African American Homicides Essay Example
African American Homicides Essay Example

African American Homicides Essay Example

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  • Pages: 9 (2315 words)
  • Published: February 28, 2022
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African American homicides have been a major issue within the United States for many years. Although some may see that this is an issue, it is not an issue that is addressed enough throughout the nation unless it is shown by new releases. Sometimes, the definition of what homicide means is confused with murder and manslaughter. These are all different crimes in some way. The reason that people may commit homicides could possibly be explained by the general strain theory. This theory could give information on the reason for which people commit these crimes. The rate of African American homicides, compared to their population in the United States, is significantly high. When addressing this issue, it is also important to consider who is doing the killing. Is it a lot of black-on-black crime or white-on-black crime? Th


ere are many cases that deal with African American homicides. This is an issue that must be addressed and should be taken action upon.

What is Homicide?

When someone mentions or you see on the news, that there was a homicide, what comes to your mind? Do you instantly believe that a murder, or manslaughter, is a homicide? If you think so, then that is wrong. According to John Murphy (2016), homicide is when a person kills another person. Although that person killed someone doesn’t always mean that it is illegal. For example, when the military goes to war with another country and kills people, they are not committing a crime. That killing would be considered as a legal homicide; however, there is a difference between a legal homicide and an illegal murder.

A murder is a “homicide committed with ‘malice aforethought.’�

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(Murphy, J., 2016) Malice aforethought is a way of saying that it is an unjustified killing, according to Murphy. (2016) For a killing to be ruled as a murder, there has to have been an intent to kill or the conduct would have had to be so imprudent that it could be punishable as murder. When someone commits manslaughter, it is treated less severely than murder. There are two different types of manslaughter – voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter is killing someone while in the heat of the moment, but without the intent to kill them, but maybe to do something else. (Murphy, J., 2016) For example, a person gets really angry after finding out that their spouse was having an affair, and out of the being caught up in their anger, they pick up a pot and throw it at their spouse, but hits their head. If the injury that the spouse succumbed to ends up killing them, that person could be charged with voluntary manslaughter. Involuntary manslaughter particularly involves reckless conduct by a person that results into another person’s death. (Murphy, J., 2016) An example of this would be if there was a drunk driver that wrecked into another car, killing anyone that was in their car or the other car.

Each one of these are types of homicides that occur in the world, no matter whether they are good or bad.

General Strain Theory

The general strain theory (GST) is one theory that can explain why some people commit homicides. GST was developed in 1992 by Robert Agnew. (Brezina, 2017) He created this theory as a response to the criticisms that were against the classic

strain theories. In the classic strain theories, the theorists mainly highlighted the types of strain; however, Agnew talked about those strains and the “wide array” of stressors that could cause those strains.

There were three major types of strain. (Brezina, 2017) The first major type of strain involved goal blocking. This meant that individuals were not able to obtain the goal that they set for themselves. According to Brezina (2017), classic strain theories stated that they focused on a single type of goal blockage, but Agnew argued that there could be other goal blockages that could cause someone to commit a crime, such as a homicide. He stated that this theory recognized that “the experience of goal blockage can result in the failure to achieve expected outcomes, as well as the failure to achieve fair and just outcomes. The presentation of noxious or negatively valued stimuli is the second major type of strain. (Brezina, 2017) This strain includes experiences where an individual has to deal with circumstances that they were not expecting or negative treatment from other people. Examples of this would be bullying, harassment, negative relations with their parents or teachers, or criminal victimization, according to Brezina. (2017). “The third major type of strain involves the loss of positively valued stimuli.” (Brezina, 2017) This type of strain can occur when something that is valued or “encompasses a wide range of undesirable events or experiences” is lost. Some examples that Brezina gave of this is the loss of valued property, a romantic relationship, or the withdrawal of parental love.

What does this theory have to do with homicides? Due to certain strains that individuals may experience in

their life, it may cause them to commit a homicide. The experience, or loss, could put so much pressure on them, mentally, that they decide to kill someone because of how they are feeling. Sometimes, people also retaliate because of someone treating them wrong, being disrespectful, or even being physically abusive. The strains that occur in a person’s life could affect their judgment of what they should do about the situation, and that could lead to them deciding to kill someone.

National Homicide Statistics

The national homicide rate in the nation has actually been pretty high. According to the Uniform Crime Report, in 2016, the United States had a population of 323,127,513. In 2016, there were 17,250 homicides. There was a homicide rate of 5.3 per 100,000 people. This is the highest it has been in the past eight years. According to the Death Penalty Information Center (2018), the top three states in the nation with the highest homicide rates per 100,000 people were Louisiana (11.8), Missouri (8.8), and Alabama (8.4), in that order. North Carolina had a homicide rate of 6.7. (DPIC, 2018) Clearly, by looking at the homicide rates of the states compared to the homicide rate of the nation, it could be seen that there are a lot of homicides that are committed in the United States. In many states, homicide rates have been increasing over the years. This shows that homicides are already a problem in the United States; it makes it worse than it is a huge problem amongst African Americans.

African American Homicide Rates

African American homicides is an issue that isn’t really talked about. Many African Americans are killed in the nation.

According to charts on the Uniform Crime Reports website, more African Americans are usually killed compared to any other race. In 2017, there were 7,851 blacks were killed and 6,579 whites. In 2016, there were 7,881 blacks were killed and 6,576 whites. It was worse in 2015 when there were 7,039 blacks were killed and 5,854 whites were killed. Every year, for the past few years, blacks have been killed more than any other race, having at 1,000 more than whites killed. The African American homicide rate is 2.4 per 100,000 people in the nation. So many African Americans are killed within the United States. African Americans are killed by police, whites, and even their own race. This has to be addressed and stopped.

Homicide Cases

There are many cases of African American homicides that happen and a lot of people don’t know anything about them. The only ones that really are known are the killings that are broadcasted through the news and on social media. No matter where they are broadcasted, all of them are each significantly important.

It may not be as known, but there are some states that have the highest rates of homicides among African Americans. Missouri has the highest rate of homicides among African Americans, with a rate of 46.24 per 100,000. (Kansas City Star Editorial Board, 2018) Wisconsin had the second-highest homicide rate amongst African Americans with 36.77 per 100,000 people. Kansas City, Missouri recorded that about 70 percent of homicide victims in 2017 and 59 percent of homicide victims in 2018 had been African American.

One case that involved African American homicides occurred in Jeffersontown, Kentucky. A white male, Gregory Bush, had

killed two black people, Vickie Lee Jones and Maurice E. Stallard, at a Kroger supermarket in October of 2018. (Zraick & Stevens, 2018) Bush had tried to go into a black church before he went to Kroger. It could be assumed that if he was able to enter into that church, he probably would have killed more people.

There are also many cases of African American homicides where there has been no conviction. Some of these homicides were committed by police officers. One case was the killing of Terence Crutcher Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2016. Crutcher was seen in a video with his hands up, standing beside his car. The police officers followed behind him closely while he was going to his car, and then he fell to the ground when one of the officers pulled the trigger of their gun. The officer who shot and killed him was not convicted and was found not guilty of manslaughter. Another commonly known case was the killing of Walter L. Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina. Scott was killed by a police officer in 2015 that shot him from behind while he was running away. This officer was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to civil rights charges.

There are also many African American homicides that did not result in anyone being arrested. According to Lowery (2018), nearly 26,000 homicides had gone without an arrest in 52 major cities in the past decade. Out of those homicides, more than 18,600 of the victims were African American. The cities that accounted for more than 7,300 of the African American Homicides without an arrest were Chicago, Illinois;

Baltimore, Maryland; Detroit, Michigan; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In the 52 major cities, African Americans account for 24 percent of the population, while whites account for 37 percent of the population; however, 68 percent of the homicide victims are African American. (Lowery, 2018) Out of the 68 percent, 36 percent of the African American homicides resulted without an arrest, and only 32 percent resulted in an arrest. Whites had eight percent of homicides that resulted in an arrest, and five percent that didn’t result in an arrest.

The Impact

A lot of people don’t think of the impact that these homicides make on communities or people individually. One thing that should be considered is the families of the victim. As stated previously, the loss of something that is extremely valued by someone is a strain and can cause them to commit a crime, possibly. They could be so hurt from losing a loved one that they go out, without even thinking, and kill someone.

Another thing that should be considered is the togetherness of the community. It has been shown that a lot of African American homicides result in no one being arrested. This could make it hard for the community to trust each other, especially law enforcement. They could possibly think that they have no one on their side that is going to protect them and make sure that they have equal justice. It’s even harder for African Americans to trust law enforcement when they're some of the ones that are killing them. No, not all police officers are the same, but the perception of one police officer who did something wrong, sadly, becomes the perception of all

police officers in a lot of people’s minds.

What Should Be Done?

There is a lot that could be done about the issue of African American homicides. Even though you will not be able to stop people from killing, there is a way to at least prevent it from happening. One thing that can be done is to make people aware of the information. Many people don’t know the homicide rates of African Americans. A lot of people don’t realize how many African Americans get killed every day. If you spread the information, a person could tell someone else, and the cycle goes on. People have to know of an issue in order to fix an issue. An issue that is unknown cannot be fixed.

Another thing that can be done is that communities should have open arms to all persons of those communities. Some people that end up killing other people may have anger that they don’t know how to deal with, but maybe if they were able to talk to someone about their problems, have someone that they could confide in, maybe there would be a different outcome. Communities should have events that motivate peace with everyone within the communities. It may be difficult, and everyone is not going to like everyone, but it would be good to at least attempt to try to bring a community together, as one, to stop all of the killings.


The issue of African American homicides must be addressed. The fact that the rates are increasing doesn’t help our society at all. Everyone should know how much of an impact it makes on the communities and how many people are being

killed. Some people would just say that it only looks as though African Americans are getting killed more because it is always broadcasted on the news, but the truth is, that African Americans ARE being killed more than any other race. It doesn’t matter whether they are killed by whites or other African Americans.

The point is that it has to stop. African Americans make up a minority portion of the national population, but the African American homicide percentage is more than their percentage of the population. Once more people are made aware of this conflict, maybe they would care more to make it better. If that works, then the rates would go down and there will probably be less killing.

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