Analysis Of Punished: Policing The Lives Of Minority Youth By Victor Rios

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To the average, white, upper-middle class adult, it is easy to think that delinquent minority youth are deserving of the punishment they receive. It is easy to demand retributive punishment from the comforts of your own home, in a suburban neighborhood where second chances probably aren’t hard to come by. Now, it is overgeneralizing to claim that people from well-off backgrounds have skewed perspectives of poor minority youth, but the fact that these troubled youths have to deal with a systemic culture of punishment in their everyday lives is nothing short of the truth. It is known that many of our youth possess a rebellious attitude towards higher forces of power, but what constitutes the divide between youth and those in power, specifically …show more content…

In poor urban communities like Oakland, young people experience “. . .hyper-criminalization, the process by which an individual’s everyday behaviors and styles become ubiquitously treated as deviant, risky, threatening or criminal, across social contexts” (Rios, xiv). Institutions that heavily adopt this culture of criminalization deeply affect these young people’s perceptions of who they are and how they should live. When a school teacher is doubtful instead of supportive, it further hardens the belief that these kids aren’t worth much, and this ultimately helps push them towards crime instead of away from it. In Slick’s case from Rios’ book, the school commonly accused Slick and his friends of truancy “. . .for the days they missed recovering from violent attacks and used this as justification to expel them from school” (Rios, 6). The negative interactions from these adult figures in control further adds to the youths’ sense of defeat and hopelessness. The prejudice these teens face makes it difficult for them to lead a better lifestyle, forcing them to turn back towards criminal antics because they are not accepted anywhere …show more content…

I also came to Boulder for school because I wanted a change of environment. In contrast, much of these kids growing up in the Oakland area and areas alike don’t have this luxury of changing locations simply because they wanted to. Many of them are swallowed by an environment of perpetual blame and are constantly being put-down by individuals who are representative of social institutions. Had Slick and his friends grown up in the same suburban middle-class environment, they probably would have had better opportunities or more chances to turn their lives around. Their teachers and other adult figures in their lives also probably wouldn’t have preconceived perspectives or instinctively associate a certain background type with likelihood of crime. Once these kids see how they are treated by these individuals in power, they begin to “. . .reject the law and its underlying values, often develop[ing] a resistance orientation and [taking] a defiant and destructive stance” (Rios, 43). At this stage, I believe that the youth have already given up on themselves and are subconsciously angry with those that have given up on them

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