Underground Codes

Race, Crime and Related Fires

175 pages

February, 2004

ISBN: 9780814775417



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Katheryn Russell-Brown is Professor of Law and Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations at the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law. She is the author of Protecting Our Own: Race, Crime, and African Americans and Underground Codes: Race, Crime, and Related Fires (NYU Press).

All books by Katheryn Russell-Brown

Winner of a 2005 Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award (Honorable Mention)

Americans fear crime, are rattled by race and avoid honest discussions of both. Anxiety, denial, miscommunication, and ignorance abound. Imaginary connections between minorities and crime become real, self-fulfilling prophecies and authentic links to race, class, gender and crime go unexplored. Katheryn Russell-Brown, author of the highly acclaimed The Color of Crime, makes her way through this intellectual minefield, determined to shed light on the most persistent and perplexing domestic policy issues.

The author tackles a range of race and crime issues. From outdated research methods that perpetuate stereotypes about African Americans, women, and crime to the over hyped discourse about gangsta rap and law breaking, Russell-Brown challenges the conventional wisdom of criminology. Underground Codes delves into understudied topics such as victimization rates for Native Americans—among the highest of any racial group—and how racial profiling affects the day-to-day lives of people of color.

Innovative, well-researched and meticulously documented, Underground Codes makes a case for greater public involvement in the debate over law enforcement—and our own language—that must be heard if we are to begin to have a productive national conversation about crime and race.


  • "Katheryn Russell-Brown's newest work highlights the unique ways that race, culture, and criminal justice issues operate across communities of color and within them. Her study of these issues raises important questions and draws the critical distinctions between fact and fiction for our understanding and ultimate liberation."

    —Paula C. Johnson, Syracuse University College of Law, author of Inner Lives: Voices of African American Women in Prison

  • "In Underground Codes, Katheryn Russell-Brown confirms her position as one of the nation's leading authorities on race and crime. Underground Codes is a must-read for anyone interested in how race and racism affect the criminal justice system."

    —Professor Angela J. Davis, American University Washington College of Law

  • "Underground Codes is well written and thoroughly researched."

    Black Issue Book Review

  • "This book should be taken as a challenge to do our jobs: to assess critically the 'many issues involving crime and race that are overlooked, misunderstood and falsely linked.' It succinctly and critically summarizes the extant literature that purports to shed light on the race/crime nexus."

    Contemporary Sociology

  • "Russell-Brown challenges the convetional wisdom of criminology."

    Black Issues in Higher Education