Proving that some people aren’t interested in having a much-needed conversation on race, within the media, said much-needed conversation has turned into a conversation on black-on-black crime. If I didn’t know any better it would be easy for me to conclude that racism only exists in America because black people are killing each other. Yes, don’t worry about racism because black crime is a larger issue.
Is that not the way with black pathology?
Forget about the Middle Passage and the petty theft that was slavery and what some call the raping of a continent. Yes, never mind that minor infraction as a contributing factor. What’s important to promote, for some, is that black people killing black people — because their aren’t any other crimes beside murder — is a much deeper contributing factor to our collective demise. And, if we black people could just simply get it together and solve that major problem, racism — whether systemic or otherwise — will all fade away like the sound of old Negro spirituals in cotton fields.
Sounds silly? Considering that some have identified the root of the black-on-black crime problem to be out-of-wedlock births in the black community, yes. Okay, so maybe it’s a contributing factor to poverty in already impoverished communities. But let’s not kid ourselves: said impoverished communities exist as a product of a system enforced by public policy that renders economically disadvantaged people somewhat hopeless. Just ask anyone from the hood if given a chance would they love to live in a much nicer neighborhood. I’m willing to bet that in most cases they would say yes. Why? Because the sad truth is that to live in poverty is a very expensive existence.
But no, if black women would just listen to white men like Bill O’Reilly and stopped f*cking, all would be well in black America. It’s as though out-of-wedlock births do not exist in dominant culture, hence their civility and our lack of humanity. The irony of this is that at one point in time, black women were
raped encouraged to have children so as to provide that cheap… oops, I meant free labor, to drive the engine of America’s economy. But I guess with the prison industrial complex booming, nothing has changed.
In the aftermath of the acquittal of George Zimmerman, Eric Holder, Al Sharpton and Ben Jealous of the NAACP are calling on the black community to rise up in national protest.
Yet they know nothing is going to happen.
“Stand-Your-Ground” laws in Florida and other states are not going to be repealed. George Zimmerman is not going to be prosecuted for a federal “hate crime” in the death of Trayvon Martin.
The result of all this ginned-up rage that has produced vandalism and violence is simply going to be an ever-deepening racial divide.
Consider the matter of crime and fear of crime.
From listening to cable channels and hearing Holder, Sharpton, Jealous and others, one would think the great threat to black children today emanates from white vigilantes and white cops.
Hence, every black father must have a “conversation” with his son, warning him not to resist or run if pulled over or hassled by a cop.
Make the wrong move, son, and you may be dead is the implication.
But is this the reality in Black America?
When Holder delivered his 2009 “nation-of-cowards” speech blaming racism for racial separation, Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald suggested that our attorney general study his crime statistics.
In New York, from January to June 2008, 83 percent of all gun assailants were black, according to witnesses and victims, though blacks were only 24 percent of the population. Blacks and Hispanics together accounted for 98 percent of all gun assailants. Forty-nine of every 50 muggings and murders in the Big Apple were the work of black or Hispanic criminals.
New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly confirms Mac Donald’s facts. Blacks and Hispanics commit 96 percent of all crimes in the city, he says, but only 85 percent of the stop-and-frisks are of blacks and Hispanics.
And these may involve the kind of pat-downs all of us have had at the airport.
Is stop-and-frisk the work of racist cops in New York, where the crime rate has been driven down to levels unseen in decades?
According to Kelly, a majority of his police force, which he has been able to cut from 41,000 officers to 35,000, is now made up of minorities.
But blacks are also, per capita, the principal victims of crime. Would black fathers prefer their sons to grow up in Chicago, rather than low-crime New York City, with its stop-and-frisk policy?
So what does this have to do with white-on-white crime? For starters let’s just say that attempted to shift focus away from a conversation on race and the criminal justice system is indeed racist. And sadly there are many black people who do us no favors by running this conservative playbook. Take conservative commentator Crystal Wright for example. Wright recently wrote that if George Zimmerman was black, very few in the black community would care; and, there would be no collective national outrage. To be fair, this is an argument with which I agree. As I’ve written before, conservatives aren’t interested in solving gun violence. And neither is Wright herself is interested in fixing the problem. What she is interested in is using statistics to point fingers at the black community to reinforce her position in conservative circles as an exceptional Negro.
Sadly, this trial wouldn’t be receiving wall-to-wall national media coverage if Zimmerman was black. That’s what we should be talking about.
Startling statistics reveal that between 1980-2008, African-Americans were six times more likely than whites to be victims of gun violence and seven times more likely to kill with guns than whites, according to the Justice Department. African-Americans represent a mere 13% of the US population yet more than 50% of federal prisoners are black. You can claim racial bias in the judicial system, but that doesn’t explain all of it.
Why aren’t so-called black leaders outraged and marching over therecent shooting rampage in Chicago. During the 4 July holiday weekend, including the Wednesday leading up to it, 62 people were wounded by gun violence in Chicago and 12 others killed. The holiday shooting spree raised Chicago’s homicide tally to 200 for the year. Last year about 500 people were killed, and most of those killing and being killed in Chicago are black. According to the Chicago Tribune, “blacks make up about 33% of the city’s population, they accounted for nearly 78% of the homicide victims through the first six months of 2012”
You see, unlike Wright, I would point out that though the numbers may be correct, things aren’t that much different on the white side of town. Because as Jamelle Bouie recently pointed out: “Yes, from 1976 to 2005, 94 percent of black victims were killed by black offenders, but that racial exclusivity was also true for white victims of violent crime—86 percent were killed by white offenders.” Now if I were hell-bent on advancing an agenda that says something like liberalism has done nothing but destroy the black community as many conservatives often do. Like Wright and others, I too would never mention that 86% of white victims of homicide were killed by someone white. If I were a conservative I’d focus on black-on-black crime so as to stoke the fears and racial resentment of an aging loyal voting block who are overwhelmingly white. Yes, I wouldn’t advance any sensible arguments to explain that crimes in the black community are a component of poverty, opportunity, and proximity. Or the fact as Demos has pointed out recently: By race, overall, crime has been on a steady decline. But hey, being the habitual line-stepper I bring you facts.
Black on Black Crime Facts
- Black on black homicides have decreased by 67% in 20 years, a sharper rate of decrease than white on white homicide.
- According to FBI statistics 7361 Blacks were killed by fellow African-Americans in 1991. In 2011, it dropped dramatically to 2447 African-Americans
- Among black youth, rates of robbery and serious property offenses are the lowest in more than 40 years.
Don’t get me wrong, crime in the black community is a serious issue. As a black man living in the city of Memphis, TN. please believe that I know all too well how crime wrecks the community (read here). However, it’s important to understand that many discussions on black-on-black crime (especially in right-wing media circles) only seeks to deflect from the very real issue that is the inequality that exists in the criminal justice system.
Racial Inequality in the Criminal Justice System Facts
- African Americans were 2 times as likely to be arrested and almost 4 times as likely to experience the use of force during encounters with the police.
- In the federal system black offenders receive sentences that are 10% longer than white offenders for the same crime.
- 5 times as many Whites are using drugs as African Americans, yet African Americans are sent to prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of Whites
- African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of Whites
- African American juvenile youth are about 16% of the youth population, 37% of their cases are moved to criminal court & 58% of convicted African American youth are sent to adult prisons.
- Controlling for other factors, including severity of the offense and prior criminal history, white men aged 18-29 were 38% less likely to be sentenced to prison than their black male peers
- African American women are 3 times more likely than white women to be incarcerated
- African American defendants are 21% more likely to receive mandatory-minimum sentences than Whites and are 20% more like to be sentenced to prison
Though you may not agree with anything I’ve said to this point, it’s important to know that the facts are quite clear. Inequality along racial lines exists, and it is an all too real experience for many people of color. In my opinion, we didn’t need the Zimmerman verdict to serve as proof of this.
Because as Jamelle Bouie also writes:
If African-Americans are more likely to be robbed, or injured, or killed by other African-Americans, it’s because they tend to live in the same neighborhoods as each other. Residential statistics bear this out (PDF); blacks are still more likely to live near each other or other minority groups than they are to whites. And of course, the reverse holds as well—whites are much more likely to live near other whites than they are to minorities and African-Americans in particular.
Overall, figures from a variety of institutions—including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Justice Statistics—show that among black youth, rates of robbery and serious property offenses are at their lowest rates in 40 years, as are rates of violent crime and victimization. And while it’s true that young black men are a disproportionate share of the nation’s murder victims, it’s hard to disentangle this from the stew of hyper-segregation (often a result of deliberate policies), entrenched poverty, and nonexistent economic opportunities that characterizes a substantial number of black communities. Hence the countless inner-city anti-violence groups that focus on creating opportunity for young, disadvantaged African-Americans, through education, mentoring, and community programs. Blacks care intensely about the violence that happens in their communities. After all, they have to live with it.
Because many of us have been having these discussions for “donkey years,’ as my Trinidadian mother would say. As long as this blog has existed we’ve attempted to bring to you stories that highlight this issue. Heck, and there are many not-so-high profile stories that we’ve missed just like the media has. Beyond that, if there’s anything to be learned from this post is that we have the choice to either be a part of the problem, or a part of the solution. To be honest, not telling the truth about crime on both sides of the divide is in fact counterproductive and hinders progress. To that point, I’m glad that left-wing media isn’t concerned with white out-of-wedlock births as a solution to white-on-white crime problem in America. Oh, that’s right, white supremacy ain’t havin’ it, son.