Human Rights

5 Wildly Destructive Myths About Crime and Race

A lot of stereotypes about African-Americans and crime are plain wrong -- and very harmful.

Reprinted with permission of For more news from a racial justice perspective, sign up to receive weeklyColorlines Direct.

In the wake of Trayvon Martin’s death, we’ve seen a lot of discussion of the larger societal issues that play into how and when people are perceived as criminals. There were hoodies, there were marches, and there were frank talks from parent to child about how to minimize the danger of being a young person of color. On the other side, there were justifications of George Zimmerman’s actions: a smear campaign against Martin’s character, and plenty of writers explaining that statistically, blacks are simply more dangerous to be around.

That framing ignores the realities behind the numbers. Here are five myths about crime and people of color.


Hatty is the Art and Production Manager for ARC and ColorLines Magazine. Shani O. Hilton is the Washington, D.C. correspondent for She covers the intersection of congressional and White House politics and racial justice.
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