This study analyses potential role conflict experienced by black law enforcement officers in the context of Black Lives Matter America. The role requirements of men and women who perform their basic role as black members of society and their structural role as law enforcement officers are potentially contradictory due to the discriminatory history of the American policing and criminal justice systems. The Black Lives and Blue Lives Matter movements have contributed to the polarization of those who are pro-police and pro-black lives, potentially increasing experienced role conflict. Role theory predicts that people that experience role conflict may exercise “Voice”, undergo role change either formally or informally, or experience “Loyalty” by more strongly identifying with their structural role. The findings of the study indicate that due to a variety of factors, while most black officers experienced some difficulty connecting with black citizens and an at times exclusive police culture, they did not experience role conflict. The assumption that there is conflict between these two identities in large part comes from the belief that law enforcement is inherently detrimental to the lives of people of color. Due to officer’s perspectives from the “inside,” officers did not see law enforcement in the same light. Officers attributed the issues addressed by the Black Lives Matter movement to the fault of “bad” cops, who disregard police training and do not respect citizens and criminals. Officers also minimized internal conflict by exercising their “voice” and speaking up in moments of injustice.

Type of Work

Thesis - Limited Access

Department or Program



Hamilton College


Bachelor of Arts

Date of Graduation


Faculty Advisor

Jaime Kucinskas


Access to this thesis is limited to Hamilton College, Clinton, NY.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.