“23 Ways You Could Be Killed If You Are Black In America” (2016) is a video about extrajudicial killings in the US. It features Alicia Keys, Beyonce, Bono and others. The video is embed…
*First things first, let’s all take a deep breath*
Does the above headline look familiar to you? If you’re like me, you’ve heard the same line regurgitated again and again.
Earlier this week, Rudy Giuliani former mayor of New York caused quite a stir when he said “you’ve got to teach your children to be respectful to the police and the real danger to them is not the police, but other black children who are going to kill them.”
Side note: Statistics report that most white people are killed by other white people.
Yesterday, Harry Houck, a former NYPD detective, made the claim that “blacks were more prone to criminality.” Houck then proceeded to read some crime statistics about New York.
He read the following: “In New York City alone, blacks are 23 percent [of the population]…They make up 75 percent of all shootings, 70 percent of all robberies, 60 percent of all violent crimes. White only 3 percent. That is why there are more blacks in jail than there are whites.”
You will hear a common refrain that Black people are more violent, more likely to commit crimes etc. Believe it or not, this is a notion that has been promoted for decades and decades. Going all the way back to the Reconstruction era, when Black people were being lynched there was a belief that Black people were more prone to criminal behavior.
In the present day, many people will bring up statistics and use the numbers to validate already old-time racist beliefs.
Here is the problem. Statistics without context do not paint a full picture.
Look at the fact that the prison rate has increased by 500% between 1970 and 2005. Far fewer Black people were in prisons in the 1970s than today, even when you factor in the overall population growth.
If Black people were inherently more prone to criminality, then why the drastic and sudden increase in incarceration of African-Americans since 1970?
When Jim Crow laws were removed, new policies such as the war on drugs and the crack-cocaine disparity were put into place and this led to mass incarceration and an explosion in the prison population.
So is it that Blacks are more prone to criminality or is it that policy is changing what constitutes criminality and who is considered criminal?
But what about the statistics?
Statistics can be useful, but when you don’t have context, they can paint a misleading picture.
In this situation, the stats that are being shared, don’t factor in the bias in the criminal justice system, they don’t factor in poverty, they don’t factor in the connection between violent crime and drugs and they don’t factor in structurally biased policies.
For example, studies have shown that Black people and white people use drugs at roughly the same rate, yet black people are more likely to be arrested and convicted for drug-related offenses. Studies have also shown that judges can be biased in convicting and sentencing against Black people and other POC compared to white people.
The statistics also don’t factor in the relationship between poverty and crime. Historically, poor Black neighborhoods have been redlined, black schools continue to be underfunded and many black neighborhoods are environmentally unsuitable for health and wellbeing because of chemicals, like lead. Studies have shown there is a higher unemployment rate amongst poor Black people, studies have also show black people are more likely to be discharged from jobs and have a harder time being hired. The wealth disparity and lack of employment opportunity means Black people are at a higher risk of poverty.
We know that poverty and crime are connected because fewer opportunities for employment and income can lead some people to participate in illegal activities to live.
In addition, plea bargains aren’t discussed when referencing these crime statistics.
“Almost no one ever goes to trial. Nearly all criminal cases are resolved through plea bargaining- a guilty plea by the defendant in exchange for some form of leniency by the prosecutor…The pressure to plead guilty to crimes has increased exponentially since the advent of the war on drugs.” (The New Jim Crow, 85-86)
Mandatory minimum sentences have pushed many people, disproportionally those who are poor and of color, to accept plea bargains because of draconian mandatory minimum sentences.
To give an example, there is a movie called American Violet, it is the true story of Regina Kelly, a black woman who was arrested for possessing/ distributing narcotics, except she never “had anything to do with drugs.” She stood by her innocence, yet she was continuously pressured by the DA and prosecutor to plea bargain to receive a lighter sentence.
She refused, but many other people, who were wrongly arrested for narcotics-related crimes, did plea bargain even though they had committed no crime. The fear that if they went to trial, they would lose and receive even longer sentences drove them to accept a guilty plea. Thus, countless innocent people plea bargained and were sentenced for a crime they never even committed. ALL OF THOSE CONVICTED IN THE Regina Kelly case were black.
I encourage you to check out the movie American Violet.
In another instance, Brian Banks, an African-American man, was forced to plea bargain on a rape charge and spent 5 years in prison, when it was later determined that the accuser had falsified her story and no rape had occurred.
So, how can we possibly know how many innocent people are in prison and now have criminal records based off of these plea bargains and a biased criminal justice system?
Thus, the statistics that people are regurgitating again and again do not necessarily indicate that Black people are more predisposed to criminality because you’re not seeing the whole context.
Finally, the vast majority of Black people do not commit violent crimes.
Thus, to say that Black people are predisposed to violent crime is to take a very small percentage of the group and then improperly extrapolate about the entire population. In other words, it’s a gross stereotype.
That would be like saying, most mass shooters in the country are white and male, so white males are predisposed to being mass shooters. Therefore I am justified in profiling, arresting and shooting white males.
It is true most mass shooters are white males, but only a small percentage of the white male population will become mass shooters, so to stereotype the entire population would be ridiculous. The same logic applies to Black people.
Most people within the justice system are not violent criminals either, about half are convicted of non-violent offenses.
So in conclusion, there are many Black people who receive unfair, biased sentences. Many are forced to plea bargain or are subject to a structurally racist system that is biased against them.
I feel that many people are using statistics without taking into account context in order to validate age old racist stereotypes.
Until, the criminal justice bias and mass incarceration are addressed, we will not progress as a society.
I personally believe that police are not entirely to blame for all of this. The system of structural racism is. Those who have the power and money to implement structurally racist policies need to held accountable and voted out, the police are just pawns in the overarching system of structural racism.
Years ago, lynching was justified because some people claimed that Black men raped white women. Stories of Emmett Till are burned into the American memory. Today, we know that the majority of those rape accusations were false and we decry this past injustice, yet mass incarceration continues.
Years from now, young people are going to look back on this era and decry the injustice of mass incarceration, just as we did lynching.
Nearly 400 years ago, the first Black people were stolen from their native lands across the African continent and brought to America to toil as slaves. They were separated from their families, whipped, raped and dehumanized. They were treated no better than mules. In 1865, the American Civil War erupted and Black people were no longer legally allowed to be enslaved. Yet, the dehumanization continued in the form of lynchings, rapes, economic exploitation and denial of other basic liberties that many privileged, white men took for granted. Thus, the Black nadir began and continued up until The Civil Rights movement. The actions of activists like Martin Luther King, Diane Nash, Malcolm X, Fannie Lou Hamer and others brought an end to the state-sancitioned Jim Crow laws, which were designed to dehumanize and disenfranchise Black people. No longer could Black people be forced to the back of the bus, no longer could Black people be lynched with impunity, no longer could Black women be raped at will. Today, we have overcome many obstacles, but unfortunately the story of Black people didn’t end after the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s.
Today, America is still largely segregated, Black schools are underfunded and many poor, Black neighborhoods are in disarray. Today, the Criminal Justice system has been likened to the New Jim Crow. The prison population holds more Black people today than there were slaves in the antebellum era. Black people are more likely to die at the hands of police. This combination of unequal education, the war on drugs and a biased criminal justice system has literally destroyed Black communities. Thus, #Blacklivesmatter was born.
Too many Black people’s lives have been deemed expendable and too many people have turned a blind eye while countless injustices occur under their very noses.
On July 7,2016, a peaceful Black lives matter protest erupted into chaos when one suspected sniper shot 11 police officers and killed 5. This event occurred after Philando Castile, a Black man from Minnesota, was shot by police in front of his girlfriend and a 4 year old child. He was pulled over allegedly for a broken tail light. Earlier in the week, a Black man from Louisiana, named Alton Sterling, was shot outside a convenience store after he had been selling Cd’s. Both men were armed, however according to accounts from witnesses, it seems that the police acted violently without provocation. Alton Sterling did not threaten the police with the gun and was thrown to the ground and subdued before the police shot him. Philando Castile was licensed to carry a gun and his girlfriend had said that he was complying by retrieving his ID before he was shot by police.
However, the circumstances of the cases won’t matter because many people already believe that Black people are inherently violent and unworthy of equal protection or a right to trial. Throughout history, Black people have been stereotyped as violent, lazy and inferior to white people. Although times and laws have changed on the surface, these stereotypes still persist. Just ask Dylan Roof.
Many people will look at the stories of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling and they will presume that these two men must have had it coming because of the stereotype that Black people are inherently violent. Some will look at the story of the Dallas Police Shooting and use that as propaganda to not only discredit the necessity of the Black lives matter movement, but they will use it as further evidence that Black people are inherently violent, even though the overwhelming Black people are NOT violent criminals, but law-abiding citizens, who are trying to survive in a society that is structurally racist.
I am truly saddened by the killing of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. There is no question, that the criminal justice system is racist. There is no question that there needs to be nation-wide police reform. There is no question that Black people are justified in our anger. However, I am also saddened that the Dallas Police Officers, who had nothing to do with either of the shootings, were killed. As racist as the policing system in this country is, there are still some police officers who truly do respect and serve all people, regardless of color and violence, unless it is in self-defense, only begets more violence. I fear now that Black lives matter protests (who consist of many women, children and students) will be targeted because of this isolated incident in Dallas. There will be people who will overlook the fact that the vast MAJORITY of Black lives matter protests have been peaceful, there will be people who will overlook the fact that many many Black people are law-abiding citizens who simply want the same equality and rights that any American would want. How many more Dylan Roofs might be out there waiting…?
Most of us know that we can’t fight a structurally racist system with violence, we need political reform from the highest level. We need police to be trained in racial awareness/racial justice, we need them screened for bias. We need to implement restorative practice, we need to put politicians in office who are concerned about the wellbeing and justice of ALL Americans, not just white people. We need educational reform, not violence.
Now, I’ve had some people express the fact that in hundreds of years that Black people have been here, we have faced one obstacle after another. We achieved emancipation, but then we get lynching and Jim Crow, we dismantle Jim Crow, only to get mass incarceration. For every step forward, we take a step back ,so is there any point? Some people believe that the best thing for Black people is to have a separate, self-sustaining community where we control our own police. While others contend that political and criminal justice reform and embracing of diversity is the solution.
What do you all think?
Last night at the BET Awards, Jessie Williams, he of “Grey’s Anatomy” and the Ferguson protests, won the Humanitarian Award.
And then he said (519 words):
“This is for the real organizers all over the country, the activist, the civil rights attorneys, the struggling parents, the families, the teachers, the students that are realizing that a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us cannot stand if we do. It’s kinda basic mathematics: the more we learn about who we are and how we got here the more we will mobilize.
“This award is also for the black women in particular who have spent their lives nurturing everyone before themselves – we can and will do better for you.
“Now, what we’ve been doing is looking at the data and we know that police somehow manage to de-escalate, disarm and not kill white people every day. So what’s…
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USA, New Jersey, Jersey City, Female army soldier saluting, American flag in background
Recently, the Senate passed a defense authorization bill that requires women to sign up for Selective Service once they turn eighteen on January 2018 or later. The bill hasn’t been implemented into law but it could be the law of the land soon. Although some people applaud the bill, other believe that requiring young women to sign up for the Selective Service is a disastrous decision. However, I believe that the bill doesn’t really implement equality between the sexes and doesn’t ensure that women are protected from abuse while serving their country in the military. Hence my opposition to the bill and hoping that it isn’t signed into law.
Women(White) are still paid 78 cents to the dollar White men make. Black women are paid 64 cents to the dollar White men make and Hispanic women 53…
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By now, I’m sure you are all aware of the Orlando mass shooting that occurred early Sunday June 12, 2016. If you haven’t, in short, another person, armed with an AR-15 rifle entered a club in Orlando and murdered 50 people and injured countless others.
Very tragic and heartbreaking, but sadly not unique.
If you listen to the politicians, the same recycled dribble can be heard. Some politicians will blame this on “radical islamism,” *cough cough trump*, some will go back to the gun control argument and get into a monotonous debate with other politicians when we all already know that they’re not going to change anything, some politicians will give their thoughts and prayers, then turn around and take contributions and money from the NRA and gun lobbyists.
It’s very distressing. Congress has NOT been doing their job. If we could, I would call for Congress members who refuse to do anything to address this issue of gun violence to be brought to trial for endangering the people, convicted and replaced with people who have common sense.
As citizens, I wish we could fire the Congress and bring in an entirely new lot. Remember this incident when you are voting by the way.
Even if you’re not politically savvy, common sense would be tremendously helpful in this situation.
To address the recycled dribble of politicians:
- Donald Trump blames this on “radical islamism:” Most mass shootings in the U.S are committed by American white males. When are we going to discuss “radical white maleism?” Are we going to profile young white males? We gonna close down all the country clubs in the United States because those radical white males might be plotting to shoot up the next night club?
- Debate about gun control in congress: We’ve been hearing this same discussion for years. It’s very clear that Congress isn’t mature enough to come to a compromise on this issue. Don’t talk to me about the same bullshit over and over again when we all know you can’t agree. You need to bring in a conflict mediator or psychologist to sit in on these congressional meetings about gun control so that they can babysit them and help these republicans and democrats talk through their issues and come up with a compromise because they’re incapable of doing so on their own, apparently. These congress members lack common decency and common sense.
- Our Thoughts and Prayers Politicians: I love prayer, I love thought, but don’t lie and tell us your thoughts and prayers are with people and then turn around and kiss the NRA’s azz. Don’t put the lives of citizens in jeopardy just because the NRA is paying your way, while you sit in your plush offices with your Secret Servicemen. How about you use some of that “thought” to think about some real solutions to the gun control debate, how about you pray for some common sense and pray that you can stop sitting on your azz and diddling with the NRA, while your citizens are being senselessly murdered?..(List of politicians in bed with the NRA here) I’ll bet that God is sitting in heaven, looking down and thinking “these hypocritical people are pretending to pray and I’ve already given them an answer to their prayers…it’s called common sense smh.”
- Get entirely new congress. Remove these fools who haven’t been doing their job.
- Get rid of the democratic and republican parties. The divisiveness is costing every day Americans their lives. Let’s just be American and work toward common sense policies. Practical Solutions:
- Stop racist policies abroad and at home. If you provide equal opportunity and you stop structurally racist policies, that would eliminate a lot of gun violence by default because when you treat people well, they’re more likely to be loyal to you and in turn not shoot you in the azz.
- Do something about the amount of bullets out there. The gun argument is like beating a dead horse, so how about changing it up. If you don’t want to regulate guns, how about regulating bullets? If you have an empty gun, there’s only so much you can do…I mean you could clunk someone on the head with it, but what else can you do?…I mean you can have your gun, you can keep it in a case on your mantle, admire it, you just won’t have bullets. How bout that?
- Keep bullets out of the hands of extremists…of every background. If someone has a documented history of violence or extremism, there’s no reason for them to have access to high-powered bullets. Should be common sense, but apparently not.
- Disband the NRA- they’re glorified, sexually-insecure white supremacists.
I can’t even express how disappointed I am in this election. I think we have one candidate who is ignorant, openly-racist, unqualified and dishonest. I think we have another candidate who is politically-savvy, politically correct, pretends to love minorities, but still supports structurally racist policies. I think this is a terrible choice of candidates. All I know is that I will NOT be voting for the openly-racist, unqualified candidate, that much is sure. For the latter candidate…what choice do I have? I think I’m stuck with voting for the latter candidate (Ms. Politically Savvy) because what other choice do I have?…and that’s all I can say about that. The candidate I wanted, in all likelihood, is dropping out of the race.
I’m African-American and I have all the reason in the world to hate America. I think most of us have reason to hate America because of the racism and the history, but despite all of that. I don’t hate America. I care about America, I want the U.S to aspire to become the great nation that I know it can be. I want us to get to a point where we can truly be proud to be American. Where we truly love liberty, we truly provide equal opportunity, where we can be safe from gun violence. Where we set an example for the rest of the world. We are not at that point yet and I feel as if it’s largely because of this corrupt political system. Democrats and Republicans have been controlling the government too long, there’s too much divisiveness. There’s too much money involved in politics and it’s destroying the country, literally.
Does the government even care about it’s citizens? They are supposed to be working FOR the people, but they’re ruling over us.
Leave your thoughts:
What do you think it’s going to take for Congress to get their act together?
Do you think America is going down the drain?
A Black woman and a Black man were sitting in a Starbucks in Seattle, minding their business when an irate white man called the Black woman a “n-gger bitch,” and then spat coffee on her. The onlookers sat there doing nothing.
Remember a while back when the story of the Black woman touching the white guy’s dreads went viral? Well, here is a story of a Black woman being literally spat on and called the n-word, think this will go viral?…
This story is reminiscent of this incident that I posted about a while ago.
This type of thing happens to Black folk every day. What is interesting to me is that the white male targeted the Black female, not the Black male. My mother said one time that “years ago the black man was the most hated person in America, now I think the Black woman is the most hated person in America.”
Maybe she has a point. I’m thinking that he targeted the Black woman because he was a.) afraid to target the black man b.) he knew that a woman would be less likely to fight him back c.) stereotypes portray black women as masculine, so he felt justified in assaulting her.
What do you think?