Remembering Michael Brown: why black youth are branded as criminals

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by Carl Suddler
The Conversation

Two years ago, on August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old African-American teenager, was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Two years have passed since the recent high school graduate was denied the opportunity to begin his next stage of life: college.

Brown was often described as a “gentle giant.” His leisure activities were hardly different from most in his age group – hanging out with friends, listening to music and playing video games. The night before he was shot, he posted to Facebook, “Everything happen for a reason.” Certainly, Michael Brown did not foresee what was going to happen the next day. But for too many black and brown youths, run-ins with law enforcement are too familiar and, coincidentally, predictable.

As a scholar of African-American history specializing in youth, race and crime, I find today’s issues of youth criminality inextricably linked to their racial past.

In those two years since Michael Brown, we have been regularly reminded that youth is a privilege granted to some and denied to others.
Guilty perceptions of black youth

According to a new poll conducted by the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago, two-thirds of young African-Americans, and four in 10 Hispanics, admit to having personally experienced or knowing someone who experienced harassment or violence at the hands of the police.
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