Author ORCID Identifier

Degree Year


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Clovis L. White
Greggor Mattson
Daphne John


Hypermasculine, Social context, Black men, Criminality, Southside Chicago, Neoslavery, Policy, Poverty


This research project aims to interrogate the rationale behind Black men’s disproportionate engagement in crime and violent behaviors. To do this, I aim to debunk hypermasculinity as the media and Police’s predominate rationale for Black men’s participation in violence and crime. Although narratives of hypermasculinity have become more insidious across time and space since the slavery era, they still contribute to the pervasive perception of Black men as savage hoodlums who are undeserving of success outcomes. The concept of hypermasculinity asserts that Black men have a biological, innate disposition to incite harm. To deracialize and demystify current stigmas of hypermasculinity that plague Black men, I conducted fifteen in-depth interviews of Black-identifying, young men from the Southside of Chicago who have participated in illicit behaviors. Due to the proliferation of gun violence that is negatively impacting Black men’s life chances, Chicago emerges as an important sociological site. In addition, the Southside of Chicago is a case study for understanding larger social phenomena such as the systematic killing of marginalized people and urban violence and inequity. From my interviews, I discovered how these men’s efforts to combat the war enacted against them by racist structures and institutions were circumscribed by the racialized pigeonhole of the label `hypermasculine’.

By exposing Black men’s rationale for engaging in illicit behaviors, contemporary race scholars will have a new avenue for examining the social context as a production site for their uneven engagement. Moreover, Black men’s motivations for engaging in illicit behaviors will provide a nuanced lens to understanding the multifactorial and contingent nature of criminality. I argue that Black men’s disproportionate engagement in gun violence and crime is out of necessity and not desire. The hypotheses that ground this argument are threefold: (1) The labeling process associated with hypermasculinity is racialized and predisposes Black men to a life of crime and failure, (2) Hypermasculinity, as a rationale, is inherently flawed because it does not include a discussion of Black men’s social context as contributory to their engagement in gun violence and crime, and (3) Combatting the war on Black men requires a city-wide restructuring of how finances and other resources are allocated, along with adaptations to public, penal, and education policies.

If we accept these premises to be true, Black men are finally able to move beyond the stereotype threats of hypermasculinity and emerge as producers of knowledge and positive contributors to society. From my interviews, I found that sweeping narratives of Black men as hypermasculine negatively impact the ways in social welfare, education, and penal policies are written, which insidiously shape Black men’s inability to garner success outcomes. Through exposing how the laws enforced by of our alleged fair and equal justice system are implicitly biased, I argue that Black men have become targets of enduring structural racism and a new form of mass imprisonment called neoslavery.

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