Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Winter 2005

Abstract

This Article has identified and outlined the parameters of Black protectionism, a practice used by African-Americans to protect prominent community members who have been charged with criminal or unethical activity. This practice took root during slavery-during a time when a false or minor charge against one African-American could result in death or great bodily harm to him and scores of other African-Americans. History has cultivated a culture of Black mistrust of Whites in particular and mainstream society in general. This suspicion is reinforced with the continued disparate treatment of African-Americans within the criminal justice system. History and contemporary conditions explain why Black protectionism-akin to a vote of confidence-has been available to prominent Blacks without limitation (e.g., political affiliation). As practiced, Black protectionism is a community statement of protest against an oppressive justice system. An analysis of how it works, however, reveals that its overbreadth renders it ineffective as a strategy for Black racial justice.

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