Why "Black-on-Black Crime" is a Dangerous Idea

 

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In writing about the myth of “black-on-black crime” this week, I’ve gotten a huge number of responses, from both sides. The disagreement, in particular, has taken the form of incredulousness. For example, here’s Rod Dreher of the The American Conservative, who says that the Zimmerman verdict has caused me to “lose my mind”:

Jamelle Bouie today wrote a Daily Beast post tied to the Trayvon Martin situation, claiming that the fact that nearly all black murder victims in America are killed by blacks just goes to show that there is no such thing as black-on-black crime, and that the concept is ginned up by white people to justify their fear of black masculinity and black criminality. Bouie also says that NYC’s stop-and-frisk program is racist, and not justified by statistics — this, even though NYPD stats show that 96 percent of all shooting victims are black or Hispanic, and 97 percent of all shooters were black or Hispanic.

These statistics are so clear, so consistent, and so overwhelming that it defies rationality to claim that the youth of black males is being stolen by the likes of George Zimmerman. It’s being stolen by other young black men.

No one has said that crime between African Americans isn’t a problem. The point is that blackness has nothing to do with it. “Black-on-black crime” is a frame that presupposes black criminality—that there’s something inherent to blackness which makes intra-group crime more prevalent and more deadly. But that’s nonsense, and all it does is obscure the history that brought us to this point. After a century of anti-black violence and public policy—of manufactured ghettos, forced hyper-segregation, and state-supported peonage—is economic perilousness and heightened violence among the victims and descendants of those people really a shock? And if it isn’t, then why would talk about crime in these communities as a factor of blackness, and not of history and circumstance?

The only thing we accomplish by focusing on “black-on-black crime” as an independent phenomena—distinct from “white-on-white crime”—is justify universal suspicion of black men, and young black men, in particular. This is a problem. It’s absolutely true that “NYPD stats show that 96 percent of all shooting victims are black or Hispanic, and 97 percent of all shooters were black or Hispanic,” but it’s also true that the number of black and Latino offenders is a small fraction of all blacks and Latinos. But stop and frisk turns all blacks and all Latinos into potential offenders—it erases individual consideration and imposes collective suspicion.

This alone should make the program indefensible. When you add data to the mix—in 2012, New York police made 532,911 stops, in 89 percent, there was no criminal activity found, and in only 0.2 percent did the police find guns—it’s hard to see how you could support the policy, much less justify the universal scrutiny of all black and Latino men. And it’s worth noting that this blanket suspicion makes it harder to police communities. A reader explains:

I’ve been a cop for 5 years. I work one of the worst neighborhoods in the city, a predominantly black housing development. In that 5 years I’ve steadily built a rapport with the community, one based on transparency—being frank and open with everyone I talk to, both about police matters and sometimes my own thoughts and tastes.

When an event like the Martin v Zimmerman one occurs, all that rapport goes to hell. All my work is ruined, and my relationship with the people I serve is injured.Instead of being “Cody” or “Red” or “The Flash”, I go back to just being that fucking white cop in the community’s eyes.

Stop and frisk is both racist and damaging to actual police work. Why defend it?

Before I finish this, one last word on Dreher. “It’s being stolen by other young black men.” No one believes that the only threat to young black men comes from the “likes of George Zimmerman.” No one. What we’re trying to say is this: The manufactured image of rampant black male criminality creates fear, and that fear leads people to profile (stop and frisk), barricade themselves (gated communities), and confront individual black men because they must be up to something (George Zimmerman: “Those fucking punks always get away.”).

Not only do black men have to live lives aware of that fear, but they have to be conscious of the fact that—in the wrong situation, at the wrong time, with the wrong person—it could get them killed. And that’s what’s been stolen: The right to walk freely as an individual, and not as the member of a suspect class.

Comments

But you SEE...the FACTS REMAIN.....a disproportion of ALL violent crimes are committed by GANG-BANGING, DRUG DEALING, THUGS with their BLING-BLING and their Tony Montana/Tupac Shakur T-shirts.

That is the problem, Jamelle. This Hollywood/BET promotion of "gangster rap" and "pimpin' tha hoes" DESTROYS YOUR TEPID ARGUMENT.

According to Justice Department statistics 84% of white people killed every year are killed by other whites. So, when are you going to send your daughter to a 100% Black Public School? That is probably the safest place for her to be. At least she'll be protected more by Blacks and her chances of being raped would go down dramatically too. Feel free to answer anytime, you slack jawed mouth breather.

Jamelle Bouie writes:
“'Black-on-black crime' is a frame that presupposes black criminality—"

Does "white-on-white crime" make the same presupposition? Don't think so; don't think either do.

I don't think the phrase affects my perception of the prevalence of criminality of blacks an iota, and I don't think it affects Mr. Bouie's. What affects that perception is the prevalence of criminality among blacks.

SO... if a purportedly white guy shoots a black guy, it must somehow be a microcosm of Race in America Today but if a black guy shoots anybody, white or black, it's a sociological issue which is probably somehow the same thing as ... wait for it... Race in America Today. But we must arrive there without noticing the race of the shooter. Got it. This must be the bold, honest conversation about Race in American Today that Mr. Holder seeks.

How about this instead. The undeniable and well-earned moral satisfaction of the civil rights movement of the 1960s is preferable to an inward look at the state of African American America with special attention to policies and ideologies that ultimately caused more harm than good. That inward look is too painful so the search for some vestigial George Wallace, Lester Maddox or Bull Connor becomes ever more desperate. As long as we can pretend they are out there, then white Americans are still solely responsible and with enough guilt they will somehow fix everything because it's all on them.

You have to know there is something horribly wrong when Al Sharpton is called a "civil rights leader". That he is mentioned in the same breath as MLK and genuine moral leaders is a monstrosity and Exhibit A that it's certainly not white people alone who are preventing the great honest discussion.

Hopefully, the great conversation will also open up the fact that fear-of-the-hoodie is a learned response, not something passed on by Confederate race theorists. Tens of thousands of convenience store employees, several million other crime victims and those made aware of those crimes by personal knowledge or news reports have developed empirically-based expectations. Admittedly, crime victim totals may be inflated. For example, I have been robbed at gunpoint, burglarized and subjected to two other robbery attempts-- all by young black males so presumably I show up multiple times in the FBI stats.

Lastly, the honest discussion would have to take note of the fact in the weeks and months of the whole Martin-Zimmerman case, dozens of young black men have been gunned down by other black men and there ain't nobody marching for justice for those victims. Is that selective indifference? Denial? Hypocrisy? Surely we need to discuss that. Honestly.

Your statement, "The disagreement, in particular, has taken the form of incredulousness,” methinks comes from a misunderstanding. Those who disagree with your tenor and approach likely have a different ultimate goal. An analogy from Covey may be appropriate: when you lose your keys you look where you dropped them, not under the lamppost because you can see there. If you were at all concerned with the crimes you would be actively investigating and discussing the 97% (where you dropped the keys). But when that is not the objective, there is no reason to do that (might as well look under the light where I can be seen). As long as there is money to be made by creating a furball over the 3% “racist” crimes, no one will be concerned about the real issue.
500 plus kids killed last year in Chicago, and what do we hear… chirp, chirp, chirp. No money to be made here. But a court case where we do not like the outcome… let the bells ring on high, there’s a buck to be made or extorted!
A shame, really.

Bouie you are an idiot. Black on black crime is a fact. You can blame it on white people all you want. It won't change the fact that most crimes committed in urban areas are committed by blacks. And much of that crime results in dead black people and it is not whites who are killing them. When was the last time that a white guy came into the ghetto and killed a black man. What nonsense. Stop blaming black on black violence on the white man. I am sick of it. And stop celebrating criminal activity with anti-woman rap music, etc. Your full of it. I am one white guy who does not feel guilty about the condition of black America. Jesse Jackson was correct when he said that he is relieved when he is walking down a street, senses someone behind him, and discovers it is a white person. He isn't very likely to be mugged, murdered, etc. with a white person behind him. Too bad he can't say the same if a black person were behind him. Cut out all of your pseudo-intellectual jive and admit the truth.

I am a Black Man, and that's part of the problem. Black people are the only people who are labeled or who self identify primarily by a color. Italians, or Italian Americans don't refer themselves as " white and Chinese people don't refer to themselves as "yellow" and Mexicans or Chicanos don't refer to theselves as "brown people". Now don't get me wrong, there was a time, the 60's and 70s that being Black and Proud was necessary. We needed to feel good about our pigmentation and our connection to a great continent and history: Africa.

Now the law says that we have equal rights as Black people, but psychologically we dobnot as a collective feel equal. We are still a people dazed and struggling from being disenfrachised and stripped of the very things that make a people or culture; lanquage, history, culture, and declared land mass. Additionally the self hate and division that embedded into us as slaves , Willie lynch et al is still ever pervasive today ergo Black people those that inflict Black on Black crime feel less than. As the Tupac Shakir character, Bishop, said in the movie "Juice" if I know I ain't s$%t then you knoe i don't F%K about you. Therefore as simplistic as it sounds Black on Black crime is fostered by Black on Black self hate. Of course the subject ivites further discussion.

You want to discuss Black on Black Crime? Great! Black on Black Crime is the product of years of systematic oppression from the ruling class. Do wealthy or "well off" blacks rob, steal, and desire to kill one another? Of course not. When one exerts the type pressure on a people such as the type that the ruling class has: a. purposefully destroying the black family by selling fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters b. tactfully destroying the black male image c. purposefully denying economic power, social, and political power d. raping the black female for the simple lust of it (sometimes the female was married) e. Jim Crow laws f. Dividing the black race by color (House negro, Field negro, etc. This was done in other colonial attempts in Africa as well such as Rwanda, Congo) g. the effective launch of drugs into the black communities following the civil rights movement. h. blacks have been purposefully taught a euro-centric education that does not represent who they are (cave man stories, history classes, etc)
I could go on for a while but my point is this. These people are not inherently bad or evil. They are born into a system that has been on auto pilot for years that usually pays negative dividends. There is a distinct connection between poverty (mental poverty), and crime. Whites that live in an impoverished state commit atrocities on each other all of the time. AND CHECK THIS OUT, 84% of whites that are killed are killed by whites (justice department stats)! And if you dig deeper, you will learn that whites commit the majority of violent crimes in America. Of course, the media will never publicize any of that. The truth is that crime can 9/10 times be linked to poverty in any race of people. Furthermore, the SOME of the most heinous crimes are linked to whites: Colorado theater shooting, Connecticut shooting, Tuscon shooting, Virginia Tech shooting, Fort Hood shooting, Several sociological explanations for crime suggest that if whites were subjected to the same structural pressures as blacks, well lets just say that we would have a different America.

Oh and btw, imagine if Africans enslaved whites and subjected them to the systematic oppression. Imagine if we raped the women, destroyed the white family, sold the children, destroyed the white male image, separated them by blond hair, black hair, and whatever other ways we could divide them (nose length, cheek bones, etc) and just think about the critical condition that whites would be in today. Can you imagine that? Please, Jim Crow has barely been over 40 years ago. Black people will regroup and once again be strong and united. I am not dangerous and I am working on reversing 400+ years of systemic oppression. I promise you, it won't happen overnight.

You are making excuses for black behavior. The Irish were slaves long before and after blacks. They got on with their lives despite their history and are productive members of society. Many blacks have done the same. Those blacks who are filled with hate, blaming whites for their situation will only change if they decide they want a better life. No more government help as enough is enough. This bunch reflects poorly on law abiding blacks. Sharpton does nothing positive as a black leader as he is another who makes excuses. There is another MLK out there. Go find him or her.

I am not white and I am not black. I am of hispanic ancestry. I just wanted to drop by and suggest you look at the history of the barbary coast slave trade. Africans did indeed enslave white europeans. Keep in mind big media is controlled by the the government and their focus is to divide and conquer to keep us under control. History is history. We all have a responsibility to end racism because all races perpetuate it. In europe countries dont like neighboring countries. It is so much larger then whites and blacks. This is a worldwide, tale as old as time issue. As long as we perpetuate it the governments win. We are all the same, of the same ether and spiritual matter. No one is better than anyone else. Slavery has affected every race. It is historical fact. Lets take back out power and not allow them to divide and conquer.

You make two different points here. One is right and the other is wrong. New York's stop and frisk law is wrong. It would be wrong if it was fairly applied and we all know it's not. But that black on black crime exists? You are making a crazy nonsensical point, a point that shows you have never lived in a crime-ridden black community with all the stressors that come with it. To blame history is ridiculous. There are no whites walking low-income black neighborhoods with whips, ordering blacks to slaughter each other. This present day slaughter is self inspired. Really you are merely following a rational line of bad liberal thought. If it's always the white man, of course then black on black crime is a lie. However the facts tell a totally different story. Whites are using all their political and economic capital to segregate themselves from blacks and with the new immigrants, they don't need black maids or laborers, like they used to in the good old days. Out here in the real world there is black pathology that declares black life is cheap and in that pathology white life is revered. You contribute to the disease when you say whites are the reason blacks kill each other in such high numbers. American whites have done great historical damage to black America, but there is no time machine and none of us can go back. We all must move forward and for me, I move forward with the assumption that blacks are not forever ruined, because of the slave experience and neither is our only cure hidden in the white community. The issue at present then, is the cure and when you talk about blacks killing blacks in black neighborhoods, the problem and the remedy surely lie with black people.

What rubbish. Quit accusing dark on dark assault on the white-colored man. I am tired of it. And prevent enjoying legal action with anti-woman rap songs, etc. Your complete of it. I am one white-colored guy who does not experience accountable about the situation of dark The united states. Mark Fitzgibbons was appropriate when he said that he is treated when he is strolling down a road, feelings someone behind him, and finds it is a white-colored individual. He isn't very likely to be mugged, killed, etc. with a white-colored individual behind him. Too bad he can't say the same if a dark individual were behind him. Cut out all of your pseudo-intellectual jive and confess the fact. Cheap hajj Packages | Cheap flights To Harare

So we shouldn't judge all blacks because of the actions of a small group of blacks. Seems right. Why is it okay to assume that white police officers are racist assassins because of the color of their skin?

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