This paper shall analyze the sociological reason which appears to be disproportionate involvement of African-American in the use of drugs and/or drug trafficking. Arrest data and data from victimization surveys suggest that African-Americans have higher drug usage and drug trafficking crime rates than White Americans (e. g. , Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2003 and Hawkins et al. , 2000; Sampson and Lauritsen, 2002). While race differences can ultimately be attributed to racism and the historic oppression of African-Americans (e. g.
, Hawkins, 2003, McCord, 2000 and Sampson and Wilson, 2003), the more proximate causal process is unclear. In fact, we argue that it is not even clear what racial patterns in offending require explanation. Discussion Some theories attempt to explain why some African-American males engage in deviance, while others attempt to explain why they engage in aggression. The task is complicated by the fact that deviance and aggression are overlapping domains: some aggressive behavior violates norms (and is therefore deviant behavior) and some deviant behavior involves intentional harm-doing (or aggression).
For example, spanking children involves violence but not deviance, the use of illegal drugs involves deviance but not aggression, and violent crime involves both deviance and aggression (Felson et al. , 2002). The pattern of offending is therefore important in determining what type of theory is most useful for explaining the behavior. If an offender engages in violence but not other deviant behavior then a theory of aggression is necessary to understand the behavior.
If an offender engages in criminal behavior generally, then a theory of deviance is needed to understand the behavior. Many studies have shown that personality characteristics related to drug use and delinquency include unconventionality (tolerance of deviance, low achievement, rebelliousness) and intrapsychic distress, for example, low ego integration (Bettes, Dusenbury, Kerner, James-Ortiz, & Botvin, 2004; Brook, Balka, et al. , 2000; Brook, Brook, et al. , 2004; Brook, Whiteman, Cohen, Shapiro, & Balka, 2003; Farrell et al.
, 2000; Jessor et al. , 2003; Newcomb & Bentler, 2001a; O’Donnell, Hawkins, ; Abbott, 2003; Salts et al. , 2003; White, 2004). Substance use may be inversely related to school bonding (Paulson, Coombs, ; Richardson, 2004). Academic status has been associated with delinquent behavior. Thus, dropouts were more likely to be involved in delinquency than were youth with academic problems, who in turn were more involved in delinquency than a group of control students (Chavez, Oetting, ; Swaim, 2002).
African-American males has been characterized as a life stage in which there is a higher risk of problem behavior, whereas young adulthood has been depicted as a time period of shifting toward conventional behavior (Jessor et al. , 2004). Previously, low ego integration and tolerance of deviance were more highly related to delinquency than to drug use (Brook, Whiteman, Balka, ; Cohen, 2000). There is also evidence that aspects of the peer environment (peer marijuana use, peer achievement, peer deviance) strongly contribute to individual drug use and delinquency (Brook, Balka, et al.
, 2000; Brook ; Cohen, 2000; Brook, Brook, et al. , 2004; Flannery, Vazsonyi, Torquati, ; Fridrich, 2002; Jessor et al. , 2003; Kandel, 2003; Newcomb ; Bentler, 2000; Salts et al. , 2003). For aggressive boys, involvement with antisocial peers is associated with delinquent behavior and substance use (O’Donnell et al. , 2003). African-American adolescents involved in deviant behavior associate with other delinquents, and they mutually encourage each other in their behaviors (Chavez et al. , 2002; Dinges & Oetting, 2004; Kaplan, Johnson, & Bailey, 2005).
Notably, over a 3-year period, findings have revealed an increase in the proportion of marijuana-smoking friends for younger (from age 12 to 15) and older (from age 15 to 18) African-American adolescents, an increase in the proportion of delinquent friends for younger African-American adolescents, and a decrease in the proportion of delinquent friends for older African-American adolescents (White, 2004). Delinquent behaviors tend to lessen as increased involvement in the workforce together with dating and marriage alter peer clusters (Chavez et al.
, 2002). Cross-sectional analyses of data on African-American adolescents indicate that peer modeling (marijuana use) is more highly related to African-American adolescent drug use than to delinquency, and that peer deviance is more highly related to African-American adolescent delinquency than to drug use (Brook, Whiteman, Balka, & Cohen, 2000). Variables in the ecology domain identified as risks include poor school environment, victimization, and street culture (nonavoidance of danger).
Findings have revealed that victimization rates are higher for African-American adolescent drug users (Windle, 2002) and among youth who report involvement in delinquent behavior and violence than for youth who report no such involvement (DuRant, Cadenhead, Pendergrast, Slavens, & Linder, 2002; Esbensen & Huizinga, 2004). Cross-sectional analyses have shown that a negative school environment and failure to avoid danger in the neighborhood are associated with higher stages of drug use and delinquency (Brook, Whiteman, Balka, & Cohen, 2000).
Acculturative influences are expected to play a role in drug use and delinquency (Sommers, Fagan, & Baskin, 2004; Vega, Gil, Warheit, Zimmerman, & Apospori, 2004; Wilson & Herrnstein, 2003). Studies have shown that United States birth and low church attendance are related to greater drug use (Brook, Whiteman, Balka, Win, et al. , 2000; Brook, Whiteman, Gordon, & Cohen, 2000; Brook, Whiteman, Gordon, & Cohen, 2000; Lukoff & Brook, 2001; Vega, Gil, & Zimmerman, 2004; Zimmerman & Maton, 2000). Familism has been shown to protect against deviant behavior (Sommers et al. , 2004).
Earlier African-American adolescent drug use and delinquency have both been shown to affect the behavior of young adults. Because several studies imply considerable continuity and stability in those behaviors over time (Brook, Whiteman, Balka, Win, et al. , 2000; Brook, Whiteman, Cohen, et al. , 2003; Newcomb & Bentler, 2001b; Windle, 2004), we expected that African-American adolescent drug use would be more highly related to young adult drug use than to delinquency. Similarly, we expected that African-American adolescent delinquency would be more highly related to young adult delinquency than to drug use.
However, the interval of 5 years could attenuate those distinctions. We assessed the influence of (a) earlier drug use on later drug use and delinquency and (b) the influence of earlier delinquency on later delinquency and drug use. The drug use of low-income African American emerging adults is more troublesome because those protective factors associated with the role changes that mark emerging adulthood in middle class white youths and many youths of color are not necessarily available to poor young people (Anderson, 2004; Brunswick, 2005).
Urban low-income youths experience many of the same developmental transitions as their middle-class counterparts, including increased residential instability, expanded and diversified social networks, and exposure to settings and social influences that support and promote the use of drugs and alcohol. However, they also are subject to inadequate primary and secondary school education, family stressors stemming from the vagaries of impoverishment and government social policies, limited local professional role models, and few job opportunities that guarantee salaries and benefits above the poverty level.
Families struggle to support the material demands of school life (fashionable clothing and social life) but may not be able to do so for emerging adults whose financial needs are increasing. Selling marijuana is an option for intermittent income supplementation, and many youths have friends or relatives who are in a position to supply them with small amounts from time to time. The link between health conditions and social integration has been firmly established (House et al. , 2000; Putnam, 2000).
Much of the research on social capital and health in the past decade has used Putnam’s definition of social capital as civic participation, which frequently occurs through involvement in community organizations or voluntary associations (Putnam, 2003). Weitzman et al. (2005) found that social capital, as measured by volunteerism, was associated with decreased rates of binge drinking and alcohol abuse among college students. A Swedish study found a weak association between individual-level social capital and cigarette use (Lindstrom et al. , 2003).
While social capital and drug trafficking practice have not been extensively studied in African-American samples, other indicators of social integration have been. Specifically, peer affiliation and social bonding have been associated with African-American adolescent drug use (Hawkins et al. , 2000 and Ensminger et al. , 2002). Low social bonding has been associated with early onset of drug use (Ellickson et al. , 2001) and low social bonding in African-American males was found to predict adult drug use among females in a longitudinal study (Ensminger et al.
, 2002). Conclusion Based on the above study, it can be concluded that once involved in drug selling networks, youths can move to selling additional drugs if they believe it is reasonable to accept the associated risks. Unlike suburban White youths, however, urban African American youths are targets for street violence, arrest, and police harassment and abuse. Once imprisoned or on parole as adults, their institutional record may preclude voting and render them ineligible for employment opportunities.
Imprisonment may introduce them to gang members or prospective customers (McCord, 2004). Despite strong family ties, limited educational, economic, and social capital, lack of opportunity, stigmatization, and police harassment limit the potential for achievement of the standard indicators of middle class adulthood — namely, college degree and long-term employment with benefits, decent housing, and a stable personal family situation. Bibliography Anderson, E. 2004 Streetwise: Race, class and change in an urban community.
Chicago, Ill. : University of Chicago Press. Bettes, B. A. , Dusenbury, L. , Kerner, J. , James-Ortiz, S. , ; Botvin, G. J. (2004). Ethnicity and psychosocial factors in alcohol and tobacco use in African-American males. Child Development, 61, 557-565. Brook, J. S. , Balka, E. B. , Gursen, M. D. , Brook, D. W. , Shapiro, J. , ; Cohen, P. (2000). Young adults’ drug use: A 17-year longitudinal inquiry of antecedents. Psychological Reports, 80, 1235-1251. Brook, J. S. , Brook, D. W.
, Gordon, A. S. , Whiteman, M. , & Cohen, P. (2004). The psychosocial etiology of African-American adolescent drug use: A family interactional approach. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 116, 111-267. Brook, J. S. , Whiteman, M. , Balka, E. B. , & Cohen, P. (2000). Drug use and delinquency: Shared and unshared risk factors in African American and Puerto Rican African-American adolescents. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 158, 25-39. Brook, J. S. , Whiteman, M. , Balka, E.
B. , Win, P. T. , & Gursen, M. D. (2000). AfricanAmerican and Puerto Rican drug use: A longitudinal study. Journal of the American Academy of Child and African-American adolescent Psychiatry, 36, 1260-1268. Brook, J. S. , Whiteman, M. , Gordon, A. S. , & Cohen, P. (2000). Changes in drug involvement: A longitudinal study of childhood and African-American adolescent determinants. Psychological Reports, 65, 707-726. Brook, J. S. , Whiteman, M. , Gordon, A. S. , & Cohen, P. (2000). Dy