The concept of and discussions on racism which has become a global concern can be said to have gotten some of it root and gained support from John Dilulo’s terminology of the ’Superpredators’.
Notwithstanding the fact that major taints of racism was experienced as far back during the era of slave trade and dehumanisation of the black race by the whites, many white persons still hold unto the impression that they are far more superior than the blacks. One of the reasons responsible for this line of thought in modern times can be traced to Dilulio thoughts on Young, Black ‘superpredators’ though perceived as a myth by recent events, the world is however still reeling on and living with the lie’s consequences and opinions of these thoughts.
History recall that twenty-five years ago, John DiIulio, a political scientist and professor, created and disseminated one of the most dangerous and lethal lies in human history. He coined the term “superpredator,” depicting Black children as remorseless animals who would prey on victims.
Racism however feed on this illustration and propelled the spread of this theory. DiIulio insisted that this younger, more dangerous breed of offender would soon target “upscale central-city districts, inner-ring suburbs and even the rural heartland.” His warning was clear: White America was in danger.
This opinion of his generated a swift response and unrelenting propaganda. The media immediately leveraged on it and inculcated the impression into the consciousness of the average white American and sensationalized his claims. Politicians from the two parties joined to pass draconian crime bills. And the public eagerly consumed the story. The superpredator lie went viral, infecting every single institution that touches children — courts, schools, law enforcement. In the end, it robbed Black children of their youth and the protections of childhood.
Meanwhile the theory and prediction of the superpredator was fictitious as the initial crime wave predicted by DiIulio was a hoax and never materialised. In fact juvenile crime rates actually dropped between 1994 and 2000.
Despite the surprised statistics majority of politicians who had already formed their conscience based on Dilulios earlier statement stuck to their guns and already held impression and ignored the data and stats by insisting that young blacks should do “adult time for adult crime” legislation.
Interestingly even when DiIulio admitted being wrong about his predictions, his retraction could not dislodge this country’s already-formed assumptions that young Black males were cold-blooded and dangerous. Today, virtually every state still permits middle schoolers to be prosecuted as adults, exposing them to adult punishment. The overwhelming majority of those kids are Black.
The simple question to ask however is; why was it so difficult to re conscientize the people on their previously held belief? What made this superpredator story so easy to swallow — and so stubbornly intractable?
Well, the answer is not farfetched. It is quite simple and damning. The superpredator myth glommed onto a deeper lie rooted in American soil and in the American psyche. A lie that insists that Black children do not deserve the care and lifestyle we reflexively offer white children. All that was needed was the barest of information, and our worst beliefs filled out the contours of the story.
Today the blacks in the American society and in fact globally, are still grappling with the consequencies and opinions of this misguided assertion by Dilulio. Hopefully these negative impressions and tarnishing image of the blacks will soon be jettisoned while in its stead equal rights and privileges would be brought to bare on the America society in general and the world at large.
Gift Joseph Okpakorese