For the past few years, there have been growing racial tensions in the United States, and for a few reasons. The death of Trayvon Martin and the sentencing of his killer, George Zimmerman was extremely controversial; and then pressure from that erupted down the road when Michael Brown was killed by police officer Darren Wilson, sparking riots and protests around the country and on college campuses, and effectively throwing Baltimore into and ongoing state of civil unrest. Since then, there has been a chain of controversial police killings of black people surfacing every month or two that have refreshed the anger. The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter has achieved immense popularity, as well as a good deal of infamy.
As I understand it, there are two main facets to this movement. First is the concern that police brutality is too common in America and needs addressing, from a number of angles. In the past couple of years, there have been considerations of implementing new training and new technologies to make law-enforcement less brutal while keeping the job as safe as possible for police officers. These seem to be a good way forward. What is a problem is the other component of the movement. Which is a sustained bombardment of faulty accusations of racism as well as an unwillingness to acknowledge the facts concerning law enforcement and Black Americans.
The evidence that is typically brought out is that Blacks are killed by police at astonishing rates. That per capita analyses reveal that a given Black person is nearly three times as likely to be killed by police as a given white person. And this is true, and a cause for concern. But the mistake that too many people make is thinking that this is necessarily attributable to racism. It ignores a number of mitigating elements of the equation that need to be addressed before conclusions can be drawn. The most important of which is, in my opinion, racial criminality. The fact that crime is more prominent than the black population than it is in the white population. Due to a variety of factors including economic opportunity and culture. Black people commit crime with much greater frequency than white people do.
In anticipation that this may be more than ruffling a few feathers, I want to take this discussion to a less talked about part of this problem; although Mike Huckabee did recently step in it. And that’s men. Indeed, many people look at the “three times as likely” statistic and have no problem believing that it’s driven by racism. It’s quite uncommon to find someone who sees that men are about fifteen times as likely as women to be victims of police shootings and believe that the issue is sexism. Why is this? Most people know that men are biologically more impulsive, more likely than women to engage in reckless behaviors. We also know that there is a male culture of conflict with other males that often can be physical. And while one could argue that this is indicative of a greater problem in society which needs addressing, it should be very clearly noted (and for others to see), that the problem is not within the policing.
If you can take that on board, then it shouldn’t be difficult to apply the same thinking to the Black American community. There is a high rate of fatherlessness, there is a high rate of poverty, many of their public schools are underfunded, and there is a prevalence of thug culture. Given all of that, it’s quite understandable how young black men would end up in these lifestyles on the wrong side of the law. This is not to say that Black activism are limited in their scopes. Most Black activism does involve addressing these disadvantages. But it’s important to keep in mind that a sense of law and stability is a required condition for sustainable improvement. Chasing police out of Black neighborhoods or otherwise preventing police from catching criminals will only intensify criminality in Black culture. It will increase the number of criminals on the streets, increase the number of illegal guns on the street, increase the number of murders, and give free reign to the gangs.
Black laborers are more likely to fall into the classification of “unskilled”. They were hurt quite a bit by the economic downturn of the past decade. There is a lot of righteous frustration held by many Black people and I think it is a cause for the elevated racial tensions we’re seeing today. Slavery ended one hundred fifty years ago, but we are still living in its hangover. Or perhaps the hangover of its hangover. Either way, if we are going to try to eliminate the lingering disadvantages facing the African American community, it is critical that we not blame those who risk their lives in order to provide it with security.