Recently the following graphic came across my newsfeed:
Without fact-checking this, although I easily could, I’m going to just work with what’s here, break down the assertions as they stand, and make a few statements about those assertions. I’m specifically going to focus on the blatant racism in this post.
73% of Americans are White.
18% of Americans are Black.
Assuming that 509 American citizens were killed by police this year, one would expect that 371 White and 91 Black American citizens were killed, based strictly on proportion.
According to this graphic, 238 White and 123 Black American citizens were killed by police this year.
That averages to an actual 64% of the expected casualty rate for White Americans and an actual 135% of the expected casualty rate for Black Americans.
This graphic also asserts that we do not have a race problem, and then uses the word “thugs”. Correct me if I’m wrong (check my privilege, if you will), but my understanding of the use of the word “thug” is, in general, to apply to Black males. Which in and of itself shows the lie in the claim that we do not have a race problem.
Oh, yeah, and it only lists Black and White American citizens, although we all know there is great diversity in race and ethnic status, including mixed race, among Americans. We don’t have a race problem? Then why aren’t all races included?
But, back to the stats, when Black American citizens are killed by police officers at 135% the expected rate, yet White American citizens are killed by police officers at only 64% of the expected rate, it is pretty clearly a race issue.
I will not waste time discussing my respect for and awe of what police officers do every day. I am only using the information in THIS graphic to make a point. This graphic does not go into details about justified or self-defense shootings. This graphic does not elaborate on the intersectionality of mental health and criminal recidivism and drug use and race. It does not address deaths that occurred during commission of a crime, evasion of law enforcement officials, or compliance with a reasonable request. It does not include information about profiling when making stop and search decisions. Therefore, I will not address any of those topics.
There are two common refrains when discussing Black death at the hands of police officers: “Black people commit more crimes” (related to “Why would they run if they aren’t guilty”), and “More White people are killed by the cops but no one causes an uproar about that.”
Do Black people commit more crimes? As compared to White people? I’d love to see some statistics on that (remember, I’m just using this graphic, not doing any fact-checking or research of my own, although I easily could). And, while we’re at it, make sure it is a proportional representation, not just the numbers. Although there is absolutely an issue with racism and the criminal justice system, it is not true that more Black men are in prison than college (thank you, Dr. Ivory Toldson). One can not make these blanket assertions about Black people, men in particular, being career criminals and thugs. And why would they run if they aren’t guilty? Maybe because they know they are more likely to be disproportionately mishandled from the first moment to the last than their White counterparts. Maybe because they are legitimately scared of what will happen if they are taken into custody. Maybe because they DID commit a crime, and are running away just like a White person would.
To my mind, the better question would be why shoot to kill when taking out a kneecap is just as effective in stopping the suspect?
As for the second statement, I believe we’ve already shown that, proportionately speaking, fewer White people are killed by police officers than Black people, using the statistics in the above-referenced graphic. However, the second part of that statement is also inaccurate. If 123 Black American citizens were actually killed by police officers this year, what are their names? In what cities were 123 protests or rallies (or riots) held? They weren’t. Because the bottom line is Black American citizens were killed for “justifiable” reasons, but also for completely ridiculous, absolutely non-justifiable reasons. The ridiculous, non-justifiable reasons are what we hear about because… Well, that’s self-explanatory, isn’t it.
And, if I might make a suggestion, instead of sharing posts about why Black deaths are “more important” than White deaths, maybe share posts highlighting unjust White deaths. Be the change, people.
One thing I will readily agree with from this graphic is that we here in America have a massive media problem. I’d suggest, however, that the media problem is more of a “we know the media is biased but we’re going to believe whatever we want, share it across every available social platform, and ignore those who espouse positions with which we do not agree, because the echo chamber is more comfortable than being awoke”.
I guess what I’m really saying is the major problem Americans have is a willful and intentional disregard for fact.