Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Justice Studies

First Advisor

Judah Schept

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies

Second Advisor

Victoria E. Collins

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies

Third Advisor

Travis Linnemann

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies


It is said that the Unites States is a post-racial society where race doesn't matter and colorblind rhetoric is used as a defense mechanism for perceived or committed discriminatory acts toward black people. In theory, color-blind ideology would help to eliminate racism by treating people equally without regard to race or ethnicity. In practice, colorblindness completely ignores the historical context of race in this country. Under the ideology of colorblindness, overt racism is translated into cultural criminalization. Laws and policies that are seemingly non-sinister nonetheless target the black population by using non-descript language and images associated with blackness. Research has shown how the connections between criminality and blackness were manufactured and, over time, made into a kind of common sense about crime. But this work does not necessarily extend an analysis to the ways that these same ideologies about race and crime have inscribed other social realms, have been reinforced by broader dominant society, and have been internalized by the targeted group. My research aims to connect the history of ideology and race to other social institutions outside of the criminal legal system and demonstrate the detriment to the black community that occurs in and through constructs of beauty and professionalism. Using grooming and dress code policies in places of employment and school systems, this paper illustrates how we not only criminalize, but also, devalue and demonize perceived cultural representations of blackness and what that means for society as a whole, especially the black community.