Fiery exchange on CNN. Frustrating to watch, yet socially relevant to the discussion on race in America. It embodies nearly every recent conversation on race and policing that I’ve seen since the emergence of the #BLM vs #anythingBUTBLM movements. It centers on the issue of Black Crime. There is usually an appeal to inherent Black criminality, hero worship, debasement of anyone that decries police brutality or authority, coupled with facts oft bereft of context to justify belief. This discussion plays out repeatedly in social media circles from the well-educated to the Google-informed.
Readers should note, that members on the CNN panel almost scream past each other with an inability to find the common ground, assuming they were looking for it. However, they were locked in America’s racial dance of blame, which exposed the real culprits behind some of the myopic statements in the video; pride, lack of context or evasion, and questionable motives.
I won’t do a full analysis of the video (link below), since it’s worth seeing yourself. However, as a Black man in America, I’d like to respond to the attack of inherent or biological Black criminality, which the video fails to address:
Yes, Blacks kill Blacks, just as Whites kill Whites, although at a higher rate, and intra-racial crime is a problem for everyone, though its trending downward. Unfortunately, sometimes race plays a factor in sentencing, use of force, freedom, etc.., a la the swimming rapist guy. It’s unreasonable to believe a Black person, regardless of the color of the victim, would experience the same treatment when we have strong evidence to the contrary, hence the outcry of unequal justice. What is also true, is that Black and Brown neighborhoods have higher crime rates, except when controlled for income (the missing piece in the sketchy narrative the panelist paints). For example, though both are heavily populated by Blacks, Windsor Hills, CA’s crime stats don’t mirror Compton’s. If biology were the primary factor, we should expect to see similar stats, yet we do not. Humans are resilient and given opportunity and displacement, behaviors change. That’s why despite his colorful criminal past, Jay-Z is no longer slinging on a corner. Perhaps, crime might be a byproduct of socioeconomic status and lack of opportunity, rather than a function of race. Consider that when our species suffers from a lack of resources, not unlike other organisms, we become defensive and territorial, taking more aggressive postures. Humans, like other animals, do this as a challenge response that elicits an expected observable response, especially in young males.
Race is not the causative factor, it is a confounding one.
Now, there is a conversation to be had about reducing crime to the point where police are no longer needed in Black communities. Sure. I’d welcome that, but first we might have to create organizations that focus on the Advancement of Colored People, reaching into Black communities getting them employed, educated, empowered, addressing some of the aforementioned socioeconomic ills, and the lingering racism, etc.. Except, that’s usually met with accusations of REVERSE racism or outright destruction, such as Rosewood or Black Wall Street. A conundrum.
Which brings us back to the issue of motivation. Without acknowledging or defining proper context, the argument can’t be fully examined for honest responses or solutions. However, what I’ve found is that many of the people we argue with, especially online, aren’t always interested in change. They’re just interested in being right.
Maybe those are additional facts might help you with your discussions. Regardless, remember there is always more to the story than just the numbers .
Context matters. Great Book Recommendation: “How to Lie with Statistics.”