Don't White People Kill Each Other, Too?

 Don't White People Kill Each Other, Too?

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 When it comes to America's racial past and present, lies and snake oil are sold in many colors.

In the wake of the Trayvon Martin tragedy, conservatives in media have sought to deflect from the racism and racial profiling that precipitated his untimely death by referencing the broader social malaise of supposed "black-on-black violence."

On last week's episode of This Week on ABC, Washington Post columnist George Will said that despite the Trayvon tragedy, "150 black men are killed every week in this country," and "about 94 percent of them by other black men."

Will parroted arguments made by many conservatives, his intended point being that black-on-black crime remains the real problem our nation should address. The half-truth he spoke went curiously unchallenged by the panel -- including former White House adviser Van Jones -- largely because the meta-narrative of black-on-black violence is widely accepted in journalistic and political circles.

Bill O'Reilly, the Fox News host and one-man propaganda machine, recently interviewed Columbia University professor Marc Lamont Hill to discuss similar claims from Wall Street Journal contributor Shelby Steele, who wrote in "The Exploitation of Trayvon Martin" that "black teenagers are afraid of other black teenagers, not whites." O'Reilly vehemently defended Steele's premise that the Trayvon Martin case is an anomaly.

"Blacks today are nine times more likely to be killed by other blacks than by whites," Steele wrote. He went on to attack the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson for "exploiting" Trayvon's death in an effort to promote a "liberal" agenda -- a point that O'Reilly was all too happy to expound.

Steele's perspective, though myopic and misguided, remains pervasive and embedded in the broader social consciousness. This red-herring approach is not new, but in the face of Trayvon's death -- for which there remains no arrest, no charges and no arraignment -- these obstructive tactics require an equal and opposite response.

What Will, Steele and O'Reilly failed to mention is the exacting truth that white Americans are just as likely to be killed by other whites. According to Justice Department statistics (pdf), 84 percent of white people killed every year are killed by other whites.

In fact, all races share similar ratios. Yet there's no outrage or racialized debate about "white on white" violence. Instead, the myth and associated fear of "black on black" crime is sold as a legitimate, mainstream descriptive and becomes American status quo.

The truth? As the largest racial group, whites commit the majority of crimes in America. In particular, whites are responsible for the vast majority of violent crimes. With respect to aggravated assault, whites led blacks 2-1 in arrests; in forcible-rape cases, whites led all racial and ethnic groups by more than 2-1. And in larceny theft, whites led blacks, again, more than 2-1.

Given this mathematical truth, would anyone encourage African Americans to begin shooting suspicious white males in their neighborhoods for fear that they'll be raped, assaulted or murdered? Perhaps George Zimmerman's defenders should answer that question. If African Americans were to act as irrationally as Zimmerman did, would any rationale suffice to avoid arrest?

And why is no consideration given to the fact that Trayvon Martin, and millions of black boys and girls like him, harbor a reasonably founded fear of whites but are hardly ever provided the deference and dignity that victimhood affords?

The term "black on black" crime is a destructive, racialized colloquialism that perpetuates an idea that blacks are somehow more prone to violence. This is untrue and fully verifiable by FBI, DOJ and census (pdf) data. Yet the fallacy is so fixed that even African Americans have come to believe it.

In Michelle Alexander's book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, she explains that the term was coined in the 1980s as American cities underwent transformation as a result of riots, white flight and the onslaught of the drug trade. David Wilson, a professor at the University of Illinois, documents the phenomena in Inventing Black-on-Black Violence. Wilson says that instead of attributing increased crime activity to poverty, inequality and disenfranchisement, the media chose to blame "a supposedly defective, aberrant black culture."

In a 2010 piece published by The Root, "The Myth of Black-on-Black Violence," Natalie Hopkinson opines that journalists should follow the direction of the United Kingdom, where the Guardian newspaper banned the use of the phrase. A Guardian stylebook asked authors to ''imagine the police saying they were investigating an incident of white-on-white violence ... " Hopkinson concludes, "The term 'black-on-black violence' is a slander against the majority of law-abiding black Americans, rich and poor, who get painted by this broad and crude brush."

Trayvon Martin's tragic death reveals the worst ills at play within America's criminal-justice system. Not only was he murdered in large part because of dangerous, persistent stereotypes, but the failure of police to judiciously respond to the crime underscores the inequities that characterize institutionalized racism.

Those who respond to the tragedy by retreating to narratives of black-on-black crime seek to promote it as a defense against an innocent child's violent homicide. This reveals how entrenched the lies have become and how eager too many people are to absolve both Zimmerman's guilt and their own tacit consent.

African-American media and policymakers have been equally complicit in promoting a "black-on-black crime" anecdote, thinking that it could help address some of the community's problems; but what it has actually done is provide support for racial profiling and promote the disproportionate policing of black criminality as "legitimate" and "acceptable." This over-policing has led to disproportionately higher rates of arrests in black communities, reinforcing the idea that blacks commit more crimes.

If we were to talk about "white-on-white crime," then at least we'd be addressing issues like gun violence in a racially neutral way. That doesn't happen because too many Americans remain convinced that black or brown people are the problem. Respected journalists like George Will further perpetuate lies as fact when they make blanket statements that support an ill-conceived narrative.

It seems that the media in general and white American society in particular prefer to focus on crime perpetrated by African Americans because it serves as a way to absolve them from the violence, prejudice and institutionalized discrimination engendered for generations against blacks. It offers a buffer against responsibility, a way to shift blame and deflect cause and effect. But the truth, and numbers, tell a different story.

The myth of black-on-black violence has become a stain on the sociopolitical consciousness and indelibly imbues mindsets as well as public policy. At the heart of an increasingly violent society is not a subculture among blacks but the violence and criminality of many Americans, and whites in particular. No one seems to speak about this. Why? Because the snake oil was duly purchased and consumed. It is time for race-based pseudo-facts to be challenged and dismantled.

Edward Wyckoff Williams is an author, columnist and political analyst for MSNBC and a former investment banker. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.
 

Comments

 
Anonymous

Posted Apr 13 2012

If what you said was thru the black neighborhoods will be twice as safe as the white neighborhoods and not a single black person believes that. You know what you are a hateful racist who can’t admit the truce

Anonymous

Posted Apr 14 2012

Anonymous what you know about the African American community is extended to what comes out of the other end or your remote control which is fueled by the white media. TV is the white mans perception of all other miniorities, it does not make it factual. thx for this article

Anonymous

Posted Apr 21 2012

Where are your sources? I call bs on your facts sir

Anonymous

Posted Apr 22 2012

12.4 of the population is black but commit 33 percent of the crime according to you.

Anonymous

Posted Apr 27 2012

White's may commit violent crime at a 2-1 clip in comparison to Black's,but Whites out number Blacks 8-1 in America.When that is taken into account it is quite clear that a higher percentage of Black people are criminal's.The fact that 14% of the country account's for almost 40% of all crime is why Black's are portrayed as criminal's not racism.All the cries from the Black community of racism over police procedure's like NYC's stop and frisk are complete denial of your communities issue's with violence,if your community could stop the violence,or even curb it,by itself there would be no need for such procedures,but the Black community won't address any issues within there community that they can't blame on someone else.How are program's like NYC's stop and frisk racist when they actually save Black live's!I could see the cries of Racism if the NYPD employed stop and frisk against Black's only when they are near a White community,but that is not the case.If the Black community could police itself the police wouldn't have such a hard time.
p.S, Black's killed over 400 White people in 2009 while White's killed over 200 Blacks so if we take the FBI crime stats into account White's are the one's that should be concerned over Racial violence not Black's.


Anonymous

Posted Jul 6 2012

Old article but...Anonymous Apr27 makes some good points but I think he missed at least one of the intended points of the article. Yes, as stated, Blacks killed over 400 Whites in 2005, however, Whites killed about 3000 Whites in the same year. So, statistically you should cross the street when you see another white guy and I should avoid black guys (2,600 that year)... sounds like we should have a beer together.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 6 2012

Old article but...Anonymous Apr27 makes some good points but I think he missed at least one of the intended points of the article. Yes, as stated, Blacks killed over 400 Whites in 2005, however, Whites killed about 3000 Whites in the same year. So, statistically you should cross the street when you see another white guy and I should avoid black guys (2,600 that year)... sounds like we should have a beer together.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 6 2012

Old article but...Anonymous Apr27 makes some good points but I think he missed at least one of the intended points of the article. Yes, as stated, Blacks killed over 400 Whites in 2005, however, Whites killed about 3000 Whites in the same year. So, statistically you should cross the street when you see another white guy and I should avoid black guys (2,600 that year)... sounds like we should have a beer together.

Anonymous

Posted Jul 7 2012

And? Whites have been killing and stealing the lands of other peoples for almost Five Centuries. Do we count that?

Anonymous

Posted Jul 29 2012

Ok, in all honesty... I can't stand black people. My cousin was killed by a black man who killed not only my cousin but his own daughter, his girlfriend, his girlfriend's grandmother, and left his son in a coma. Then he tried to flee the country, but was caught on a boat (yes, a boat)...

I've been around whites and blacks. Oh, btw, I'm hispanic. When I'm around whites, I feel like I'm invited... that's probably because I speak english really well, and I have sort of a white mentality. However when I'm in a crowd of black people, I just feel like I'm around a crowd of animals that are a lot more inferior than I am. The conversations are limited to "WHOOOOO" and "OHHHH YEAH OH YEAH!!", and it's almost as though they're speaking in a language that I can't comprehend. In fact, most of them can't even understand each other, until they really need to say something to someone else. It's as though they just talk shit most of the time. Incomprehensible sounds. I can't stand being around them because I feel as though my IQ goes down when I'm close by. And yeah, I believe that all black men should have a vasectomy... because we need to make sure the world goes in the right direction. We can't let the wants of a few overpower the needs of many. May they all disappear one day.

roseyop.myopenid.com

Posted Sep 12 2012

When we speak about "racial profiling" then we should mention that Whites are racially profiled and targeted for crime.

Just sayin...

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