African American’s Decision Making: Choice vs. Constraint
At the age of thirteen-year-old, Jonathan (a pseudonym) knows all the names and shapes of the weapons circulating his neighborhood. Jonathan lives with his brothers and mother in a poor-income neighborhood of a metropolitan area. As a result of a lack of father’s presence in his life, his uncle serves as his male role model. In many occasions, when his uncle “goes out and steal” at the nearby stores, Jonathan is often his look out. Despite the criminal laws and police regulations, crime rates in these poor urban neighborhoods are escalating with incarceration rates and death rates follow suits. According to Elijah Anderson (1994), an American sociologist at Yale University, the
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Correlating to the low income, the exposure to community violence is heavily exhibited in the poor urban communities, where many African Americans reside (Farrington, 2007). As a result, the youths who live in these communities are at higher risks of getting influence by the community violence and possibly experience less positive opportunities compare to those who live in regular neighborhoods. With the insufficient opportunities, one consequence for young African American men living in the poor urban communities is the high jeopardy of incarceration. According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the number of people incarcerated has quadrupled in the last 20 years, from 500,000 to 2.3 million. Of those people, African Americans now constitute roughly over 1 million people out of the 2.3 million incarcerated with African Americans get incarcerated at an outstandingly rate of six times more than that of the whites (figure 3). Taking into account the statistics and trends, could the African American communities escape the ever ending cycles of crimes and incarceration? Maybe, but how, will completely depend on the individual’s belief of constraint and choice.
Taking into account the situation that the African Americans make their choices, these individuals make their judgment based on their most logical understanding of what would