Criminalization is a term with many connections to smaller terms such as racialization, discrimination, marginalization, and oppression. This term is also connected to smaller terms as well as factors such as social location, age, race, sexuality, and religion. Overtime, this term has evolved into a concept encompassing many different social categories and inflated by many micro-aggressions controlled by normativity and the status quo. It is through a critical perspective and an anti-oppressive lens that I will discuss the evolution of racialization and criminalization in connection to minorities as well as its connection to the prison system and how it relates to crime and violence in Canadian society.
Criminalization is a concept connected to racialization with roots in colonialism. Race as we know it has no biological bias with some scholars claiming the term did not exist in the ancient world. In the ancient world, status was defined by wealth and religion instead of physical characteristics. As time progressed, Europeans began colonizing and race became the rationalization for their conquests. From this, a new social structure emerged based on skin phenotype with African slaves and Aboriginals at the bottom and Europeans at the top. This furthered the notion of racial superiority and divided people based on race and assigned them to social categories based on phenotype. Author Chris Weedon describes Western racism as defining people from the east as exotic, sensual, irrational and sometimes violent, and people of African descent as lazy, less intelligent, hyper sexual, and physically strong (Weedon, 1999, p. 410). Thus the historical view of colonization was that primitive blacks must be saved and or changed in order to make them socially acceptable and in the likeness of white people who are considered superior.
Furthermore, the effects of racialization connect to criminalization, as there are many examples in this social environment. One example is shown through the prison system in Canada. Minorities are overrepresented in the Canadian prison system, as the number of minorities in Canadian prisons has risen to 75% in the past decade, while the number of Caucasian inmates has declined significantly (Brosnahan, 2013, p. 1). Moreover, the racialization of Aboriginal women due to a long history of dislocation, isolation, violence, and poverty relate to their overrepresentation in the prison system (Wesley, n.d., p. 1). “Aboriginal women account for 4% of the Canadian population, however they compromise 20% of the total incarcerated population in federal corrections” (Wesley, n.d., p. 1). Labels also become a factor in the racialization of minorities.
The construction of race has consequences on individuals who are labeled due to difference. Once these labels become accepted in society it becomes that much harder to be removed as it has become normalized. Labels can lead to further conflict in ones social environment and can...