Wednesday, July 31, 2013

'Black on black crime' and conservative ethnocentrism

BY /Detroit News blog
After the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin, I penned an article on the Bizarro World the conservative media has created where racism no longer exists in the U.S. – except for black racism against whites. “If there’s one thing conservatives hate, it’s when they are called out for being racist,” I began in that post.
Boy, did the commenters prove me right.
The tone was varied but the vitriol was obvious. My personal favorites were the suggestion that I “become an expat” and another calling me a “lying sack of (expletive).” While these are both eloquently stated solid arguments, they leave little in the way of substantive conversation. But there were two points that did merit further discussion: cherry-picking data and “black on black crime.”
First, contrary to the conservative media spin on this legal case, there was a national interest in a young man being murdered and no one being charged for his death – even though the murderer admitted to pulling the trigger. If Trayvon Martin were your son or daughter wouldn’t you want someone to be arrested for their death? Wouldn’t you want a trial to determine if a jury believed the Stand Your Ground defense held up in court?
The attention in this case was not that a “white” guy killed a “black” kid – as many would have you believe. It was a commentary on the failure of the justice system – in particular how African Americans are often on the receiving end of these injustices.
Some commenters took issue with my statistics. While true, they felt my application was insincere because I didn’t present additional information – as though the conservative media they parrot is known for their thorough analysis of data.
For example Ann Coulter stated “half of all murders and a majority of robberies are committed by blacks” and then goes on to talk about how George Zimmerman followed Trayvon Martin because of burglaries in the area. By using the statistics for murders and robberies Ann is attempting to paint African Americans as inherently criminal, because if she used statistics regarding burglaries she would have had to note that whites, not blacks, commit the vast majority of burglaries.
Rather than question her manipulation of data, the conservative media runs with the story and we get a new conservative talking point: “Black on black crime.”
Bill O’Reilly, for example, stated that 91 perent of homicides against African Americans were committed by other African Americans. He went on to say this number was “astronomical” and compared these killings to a “Holocaust.” It should also be noted that 85 percent of homicides against whites were committed by other whites. Odd that 91 percent is tantamount to genocide – yet 85 percent isn’t worth talking about.
The reality is the “black on black crime” is just a way for some people to justify their racism. If preventing murders had a singular, universally-accepted solution then murder rates would be a relevant stat. Unfortunately, the murder rate is the result of many circumstances which means improvements in this statistic will require an array of changes. For instance;
According to a study by the Ohio State University, “the violent crime rate in highly disadvantaged black areas was 22 per 1,000 residents, not much different from the 20 per 1,000 rate in similar white communities.”
So while conservatives whine that black leaders aren’t addressing the “black on black crime” issue, the reality is that black leaders have been pounding the pavement for years about the need to improve circumstances for the African American community which would ameliorate the crime statistics conservatives claim black leaders are ignoring.
If conservative America truly wants to put claims of racism in the rear view mirror they have to stop having conversations that begin with, “I’m not racist, but blacks are criminals,” and start considering the plight of African Americans when whites aren’t involved.
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