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Black Homicide in Urban America

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: March 3, 2000
Latest update: January 19, 2000
E-Mail Curran or Takata.

Understanding Multiple Approaches to Complex Issues

We had extensive discussions on both Rose and McClain, and William Oliver. But I didn't get this file up in March. Sorry. Now I'm back to it in late January 2001. Rose and McClain approach the problem quantitatively, and Oliver approaches it qualitatively. Rose and McClain look at entire metropolitan areas and homicide rates, in light of major historical and economic events. Oliver looks at the individual motivations of a very restricted group of blacks judged high on interpersonal violence.

My primary concern in this file is to make sure that you see the fundamental tension between these two approaches. One sees the structural context as determinative; the other sees the individual perpetrator and victim (agency) as determinative, within their local context. I would like to call your attention to the critical perspective that agency and structural context are interdependent.

. . . More soon. jeanne, january 19, 2001

Old notes from March 2000:

Jeanne is just beginning to put up notes on Race, Place and Risk, Harold M. Rose and Paula D. McClain, on Black Homicide in Urban America. Records have to go up first. This file will be up soon. jeanne

Risk of violent death highest for young black males.
Quote: "an endangered species"
Need to understand the phenomenon to develop a better grasp of what needs to be done to alter this intolerable situation.

Researchers have been reluctant to study. Smacks of racism, smacks of saying things that can be taken out of context, and turned against one's meaning.
McCain's [sic?] attempt to castigate intolerance no matter its source: backlash.
One result of this is that even those who would do something are intimidated by the fear of treading where others have been castigated.

"Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. . ."

What can we do about changing this fear of speaking out, of poking about to discover ways to understand? Consider listening to all validity claims in good faith, knowing that over time some of the ideas will turn out not to have been correct . . . But refusing to hear them is to chill free speech and free seeking after understanding. Each of us needs to understand that a hypothesis is just that. An idea I'm trying to test out. An idea along the way to finding a path to understanding that will let us hear each other in peace.

We have grown to used to the adversarial arguments of law. None of us need be adversaries in a social group that includes us all. We need to explore communicating with our fellows. We're all on this globe together, and that has some pretty drastic implications. I think Tom Lehrer expressed it as: "Oh, we'll all fry together when we fry, when we fry. Yes, we'll all fry together when we fry."