P.S. You ask a very important question. Why does it matter to us to show that racial bias isn’t overwhelming. One, I think it’s important because it’s factually incorrect. But second, I think it leads to more death in the black community, and that’s not what I want. The dissolving of the insitutions has increased murder, I believe, in my town of Chicago, and it upsets me greatly. But also: I think Trump and the right has fed off this focus on “identity politics” and extreme re-branding of justice in the modern day. This isn’t “The New Jim Crow” at all — it’s much more complex. But I do think the “Ferguson Effect” of lack of trust in police = more people die than what police are doing. I mean: With all the hyper-focus on police they’re still going to kill the same # of people as last year: About 1000. And they’re going to be 50% white and 25% black, just like last year. And that 25% is less than their interaction points built upon actual crime, not spin or “The War on Drugs.” (Which I’m 100% against.)
Here’s my longer reason & justification:
“The 13th” and its Glaring Omission: Actual Crime that Mirrors Demographics
While Ava DuVarney’s movie asks important questions on incarceration, it ignores reasons why we lock people up a majority of people in the first place (hint: It’s not drugs)
[end of article full of stats and primary sources]
In Conclusion: More Left Unsaid in Movies, Media & Academia
Could we consider it the law of unintended consequences that at the same moment many Americans believe police are reacting violently due to racial BIAS and not the BEHAVIOR they face, that crime is also increasing? With a double-digit growth in the homicide rate for two consecutive years — again, estimated at 10% and 13% — that averages out to 1500 and 2000 more people killed each year. Half of those are black lives. “Nationally, the murder rate is projected to increase 31.5 percent from 2014 to 2016,” according to the Brennan Center for Justice’s Crime Analysis 2016. Who talks about these numbers? Bias doesn’t create that.
Police officer’s lethal use of force leads to about 1000 deaths annually, with 10% of persons shot being “unarmed” and four out of 10 of them being African American. But that doesn’t always mean attackers are not lethally dangerous. A handful of the most tragic outcomes involving Black Americans we collectively mourn, witness and interpret on TV and social networks, though why do we never hear about the 60%-75% of them who aren’t non-Hispanic black? (Approximately 60% of people shot and killed “unarmed” aren’t black, and ditto 75% of all people killed by law enforcement, according to the Washington Post, which is about 750 victims.)
There will be negligible changes this year compared to last year in terms of the demographics of who is killed by police. No difference in the total, either. Last year, The Guardian calculated that 27% of people killed by police were black, and so far this year it’s 24%. About 1000 will be shot and killed again, 500 white, 250 black, and the rest Hispanic/Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander or Native American. We may hear a monthly news story of someone shot or hurt by police — always black — but we won’t hear how quite possibly 90% or more are justified. Nor will they write about the dramatic circumstances of each interaction or the localized crime rate that parallels the demographics of the person shot. In short, we as an American public are being shortchanged on context.
The reason black-on-black crime — or crimes committed by African Americans — may be brought up isn’t always racism, though racists love to blindly trot it out. I suggest another reason. It is because it best explains interaction points with police, which I argue should be a fundamental context to be mentioned whenever disparities are hyped in the media. African Americans (13% of the population) are about 25% of the people killed by police. Black Americans are also 27% of the arrests (just below 40% for violent crimes) and around 50% of persons getting killed (and doing the killing) in U.S. society.
Non-Hispanic White Americans (63% of the population) are about 50% of the people killed by police. But they’re around 55% of all arrests, according to FBI data (again, absorb 90% of Hispanic/Latino crime data into the “White” column or else you get some Sally Kohn false numbers). Non-Hispanic whites also responsible for around 40% for the most violent crimes and 30% of the total annual murders. Thus, 4% of black homicides are by police, and nearly 12% of white homicides are by police — and for that shocking statistic you can check my math at the bottom of my Medium post defending Chicago police actions based on hard evidence and data, as opposed to their vilification by isolating video content. Until someone proves to me how my data analysis is wrong, I’ll stick by this: Police are in high crime areas doing their prescribed job (occasionally messing up), perhaps, because black lives DO matter to them.
Also, it’s the USA. “We’re #1” on guns to make police hyper-vigilant — one for every man, woman and child in the United States. Well over 50 cops will likely be shot and killed this year, a 50% increase from 2015.
I think it’s time academics and the media start talking about the elephant in the jailhouse room: The Ferguson Effect.