#BlackMindsMatter: Assumptions of Criminality


Dawney Cheng

Fountainetta Coleman

The #BlackMindsMatter Movement started on Foothill College in a screening of the “Black Minds Matter” webinar series last Fall presented by Dr. Luke Wood of UC San Diego. On Friday, February 9, a recap of the event was hosted by Sam White and Carolyn Holcroft in the Hearthside Lounge.

An underlying theme in the discussions was the assumption of criminality — people of color being singled-out for punishment, over-regulation of minor-innocuous actions, subjected to reverse causality, and so on. People of color — this session focusing on the black male — are subject to microaggressions that may be be unintentional and therefore go unnoticed to the perpetrator.

It is this exactly this invisibility that makes such microaggressions difficult to deal with. As Stephanie Chan, an English Instructor, shares in the discussion, “There is a sort of bias, particularly against black males: loud, violent, dangerous. For an educator to come to an awareness to their own bias — it can be tricky.”

Invisible and hard to detect, assumptions of criminality of black men have a significant impact.

“It is important to understand what is being done to the black boy in class, intentionally or unintentionally,” said Sam White, Associate Professor of English, who organized the event.

According to Foothill student Jelani Reed, one of the most important combatants to this structural racism is “Letting him know that we hear him, letting him know that we want to pass.” Recounting stereotypes he has encountered, Reed said “‘He’s not going to do his work, he is going to fool around… He is going to do something funny because he’s black.’”

This type of environment can take away from a student’s drive to excel in education, when the student is, in a sense, expected to fail in one way or another.

The country has been divided on opinions about human rights since before the American Civil War. But for #BlackMindsMatter movement, racial equality is an ideal to strive for. If you are interested to listening in, participating, or helping out in such events, many more are coming up in Black History Month — this February at Foothill College.