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Do UIC Crime Alerts Create Animosity Towards African-American Males On-Campus?

By: I Fight Evil**

As I walked around campus today, I began to receive weird looks from other students. I then began to wonder why these looks arose and what was creating this sense of fear within students across campus?

I thought maybe it is my wearing of headphones and they want to know what I am listening to and why I am listening to it, “no that could not be it,” I said to myself. Then as I boarded the elevator at SEO (Science Engineering Offices), an Asian-American woman looked back at me in fear, almost as if she presumed that I might do something to her as she boarded the elevator. On top of that whole scenario to, as I boarded the elevator all eyes were on me and there was a pause of silence as I boarded. I then knew the music did not incite the somewhat fearful staring.

Later, after exiting the elevator, I proceeded to the library, but before I left I held the door for two males, neither of whom were African American, and they looked at me as if I were going to harm them. As I walked, I briefly pondered, why are males and females who are not African-American afraid of me? I am merely an African-American male, approximately 5’9” – 6’0” tall, I weigh between 130lbs – 160lbs, and I was wearing a dark jacket…. “Wait a minute,” I said to myself, “this is exactly how 90% of the crime alerts describe those who are “terrorizing” UIC campus.”

I realized that as long as I am Black at UIC and the crime alerts keep perpetuating me as a villain everyone on campus will fear being alone with me on an elevator, sitting next to me in class, standing next to me on the “L”, and most definitely if I am walking behind them blasting Lupe Fiasco.

So I wondered did I create this villain persona for myself, or did the UIC Crime Alert System make me a villain? I honestly believe as long as the UIC Crime Alerts keep making all of the villains African-American, male, between 5’8” -6’3” weighing between 130-160lbs, all Black males on campus will fall prey to being called villains because they fit the villainous profile that the UIC Crime Alerts never cease to create.

My question to the UIC Police and Crime Alert writers is how long will I be a villain? and what can I do to become the hero or at least like everyone else? UIC calls for diversity, so let us diversify the Crime Alerts or at least do something to create distinctions among criminals and a college student who happens to be a Black male.

**”I Fight Evil” is a pseudonym used by the author who is a UIC student.

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11 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    I understand your frustration and I am sorry that you feel like an outcast, however you have directed your anger towards the wrong parties and have totally misinterpreted the issue.

    “So I wondered did I create this villain persona for myself, or did the UIC Crime Alert System make me a villain?”

    Neither. You are probably a decent human being and the UIC Crime Alert system is an important safety tool for UIC students, faculty, and staff.

    “I honestly believe as long as the UIC Crime Alerts keep making all of the villains African-American, male, between 5’8” -6’3” weighing between 130-160lbs, all Black males on campus will fall prey to being called villains because they fit the villainous profile that the UIC Crime Alerts never cease to create.”

    You might want to reconsider your position, because it is wrong. The UIC Crime Alerts do not “make” the villains “African-American, male, between 5’8” -6’3” weighing between 130-160lbs;” these are descriptions of the criminals who rob, abduct, and otherwise terrorize (your words) the UIC campus.

    “My question to the UIC Police and Crime Alert writers is how long will I be a villain? and what can I do to become the hero or at least like everyone else? UIC calls for diversity, so let us diversify the Crime Alerts or at least do something to create distinctions among criminals and a college student who happens to be a Black male.”

    By calling for a diversification of the Crime Alerts, are you asking the UIC Police to send false information to the community? Perhaps shake things up by occasionally making the criminal a hispanic female or an elderly man? Do you see how absurd your suggestion is?

    Yes, it is unfortunate that you feel that people are wary around you. But the UIC Police are not to blame; the criminals are.

    • @Anonymous, I don’t think by “diversify” he means throw in false information, I think he means go about other ways of identifying the perpetrators, why is race such an important factor? It is necessary, but at the same time it becomes tremendously irritating.

      Also, your last statement came off as slightly condescending. This has happened and continues to happen to many Black males and minorities in all. Unless you suddenly became a Black male while typing you comment, you cannot possibly know how it feels to NOT be a perpetrator, but everyone thinks you are.

      Its important to understand things, such as the cultivation theory and how people are programmed to believe these things and NOT make distinctions; separate the race from the crime. Educating yourself and not thinking ever Black man you see is going to jack you is ideal. Historically, every white man has been a notorious serial killer. Jeffery Dahmer went after teen boys. When I was a teenager I didn’t flinch every time I saw a white man thinking he may be like Jeffery Dahmer because the media and other institutions would not have you think that way.

      If overt racism is a noose, institutionalized racism is carbon monoxide: just as lethal but more pervasive and far harder to detect.

      • anonymous says:

        Dartunorro,

        “I don’t think by “diversify” he means throw in false information, I think he means go about other ways of identifying the perpetrators, why is race such an important factor? It is necessary, but at the same time it becomes tremendously irritating.”

        You seem to be suffering from selective attention. The original poster listed five descriptors commonly found in crime alerts: sex, height, weight, race, clothing. The sixth is, of course, age.

        How else do you expect a victim to describe the perpetrator? How else, for that matter, can anyone describe anybody after such a brief interaction?

        “Also, your last statement came off as slightly condescending. This has happened and continues to happen to many Black males and minorities in all. Unless you suddenly became a Black male while typing you comment, you cannot possibly know how it feels to NOT be a perpetrator, but everyone thinks you are.”

        Every group has stereotypes that do not accurately describe some, many, or most of its group members. Black males are not alone in this, nor does “everyone” think all Black males are criminals. I certainly don’t, and I can’t think of any who do.

        If the statement came across as condescending to you, you must have misinterpreted it, because his situation is clearly unfortunate. The fact is that it is disrespectful to attack those who put their lives on the line for our safety, when in fact those who commit the crimes are at fault.

        “Its important to understand things, such as the cultivation theory and how people are programmed to believe these things and NOT make distinctions; separate the race from the crime. Educating yourself and not thinking ever Black man you see is going to jack you is ideal. Historically, every white man has been a notorious serial killer. Jeffery Dahmer went after teen boys. When I was a teenager I didn’t flinch every time I saw a white man thinking he may be like Jeffery Dahmer because the media and other institutions would not have you think that way.”

        I imagine when you say that “every white man has been a notorious serial killer” you mean that every notorious serial killer has been a white man. These are very different statements. Regardless, you seem to be perpetuating the same race-consciousness that you rail against.

        I don’t know what “other institutions” you are referring to, but I certainly do not flinch every time I see a white man or a black man, not because of what the media (supposedly) wants me to think, but because it is overwhelmingly likely that he is just a regular guy.

    • I Fight Evil says:

      If you insist that the criminals are the ones to blame how do you account for the UIC creating the ideas that they are not criminals but simply fulfilling the stereotype paved upon them. If you create a campus wide mentality that all criminals fit the listed characteristics how can a black make feel that he its doing wrong when the crime alerts make it seem a though he is not going against the culture but merely embodying it?

    • I Fight Evil says:

      I am not asking for the police to falsify their reports if anything I am asking for them to fee more specific because believe it or not Black males are not committing all the crimes. I am merely asking for the truth and anything less than the truth should not be published the crime alert, of the specifics of the criminal are not available the UIC police should not give a generalization that covers an entire spectrum of African American males!

      • anonymous says:

        “If you insist that the criminals are the ones to blame…”

        You and I seem to disagree on a fundamental point. Of course I insist the criminals are to blame. Do you not? If nobody committed these crimes, would this issue exist at all? Of course not.

        “…how do you account for the UIC creating the ideas that they are not criminals but simply fulfilling the stereotype paved upon them.”

        I cannot account for that because I have no idea what you are talking about. The crime alerts (note the name) describe the perpetrator as an “offender” (one who commits an illegal act). If you still think the UIC Police are “creating the ideas that they are not criminals,” you must be reading different crime alerts than I.

        “If you create a campus wide mentality that all criminals fit the listed characteristics how can a black make feel that he its doing wrong when the crime alerts make it seem a though he is not going against the culture but merely embodying it?”

        You seem to have a much lower estimation of Black males than I do. I happen to believe that Black males, just like everybody else, have the capacity to understand that committing a crime is wrong.

        “I am not asking for the police to falsify their reports if anything I am asking for them to fee more specific because believe it or not Black males are not committing all the crimes. I am merely asking for the truth and anything less than the truth should not be published the crime alert, of the specifics of the criminal are not available the UIC police should not give a generalization that covers an entire spectrum of African American males!”

        Do you have more information about these crimes than the rest of us? If so, I urge you to call the hotline included in each email. If not, what you said is entirely speculation, and it is outrageous and disrespectful to insinuate the UIC Police are misleading the community by witholding information. The UIC Police are relaying information reported to them by the victims of these crimes. How exactly do you suppose a victim could be more specific about an attacker?

  2. anonymous says:

    Has it ever occurred to you that people might be looking at you because it is incredibly rude and inconsiderate to be blasting music in public, and not because you are black?

    • I Fight Evil says:

      Has it ever occurred to you @Anonymous that I was not blasting my music?

      • anonymous says:

        Yes it did, but luckily you answered that question for me in your original post.

        “…and most definitely if I am walking behind them blasting Lupe Fiasco.”

  3. Bill Burton, UIC Public Affairs says:

    I am providing the following reply on behalf of Chief John W. Richardson of UIC Police:

    UIC complies with requirements of the federal Clery Act of 1990, which specifies how universities must disclose information about crime on and near their campuses. Clery mandates the issuing of timely crime alerts that include a physical description of the suspect, including gender and race.

    The purpose of providing offender descriptions is not to cause anyone to fear or avoid people who resemble the perpetrators. Rather, the aim is to encourage anyone who may recall having seen the individual or group to provide that information for our investigation even if they did not witness the crime. For instance, if a tip enables us to place a possible suspect at another site where a surveillance camera captured a video image, a positive identification may result.

    Such sharing of information is also in keeping with the principles of community policing, in which the public is empowered, and police and members of the community share joint responsibility for the safety of the neighborhood.

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