Essay Intesectionality: Gender, Race and Gangs

2474 Words May 27th, 2013 10 Pages
Intersectionality: Gender, Race, and Gangs


In much of social science research, gender, race, class, and other dimensions of identity are treated as discrete variables, to be studied and measured separately. In recent years, however, feminist sociological theorists have argued that race, gender, class, and other axes of identity must be treated as overlapping and intersecting forms of oppression. Kimberlé Crenshaw, (1989) was among the first to articulate this theory, and coined the term “intersectionality” to describe it. Intersectionality has emerged as a major paradigm of research in women’s studies (McCall 2005). In her book Black Feminist Thought, Patricia Hill Collins argues that we must understand “race, class, and
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Overall, the literature on gender and gangs clearly demonstrates that the experiences of gang life differ for males and females.
There is also some research that demonstrates that the experiences of gang members also differ by race. For example, white youth are significantly less likely than any other ethnic group to become involved in gangs (Esbesen and Deschenes 1998). The 1998 National Youth Gang Survey estimated that nationwide, gang membership was 46 percent Hispanic and 34 percent African American (Rosenthal 2000). In a study of homicides in Chicago from 1990 to 1994, African American males were sixteen times more likely to be charged with gang-related homicide than white males, and Hispanic males were thirteen times more likely to be charged with gang-related homicide than non-minority males (Rosenthal 2000). While this may be due in part to a greater proportion of gang membership among African Americans and Hispanics, it could also be a result of bias in the criminal justice system and in media representations that emphasize the criminality of minorities. Both media and criminologists focus on black-on-black street crimes while downplaying similar crimes committed by Caucasians (Covington 1995).
Race can also affect the types of crimes gangs are likely to be involved in (Shay 1998). Reviewing the literature on youth gangs, Howell (1998) found that African American gangs are usually affiliated with the

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