by Michael Harriot
You’ve heard it before. It is the most frequent response to any accusation of police brutality. It is the repeated sleight-of-hand used to distract and drown out the voices of Black Lives Matter. It is an oft-used “alt-right” refrain and a sincere query from curious white questioners. It is the weapon of choice for the black practitioners of respectability politics and the favorite follow-up for people who frame their arguments with the preamble, “Not all white people …”
Why don’t black people ever talk about black-on-black crime?
Instead of rejecting the entire notion as a method of deflection and privilege, we will attempt to formally dismiss the conversation forever by laying out the facts about why white America never hears us talk about black-on-black crime.
It’s not a thing.
According to the FBI’s uniform crime-reporting data for 2016, 90.1 percent of black victims of homicide were killed by other blacks, while 83.5 percent of whites were killed by other whites. While no life is inconsequential, the statistical evidence shows that—just as for blacks when it comes to black-on-black crime, whites are mostly victimized by other whites, with the vast majority of white murders committed by whites. This is because most victims of crime personally know their assailants. And while this is a truth across racial boundaries, no one ever talks about “white-on-white” crime.
Furthermore, the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ arrest data analysis tool shows that less than 1 percent of blacks overall (about 2 percent of black men) commit a violent crime in any given year. This means, factoring in interracial violent offenses, 99 percent of black men do not commit black-on-black crime.
It is a fact that most murders are committed by whites, according to the most recent FBI stats available. It is a fact (at least for 2016 and 2015), that a black man was less likely to commit a violent crime of any kind than a police officer was to kill an unarmed person.
It has nothing to do with what we are talking about.
Imagine the head of Homeland Security walking up to the microphone to hold a press conference after a horrific terrorist attack, but when reporters start asking him about stopping terrorism and catching the culprits, he begins talking about texting and driving.
Sounds stupid, right?
But distracted driving kills more Americans each year than terrorism (and black-on-black crime), according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, so, according to the advocates of black-on-black crime conversations, we should be discussing this first.
It is true that the vast majority of black murders are committed by black men, and we should do something to combat that statistic (we will get to that later, I promise), but that fact has nothing to do with state violence. When anyone interrupts a discussion about Black Lives Matter by bringing up black-on-black crime, it sounds as stupid as if a doctor addressed a cancerous brain tumor by asking about domestic violence or if America’s highest-ranking government official addressed white supremacist Nazi-palooza by talking about the so-called alt-left and the “very fine” tiki-torch carriers.
No one would ever be that stupid.
SOURCE: The Root
Michael Harriot is a staff writer at The Root, host of “The Black One” podcast and editor-in-chief of the daily digital magazine NegusWhoRead.