When Colour Matters: Policing and Hate Crime

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

When Colour Matters: Policing and Hate Crime


  • Berit Wigerfelt Malmö Institute for Studies of Migration, Diversity and Welfare, Malmö University, 205 06 Malmö, Sweden
  • Anders S. Wigerfelt Malmö Institute for Studies of Migration, Diversity and Welfare, Malmö University, 205 06 Malmö, Sweden
  • Jenny Kiiskinen Malmö Institute for Studies of Migration, Diversity and Welfare, Malmö University, 205 06 Malmö, Sweden


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Abstract:  Contrary to the image of Sweden as a tolerant, colour-blind and non-racial country, which is based on the narrative of a country for instance associated with solidarity with the so-called Third World; in this article we argue that racial attributes, e.g. visible differences, account for people’s different life possibilities and circumstances in Swedish society. This article explores and discusses whether, and if so why, people who belong to the group that is categorised as “non-white”, with an emphasis on Afroswedes, and depicted as racially different, experience being targets of diverse variations of bias-based policing, harassment and hate crime. Theories relating to colonial stereotypes, racism, doing difference, the geography of hate, race/ethnicity profiling and intersectionality are used to analyse our material. Based on individual and focus group interviews with “non-whites”, this article discusses how visible differences are highlighted in different kinds of social contexts. The interview results show that people with dark skin are often targets of different kinds of private and public policing based on race- and ethnicity profiling that often occurs on or near borders/boundaries. When those who are targets of racial harassment and exclusion resist such treatment, e.g. by crossing borders/boundaries, they are at risk of becoming victims of hate crime.

Keywords:  borders; hate crime; private policing; public policing; race and ethnicity profiling

Published:   21 April 2014


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v2i1.31


© The author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.