A Study of Intra-Racial Violence Among Black Males: A Matter of "Diss"Respect

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Virginia Tech


Utilizing qualitative methodology, this study examines how, from their perspective, a sample of lower-class black men ages 20-35 justify their participation in violent confrontations and define the concept of disrespect. The purpose of this study is to glean whether or not a relationship exists between the rationales offered for participating in violent confrontations and being "dissed." This study also seeks to examine the interpersonal dynamics that compose a violent confrontation, shifting the level of analysis from macro-level arguments of the past. The research demonstrates that the rationales for interpersonal violence surround four themes: (1) Self-defense; (2) trespassing on territory; (3) acting in the defense of third parties; and (4) threatening behavior. It was declared by the respondents that the following actions were found to be disrespectful: (1) verbal insults/derogatory comments/mockery directed at the individual or a third party, openly or covertly; (2) being yelled at; (3) threats of physical harm or violence directed at the individual or a third party; and finally (4) physical infringements on personal boundaries and/or territories real or perceived. The findings of the study suggest that the actions identified by the respondents as their rationales for participating in violent confrontations are largely consistent with behaviors, verbalizations and/or gestures that they defined as being disrespectful. Findings deduced from this study resulted in the construction of a model of how disrespect potentially leads to violent confrontations. Subsequent to the research this study contrasts its findings with the subculture of violence theory postulated by Wolfgang and Ferracuti (1967), thereby demonstrating the need for an expansion of the initial corollaries.



intra-racial violence, interpersonal violence, black-on-black violence, disrespect