less power. Inequalities in society,
as well as disparities in social classes, contribute to crime. Because of their oppression, African
Americans who are mostly at the bottom may develop resentment and hopelessness. This leads
to aggressiveness or engaging in drug abuse resulting in a high level of crime among them.
Back in the 1980s, poor people, the majority of whom were black, were found to be using
crack at alarmingly high rates under US criminal law. People of the upper class or wealthy
people, on the other hand, used cocaine, which is much more expensive than crack. However, the
legal consequences of using crack versus cocaine were strikingly different; the law said that if
one was caught with fifty grams of crack, they would be sentenced to ten years in prison, just
like the person caught with five thousand grams of cocaine. According to the New York Times
Editorial staff (2011), the difference was “1 to 100”. When utilizing the conflict theory, it is easy
to discern that those in society who have power are also the ones who create criminal laws.
While doing so, they pass policies that favor them, while the disempowered classes bear the
consequences because they lack the resources to make such decisions. All kinds of injustices
force oppressed people to seek out unconventional alternative means of survival, which leads to
crime and violence, in this case among African Americans in the United States.
Symbolic Interactionism
Symbolic interactionism is used to explain how communities and groups of people come
to regard certain behaviors as deviant or good. Symbolic interactionism encompasses labeling
theory and differential association theory. Even though we all break rules now and then, some
people would label themselves as deviants. Those that do that, on the other hand, are frequently
termed deviant and little by little begin to accept it themselves. Labeling theory investigates how
people in society attribute deviancy to others. As a result, what is regarded deviant is decided not
so much because of the habits themselves or the individuals who commit them, but by how
others respond to these behaviors. Many African Americans, particularly young men, are
affected by secondary deviance. A study done found out that “the percentage of a
neighborhood’s black population, particularly the percentage young black men, is significantly
associated with perceptions of the severity of the neighborhood’s crime problem.” (Quillian and
Pager 2001). It happens when an individual’s self-concept and behavior shift as a result of his or
her deeds being branded as deviant by people in society. As an act of defiance against the society
that has categorized that person as a deviant, the person may eventually take on and attain the
role of being a deviant.
There is no denying that for a long period of time, there’s been some racial biases or
stereotypes that have harmed black people. The rate with which African American men have
been the focus of misplaced police hostility demonstrates the irrefutable function that race
contributes to flawed assumptions of danger and criminal behavior. This type of predicament, on
the other hand, manifests in a variety of contexts, including cashiers who keep an especially
close eye on African American male shoppers who are labeled as prospective shoplifters and
white women who tightly grasp their purses whenever they have an encounter, no matter how
insignificant, with an African American male. As a result, negative stereotypes can become selffulfilling. An African American child who grows up in a neighborhood with gang violence, and
who has been made to believe that individuals of their ethnicity participate in crime by society,
are more prone to participate in unlawful behavior at some point in their life. Secondary
deviance is so powerful that it elevates a person to the status of master. A master status is a tag
that explains an individual’s primary attribute. The majority of African Americans regard
themselves as beggars, criminals, or addicts. Therefore the high rates of crime contributed to
racial stereotyping.
Furthermore, according to the theory, people develop symbols and interpret this information
based on their interactions with others, and we learn how to behave from interactions with each
other in our community. What’s vital to know is that our interpretations are frequently subjective.
We act by what we believe is true instead of what is factually true. Using drugs or carrying
weapons, for example, may appear cool to a young African American in his neighborhood even
though they are illegal. Drug abuse is unhealthy and dangerous, according to research. However,
some young African Americans subjectively assign a symbol to the fact that the use of drugs,
carrying a gun, or being a member of a gang is cool and that it delivers a positive perception to
their peers. They decide to engage in destructive behavior based on the subjective belief that
drug use or gang membership is desirable rather than objective evidence that it is illegal.
Abusing drugs and having easy access to firearms make it easier to decide to commit a crime.
Most black neighborhoods are associated with crime, and children raised in such environments
are more likely to commit a crime. According to this theory, most African Americans commit
crimes and engage in deviant behavior because they relate and interact with lawbreakers and
deviants. Deviants gain knowledge on values that are different from those of the rest of society.
They may learn, for instance, that stealing, drug use, and carrying firearms are favorable
behaviors. This is referred to as a deviant subculture because it is a common way of life that is
distinct from the dominant culture. This is an excellent explanation of how these neighborhoods
will continue to be associated with violence and crime in the future unless the vicious cycle is
Christian Worldview on Crime
Christians presume that sin is inherent in human nature, that we all can break the law, and
that criminals should be fairly treated. Christians understand that God is a just God. He is the
final and only judge, and we will have to account to Him our actions someday. But even so, on
Earth, he has assigned the authority to judge offenses to the state. When the legal system
sentences a lawbreaker, it is acting in God’s name. Christians could very well pardon a criminal
who has victimized them, but they’d also hope justice to be done in the courts. They would like
to see prisons assisting criminals in their attempts to transform for the better. Christians believe
that criminals should be pardoned and given a chance to redeem themselves but it is also good to
punish them while they are being assisted to change for the better. They believe that every action
has a consequence and we should take responsibility. Christians believe that working with
citizens to discourage repeating the same crime is important and that while poverty is not a
justification for violating the law, attempting to alleviate poverty and poor social circumstances
may help to prevent illegal behavior. Christians believe that criminals should be urged and
assisted in repenting so that they can be forgiven. They may despise the wrongdoing, but not the
perpetrator. Cruel and barbaric treatment of violators is condemned by Christians.
All in all, the theories explain why crimes happen in the black community. The theories
explain why some aggressive actions are regarded as crimes whereas others are deemed typical
behavior. In other words, the theories illustrate the effect of socialization and obtained
mannerisms on people’s preferences values, and beliefs. These theories help us comprehend the
minor differences between the concepts of crime and deviance, where crime is defined as
breaking the law and deviance is defined as breaking social norms.
Claerbaut, D. Our Social World: An Introduction to Sociology. Retrieved 17
March 2022, from
Densley, J. A. (2018). Gang joining. In Oxford research encyclopedia of criminology and
criminal justice. DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190264079.013.437
New York Times Editorial Staff. 2011. “Reducing Unjust Cocaine Sentences.” New York Times,
June 29. Retrieved February 10, 2012
Quillian, L., & Pager, D. (2001). Black neighbors, higher crime? The role of racial stereotypes in
evaluations of neighborhood crime. American journal of sociology, 107(3), 717-767.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2019). Table 43: 2019 Crime in the United States. FBI.
Retrieved 17 March 2022, from
Ulmer, J. T., Harris, C. T., & Steffensmeier, D. (2012). Racial and ethnic disparities in structural
disadvantage and crime: White, Black, and Hispanic comparisons. Social science
quarterly, 93(3), 799-819.
Ziyanak, S., & Williams, J. L. (2014). Functionalist perspective on deviance. Journal of Human
Sciences, 11(2), 1-9.
Typing Template for APA Papers: A Sample of Proper Formatting for APA Style
Student A. Sample
College Name, Grand Canyon University
Course Number: Course Title
Instructor’s Name
Assignment Due Date
An abstract is a brief, comprehensive summary of the contents of a paper that runs a maximum
of 250 words (American Psychological Association, 2020). It should contain a synopsis of the
points in the paper but also be readable and well organized. It should be a single paragraph. To
use this page of the template, simply delete this paragraph and start typing. The formatting
should stay the same, with no indentation. An abstract is not required unless the assignment asks
for one. Check the assignment details before including this element in your paper.
Typing Template for APA Papers: A Sample of Proper Formatting for APA Style
This is an electronic template for papers written according to the style of the American
Psychological Association (APA, 2020) as outlined in the seventh edition of the Publication
Manual of the American Psychological Association. The purpose of the template is to help
students set the margins and spacing. Margins are set at 1 inch for top, bottom, left, and right.
The text is left-justified only; that means the left margin is straight, but the right margin is
ragged. Each paragraph is indented 0.5 inch. It is best to use the tab key to indent, or set a firstline indent in the paragraph settings. The line spacing is double throughout the paper, even on the
reference page. One space is used after punctuation at the end of sentences. The font style used
in this template is Times New Roman and the font size is 12 point. This font and size is required
for GCU papers.
The Section Heading
The heading above would be used if you want to have your paper divided into sections
based on content. This is a Level 1 heading, and it is centered and bolded, and the initial word
and each word of four or more letters is capitalized. The heading should be a short descriptor of
the section. Note that not all papers will have headings or subheadings in them. Papers for
beginning undergraduate courses (100 or 200 level) will generally not need headings beyond
Level 1. The paper title serves as the heading for the first paragraph of the paper, so
“Introduction” is not used as a heading.
Subsection Heading
The subheading above would be used if there are several sections within the topic labeled
in a first level heading. This is a Level 2 heading, and it is flush left and bolded, and the initial
word and each word of four or more letters is capitalized.
Subsection Heading
APA dictates that you should avoid having only one subsection heading and subsection
within a section. In other words, use at least two subheadings under a main heading, or do not
use any at all. Headings are used in order, so a paper must use Level 1 before using Level 2. Do
not adjust spacing to change where on the page a heading falls, even if it would be the last line
on a page.
The Title Page
When you are ready to write, and after having read these instructions completely, you can
delete these directions and start typing. The formatting should stay the same. You will also need
to change the items on the title page. Fill in your own title, name, course, college, instructor, and
date. List the college to which the course belongs, such as College of Theology, College of
Business, or College of Humanities and Social Sciences. GCU uses three letters and numbers
with a hyphen for course numbers, such as CWV-101 or UNV-104. The date should be written
as Month Day, Year. Spell out the month name.
Formatting References and Citations
APA Style includes rules for citing resources. The Publication Manual (APA, 2020) also
discusses the desired tone of writing, grammar, punctuation, formatting for numbers, and a
variety of other important topics. Although APA Style rules are used in this template, the
purpose of the template is only to demonstrate spacing and the general parts of the paper. GCU
has prepared an APA Style Guide available in the Student Success Center and on the GCU
Library’s Citing Sources in APA guide ( for help in correctly
formatting according to APA Style.
The reference list should appear at the end of a paper. It provides the information
necessary for a reader to locate and retrieve any source you cite in the body of the paper. Each
source you cite in the paper must appear in your reference list; likewise, each entry in the
reference list must be cited in your text. A sample reference page is included below. This page
includes examples of how to format different reference types. The first reference is to a webpage
without a clear date, which is common with organizational websites (American Nurses
Association, n.d.). Next is the Publication Manual referred to throughout this template (APA,
2020). Notice that the manual reference includes the DOI number, even though this is a print
book, as the DOI was listed on book, and does not include a publisher name since the publisher
is also the author. A journal article reference will also often include a DOI, and as this article has
four authors, only the first would appear in the in-text citation (Copeland et al., 2013).
Government publications like the Treatment Improvement Protocol series documents from the
Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (2014) are another common source found online. A book
without a DOI is the last example (Holland & Forrest, 2017).
American Nurses Association. (n.d.). Scope of practice.
American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological
Association (7th ed.).
Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. (2014). Improving cultural competence (HHS
Publication No. 14-4849). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance
Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Copeland, T., Henderson, B., Mayer, B., & Nicholson, S. (2013). Three different paths for
tabletop gaming in school libraries. Library Trends, 61(4), 825–835.
Holland, R. A., & Forrest, B. K. (2017). Good arguments: Making your case in writing and
public speaking. Baker Academic.

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