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The Interaction of Race and Gender as a Significant Driver of Racial Arrest Disparities for African American Men


The mass incarceration of African Americans is both a driver of racial health inequalities in the USA. Systemic social biases which associate African American men with criminality, violence, and as a particular threat to white women may partially explain their over-representation in the criminal justice system. We combined data from the Washington, DC Metro Police Department (MPD) and the American Community Survey to test whether neighborhood-level gender, race, and economic makeup were associated with elevated drug-related arrest disproportions for African American men. We found that African American men were significantly overrepresented in all drug-related arrests across the District, and that this arrest disproportion was significantly higher in neighborhoods that had a higher percentage of white female residents. The association between race and gender was somewhat attenuated, but not completely eliminated, when we introduced socio-economic variables to our model. Addressing the social determinants of criminal justice disparities must account for the intersection of race, gender, and economics, rather than considering race in isolation.

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This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, grant number K01MH112436 (PI: Fielding-Miller) and T32DA023356 (PI: Strathdee), as well as a Loan Repayment Award contract to Dr. Fielding-Miller from the National Institutes of Minority Health and Health Disparities.

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Correspondence to Rebecca Fielding-Miller.

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Fielding-Miller, R., Cooper, H.L.F., Caslin, S. et al. The Interaction of Race and Gender as a Significant Driver of Racial Arrest Disparities for African American Men. J Urban Health 97, 112–122 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11524-018-00325-1

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  • Substance use
  • Health disparities
  • Racism
  • Structural drivers
  • Incarceration