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Marked Men (NYU Press 2024)

Examines Black Americans’ suspicion about the potential political harassment of Black elected officials

In Marked Men, Nyron N. Crawford offers a novel perspective on political scandal, corruption, and racial politics in the United States. Contrary to traditional beliefs that politicians are forgiven for their transgressions because of the benefits they provide their constituents, Crawford argues that Black Americans view political misdeeds by Black elected officials through a lens of suspicion towards the criminal legal system.

Crawford’s work reveals that Black Americans often question the motivations behind investigations and indictments of Black politicians, expressing concern that such actions by the state are intended to undermine, embarrass, and harass Black leaders. Through a mixed-method approach including experiments, case studies, and survey data, Crawford illustrates that racialized suspicion shapes the way Black voters rally to protect their embattled Black political representatives.

The book challenges conventional wisdom by highlighting how a tolerance of corruption is not the driving force behind the support for wayward politicians. Instead, racialized mistrust of the criminal justice system plays a pivotal role. By shedding light on this dynamic, Marked Men examines the complexities of political scandals and the intricate interplay between race and politics in contemporary America. The study calls for a deeper understanding of the motivations and attitudes of Black voters, prompting readers to reconsider prevailing assumptions about political accountability and forgiveness in the context of race.

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