Enduring Consequences of Dehumanizing Institutions: Slavery and Contemporary Minority Social Control in the U.S. Northeast and South

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Anthropology and Sociology


Social Science and Global Studies


Scholarship on slavery's legacy and enduring consequences has largely been limited to the South under the assumption that this region continues to be more deeply affected by slavery than other regions, notably the Northeast. Also overlooked is the extent to which slavery's consequences generalize beyond Black disadvantage, harming other racialized ethnic minority groups such as Latinos. Scholarship has paid little attention to the role of the state's institutions of social control—notably, law enforcement—in transmitting slavery’s legacy after its formal abolishment. I address these issues using quantitative techniques assessing the relationship between prior slave dependence and contemporary policing practices in U.S. Southern and Northeastern counties. I argue that as a result of slavery's influence on local legal apparatuses and institutions of social control—in areas in the South and Northeast where slave dependence was greater—law enforcement today is less likely to protect minorities, resulting in higher rates of hate crime underreporting by police. Findings reveal slavery’s nefarious consequences disadvantage Black populations but also spillover to Latinos, particularly in the South. In both regions, contemporary Black population concentration mediates slavery’s relationship with the rate of police underreporting of anti-Black crimes.

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Social Problems

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