Guilt and Criminalization by Association

Oct 4, 2007

Progressive parenting is well-practiced recently to induce various potentials from a child, and the first rule is to not compare one’s kid from the kid of another, regardless if one is a parent or not involved in the family unit at all. The modern society talks about the probable concerns regarding how kids were raised then, challenging a better way of parenting as a modern approach to meeting the child’s needs. This includes a better way of teaching to meet each student’s learning curve as well as questioning whether examination scores reveal any sort of relevance at all, and if attending the school per se is the better option than home schooling. However, all these are simply first-world problems. Why? Because children who are born of Black American or Latino descent, especially those from the lower class families suffer from what not everyone knows called guilt and criminalization by association.

Discrimination affects the youth more than anyone else in anywhere in the world. They are what newer studies call as “organic intellectuals” and these children are the society’s “organic capital”. Antonio Gramsci described the idea as the marginalized youth being the workforce which opportunities are being limited because of racial discrimination, thereby preventing them from succeeding in mainstream career growth. The organic capital then is the response of the organic intellectuals against the set societal boundaries, referring to the “creative social and cultural capital”, meaning, their means for surviving within the limits set by the society, for instance, the ‘ghetto markets’ or any form of business which operations are unauthorized. But, where is this limit coming from in the first place? A number of research studies show that Black Americans are five times more likely to be victimized on the grounds of racial discrimination; Latinos thrice more likely; than White Americans. This is not limited to racist remarks, this expands to getting a chance for education and jobs, making the marginalized youth take an awkward position in the society – to act like others to be accepted by others, while to act like their own race to become a part of the norm. They are living in two worlds, because no matter where they go, people attach stereotypical characteristics on them even if they are performing well in schools and in their workplaces, and this is exactly the guilt and criminalization by association phenomenon.

Black and Latino boys are often criticized in schools. For instance, many are tagged as delinquents, but definitely not all of them are. Hence, these boys are often misunderstood, left alone to themselves, and pressured by something that is being pushed onto them which is not even true at all. For the young adults, the challenge heightens because this is the time when they try to fit into their immediate surroundings, particularly in school. This is the time when they start to get confused whether to keep up with their neighborhood circles – much more prone to association, or to keep up with school peers – still a challenged realm, again due to guilt by association. By the time these kids reach the age when it is legal for them to work, the number of out of school organic intellectual spikes, and it is safe to say the half stays in school, the other half chooses to find a job due to various concerns including, but not limited to, financial problems and social pressure. For the kids who stayed in school, they might have a better chance in landing a better-paying job, but this racist society, again, associates criminalization to people who have a different skin color. This is a vicious cycle. Those kids become parents too, and whatever opportunity they had, it is the same opportunity that their kids will have, making this a vicious cycle of fighting for something that one should not be fighting for in the first place.

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