Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology

Committee Member

Peter Briand Wood

Committee Member

Young S. Kim


While over time the terms of reference (e.g., Negro, Colored, Black, African American, Afrikan) have changed, the degraded cast status of Black people has been an immutable constant. For the purpose of this paper, African American and Black will be used interchangeably. No other minority ethnicity, has attempted to assimilate into White American culture more than African Americans. African Americans carry European names, speak the language (opposed to speaking native ancestors’ languages), and also share many of the same religious beliefs. Yet the stigmatization of blacks as an inferior race remains constant. Today the words African American and criminal are used synonymously.