Dear Slightly Cranky: Thanks for responding. I do appreciate an open discussion on these matters. As I’ve said, with at least 3000 more people killed in 2016 compared to 2014 with little changing in the U.S. but the attitudes between citizens and police (see “Ferguson Effect” research here, here and here), I think it’s very important for the collective health of our nation to be fact-based. And these murder spikes are a real problem for “black and brown lives” because 70% of those murdered were persons of color and 75% of offenders were persons of color.
Yes, I do know math and its “tricky” ways. Such as knowing that Bureau of Justice statistics show 52% of homicides from 1980 to 2005 to are committed by blacks and 45% by whites. The “trick” is knowing that Hispanics/Latinos are omitted from these breakdowns, but 90% of the hidden “Hispanic” category is folded into the “white” category and, likely, 10% of the “Hispanic” category is blended into the “black” category. That’s because Hispanic/Latino is an ethnicity, and approximately 90% are considered “white” for some reason, which you can read more about on a Wikipedia link below.
All I ask is to try this to understand how to read government statistics: Go to Table 43A of 2015’s FBI Uniform Crime Report on arrests. Go to the bottom bar of the first table on the page and scroll to the right. (Yes, there’s a hidden scroll bar, I promise.) Do you see the column “Hispanic or Latino” total based on the row category “Rape” on the far right side, which was previously invisible? It’s 26.8% (for 17% of the population). Take 90% of that figure, which is around 24%, and deduct from the white column of 68%. Final total: 44% of people arrested for rape come from 63% of the European non-Hispanic white population. Do the numbers add up using exact FBI numbers? OK, add 44% (white) to 24% (90% of Hispanic)+ 28.2 (Black or African American, including 10% Hispanic)+ 1.7 (American Indian or Alaska Native)+ 1.6 (Asian)+ 0.5 (Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander) = exactly 100%!
It’s true. The numbers you shared, as well as the government numbers I just mentioned, do NOT have Hispanics/Latinos, which make up 17% of the population, deducted from the white column. That’s because if you look at the FBI figures again, you can see that more than 95% of all crime goes to either “white” or “black.” They include Asians, American Indians and Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders, but where are Hispanics? What’s not clear, but totally accurate, is that 9 out of 10 Hispanic crimes are included in the “white” column in many government reports. “Slightly Cranky” (sorry if this makes you cranky): Your crime data and insinuation that “white people” are a crime problem indicate that you don’t understand this. Frankly, far too many people blinded by ideology or ignorance are inclined to think 63% of the population (European non-Hispanic whites) are committing 67% of motor vehicle theft, which was an example you gave me. Really, it’s more like 43%.
Ditto the Trump-loving right-wingers blinded by racist ideology. They’re wrong, too. During the presidential campaign, Trump Tweeted this graphic which Politifact gave it an unambiguous “pants on fire” status of being filled with lies (none of these stats are correct):
Call it a history of racism — which includes segregation — but it’s true: Statistically in almost all categories except for alcohol-related arrests, whites are underrepresented. That’s simply because they’re not committing as much crime, as my original post simply stated, and that’s why their rate of being shot by police is less. I know it’s hard for some to believe based on how the media (from The Guardian to The Washington Post) and pockets of academia shy away from breaking down statistics accurately and openly. Or they focus almost exclusively on the black victims and their perceived injustices in the system, like the New York Times does constantly, omitting the other 75% of people that are also shot and killed, with surely a few “unjust” shootings in the mix. But in whole numbers, yes, this is true: 63% of the population are 50% shot and killed by police (white) and 13% of the population are 25% shot and killed by police (black). And that’s not an unreasonable breakdown, and in fact, may be highly favorable to black lives.
Race and crime is undoubtedly controversial. But unfortunately, it leads to a mistakes and assumptions, especially when reading reliable crime data from the FBI.
These are immutable facts: Disproportionately, blacks commit far more — and Hispanics slightly more — violent crime compared to whites. Thus, their share of use of force mostly matches those rates, which I’ve broken down and analyzed before.
I was attempting to get this accurate data out publicly in March 2016 when I wrote my first Medium essay (which I may point out, has 67 reads compared to this post’s 1,200 reads):
White people and black people, as individual demographic sets, are roughly 40% of those in prison and 40% of criminals and crime victims in many categories. But police in 2015 killed more than 1000 persons, 10% unarmed (90 total in 2015, according to the Washington Post), and about 50% were white and 25% were black.
Then there’s the 20% increase in murders the past two years which criminologists like Mark Kleiman call a “serious problem.” That’s the reason I share this data: Because black lives DO matter, and those lives are extinguishing at an accelerated rate since Michael Brown and Ferguson, and not by cops. A prime example is the one-year 300 murder increase in my hometown of Chicago, where 95% of people murdered are black or Hispanic and 9 out of 10 crimes reported by third parties are by minority resident offenders (see side bar).
Now, I can’t explain why a police officer told kindergarten children about how not to get shot by police (a child actually vomited?), but I would consider that particular age-inappropriate comment an anomaly; and I would hope junior high and high school kids are taught to show their hands and cooperate with police. That single lesson would go so much further in saving lives than all the pressure against police unions that Black Lives Matter can muster.
What I can explain is what I gave as an important Medium link in my previous reply that you may have missed. I’d guess that nearly everyone who reads FBI statistics will assume “white” is “European white” in that category, and not imagine that 90% of Hispanics/Latinos are that group, too. So I thought I would explain it all in one place as a helpful tutorial:
What is “White” Crime?
(There was a third edit in October 2017, for a final polish of this page — completely with helpful bullet points. The…
In that Medium post, I link here with the following excerpt:
White Hispanic and Latino Americans - Wikipedia
Based on the definitions created by the Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Census Bureau, the concepts of…
The respondents in the “some other race” category are reclassified as white by the Census Bureau in its official estimates of race. This means that more than 90% of all Hispanic or Latino Americans are counted as “white” in some statistics of the US government.
Thus, what you wrote below should have approximately 16–24% shaved off percentages of most categories, otherwise you get exaggerated and incorrect stats like the following:
“Meanwhile, in the United States, the number of arrests for rape is 68 % white people, aggravated assault 67% white people, burglary 68% white people, larceny 69% white people, motor vehicle theft 67% white people, and we seem to specialize in arson, because that is 73% white people. Oh, also “other” sex offences over 73%, and drug abuse violations 70%, 66% of offences against family and children, 82% of DUI charges. Aggregate data for violent crime — majority white people.” — Slightly Cranky to David Shuey, Jan 13, 2017
Unless you’re including Hispanics with non-Hispanics and honestly mention that group compromises around 80% of the country’s human population, then your data is misleading.
You did mention some correct stats. I once wrote in my analysis of Roland Fryer’s data on police shootings, and President Obama used this figure (while getting others wrong), that the “current systemic arguments of racial discrimination against black people [include] prison terms (10% longer sentences for blacks compared to whites).” I then add what that study really means: “10% longer sentences on average means that all things being equal, a white man may get 9 years in prison to a black man’s 10-year sentence, according to a University of Michigan Law School study.” So when we talk injustices in the criminal justice system, this is the most glaring one to me as it controls for behavior.
ADDENDUM: How I Got that First Statistic in the First Paragaph
I wrote this: “70% of those murdered were persons of color and 75% of offenders were persons of color.” I want people to know that:
- It’s true
- It’s very difficult to find breakdowns other than Black/White. I’ve yet to discover on the internet or in research the homicide percentages broken out by White/Black/Hispanic/Asian/Indigenous. (Although, I’m sure they’re around somewhere.)
Google “demographics of homicide victims” and come up with very little — even under “image” searches for pie charts, tables, etc. For European non-Hispanic whites, 30% is the likely estimate, as well as being 26% of murderers (being murdered slightly more than share of killing themselves). This is corroborated by murder victim rate from the Violence Policy Center and CDC (Center for Disease Control & Prevention) data:
16,121 annual homicides — 11,208 firearm homicides SOURCE: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/homicide.htm
The Hispanic homicide victimization rate in 2010 was 5.73 per 100,000; white = 2.52 per 100,000; black = 19.47 per 100,000
(Based upon U.S. Department of Justice and CDC statistics)
With above numbers, I calculated whole numbers and approximate percentages. The rates may be slightly high,because the arithmetic comes to around 17,000 and not CDC’s 16,161. These are my approximate percentages broken down because I’ve yet to find anyone else on the interwebs doing so:
- Black — 13% of population has 8000 murders = 47%
- White — 63% of population has 5000 murders = 29%
- Hispanic — 17% of population has 3000 murders= 18%
- All others= Asian (5.6 %) + Native American (.9%)+ Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (.5%)— 7% of population has 800–1000 murders = 6% *
*=Note that Asian Americans have among the lowest rate of murders and Native Americans among the highest rates.
Again: 83% of whites kill whites and 91% of blacks kill blacks, according to U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Thus, a black person is approximately 31 times more likely to be killed by another black person than a cop, and for a white person they’re 7 times more likely to be killed by another white person than a cop.