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View Diary: Smearing Trayvon Martin: The True Lie that Black Men Commit More Crime than Whites (278 comments)

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  •  I'm talking about what I know (7+ / 0-)

    not what I see on television. I've been mugged and sexually assaulted. My mother and aunt were mugged. My best friend was mugged and beaten up a block from her house, and her granddaughter was mugged coming home from school.  My neighbor directly across the street was set upon and attacked for no reason by two guys and ended up in the hospital with a broken arm and brain damage from which he never completely recovered. There were two armed home invasions a block from my house, and an 11-year-old kid was shot a block away in the other direction. Our corner grocer was robbed and beaten almost to death and was off work for many months. There have been strings of armed robberies and muggings in the neighborhood. There was a rape. Descriptions of the perpetrators came from the victims.

    Are you trying to tell me there was greater amount of crime by white people in my neighborhood only I never heard about any of it? Don't be ridiculous. I would have heard about it. There was a murder across the street by a white perpetrator who was the victim's lover, and a rape by Latino. There were one murder and home burglaries and store break-ins where no one saw who did it. That is all.

    No, it's not in my mind.

    We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

    by denise b on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 01:14:43 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  alas I feel your pain (13+ / 0-)

      but you cannot generalize those experiences to all places and times. yes, there is a huge amount of white crime that is largely under reported.

      •  Someone on this site told me that 93% (3+ / 0-)

        of all AA people are law-abiding.  That seems plausible, but what percentage of total US crime is committed by the 7%?  Additionally, and to denise b's point, how much crime is committed in "drug-ridden high-crime neighborhoods" and can that figure be compared to total crime committed in the metropolitan area?

        Koch Industries, Inc: Quilted Northern, Angel Soft, Brawny, Sparkle, Soft 'n Gentle, Mardi Gras, Vanity Fair, Dixie

        by ChiTownDenny on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 02:39:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Two things (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        WereBear Walker, Hind2, Wham Bam

        First of all, if you're saying that large numbers of crime by white perpetrators but not by black ones go unreported - and not just to police, but to friends and neighbors as well -  that begs for some evidence as well as an explanation. Why would that be? because the victims don't mind being robbed at gunpoint by a white guy? Because they don't like to see a white guy go to jail? Why?

        Second. You're saying that despite poverty rates twice as high as whites, worse schools, worse literacy, high school dropout rates of 50%, unemployment rates among black youth higher than 40%, high rates of depression and PTSD from exposure to violence, more exposure to drugs and greater likelihood of living in communities where large numbers of adult role models are in prison - despite all these things, young black men do not commit street crime at higher rates than young white men?

        Well, congratulations. You've just thrown most established beliefs about the social roots of crime out the window. When you can prove this and explain it, I expect to see you on the front page of the NY Times. When I do, I'll take it very seriously. Because if people who grew up middle class, stayed in school, and are able to get jobs are committing street crime at the same rate as those who didn't, then I'm totally gobsmacked.

        We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

        by denise b on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 06:00:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Denise B (0+ / 0-)

        and people like her are lost causes. Those hearts and minds can't be won, so why waste time trying?

      •  Serious crimes, other than rape, are almost all (0+ / 0-)

        reported.

        there is a huge amount of white crime that is largely under reported.
        Murders, armed robberies, burglaries, etc. get reported.

        Where is your evidence that such crimes by whites are under reported?

      •  There's no need to generalize (0+ / 0-)

        If Den is truthful he should have moved house long ago.

        I think you are wilfully blind. Sorry but Den's experience is born out in city after city.

        A Catholic, Jew, Muslim and Buddhist walk into Al Aqsa Mosque. Buddhist immediately exclaims: "excuse me I appear to be in the wrong joke."

        by Salo on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 01:00:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I don't mean to be callous (6+ / 0-)

      but I don't really understand why you believe anecdote = data.

    •  You're talking about anecdotes (15+ / 0-)

      while the diarist is talking about statistics.

      So you lived "in a drug-ridden high-crime neighborhood" in "inner big cities". And according to your personal experience there, "the vast majority of the perpetrators were black men under 40". Ok, and what was the demographic of your "drug-ridden high-crime neighborhood" in the inner city? Was it a mostly white neighborhood?

      You also say, "I heard about every mugging, armed robbery, rape, home invasion, senseless beating and drive-by shooting in my neighborhood." Depending on how small you are defining your neighborhood, I'd bet that you didn't.

      Regardless, this is called anecdotal inference, not statistics.

      The diarist is addressing the claim that statistically blacks commit more crimes than whites as a group and on the whole, not in a particular neighborhood or some such. Your personal experiences can not show what is true or not true about this question. Nobody's can.

      The diarist's point is that national statistics on arrests or incarceration are trotted out as indicators of the supposedly far higher rate of crimes committed by blacks, and to justify the assumptions that led to Martin's death. But the well established biases inherent in these statistics and the processes which produce them show that they are not measuring the rate of crimes committed by these groups. Your personal anecdotes can't change that.

      •  I think you guys are giving this person a (13+ / 0-)

        very hard time for relating her direct observations! That is not fair, and it's not going to proved anything, just insulting her.

        To make generalizations from one's direct observations is a smart and reasonable thing to do. It is what a thinking person will do, should do. While your facts and figures may be true overall there is still room for, and reasonable expectation, the local differences which may be her experience.

        Even if data proves an overall case, you must know that the averages are not going to be met in all cases. Give her a break, and stop.

        "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

        by Gorette on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 03:55:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I was making an important point, not insulting (3+ / 0-)

          Look Gorette, her comment was framed as a rebuttal to the diary. If she were just relating her direct observations that's one thing, but that wasn't what was going on here. It was framed as a rebuttal. I was pointing out correctly that it is not.

          Moreover, you say "To make generalizations from one's direct observations is a smart and reasonable thing to do." No, it isn't, unless you have some good reason to believe that your observations are representative of what you haven't observed, in order to "generalize" your particular observations. Without such a reason, it's just a logical fallacy. And making a logical fallacy is neither smart nor reasonable.

          •  My comment was a rebuttal to the diary (2+ / 0-)

            only in the sense that I was rebutting that my own fears result from misinformation. They result from my life.

            We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

            by denise b on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 07:33:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  have you lived in a poor-drug ridden white area? (0+ / 0-)

              Once you say "in the inner city",  I'm betting that white poverty lives somewhere else .

              And when you live in a poor white neighbhorhood,  the drug dealers, the addicts, the people who leave their kids running wild, the wife-beaters, and the killers will be white.

              There was a time when those people were called Irish, later Italians.  Now my experience is they don't live in inner cities, at least not in the Northeast.

              It's not a fake orgasm; it's a real yawn.

              by sayitaintso on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 06:40:07 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  what is your point? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Wham Bam

                if you go back in time other races had higher rates of violent crime?  I don't think anyone would disagree with that.  But the FACT and STATISTICS and REALITY show that black males commit violent crimes at a higher rate in the US.  Now as to why most believe its chronic joblessness and barricades to upward mobility like previous incarcerations.  

                So I would agree that there are reasons why the rate is higher but to deny the rate of violent crime by black males is higher is RIDICULOUS and its a flat out lie.

      •  I'm wasn't talking about Martin (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        WereBear Walker, RickD, starfu

        I was talking about my own fear and the reasons for it.

        And in fact, the diarist was not talking about statistics - on the contrary, he was claiming that the statistics are somehow misleading or wrong. He was also confounding the issue of street crime against victims with other things, like possession of illegal drugs and white collar crime. These are not the types of crimes that make people afraid to leave their houses at night, which is what I am talking about. Yes, Bernie Madoff is many magnitudes more evil than any street thug, and I do fear having my retirement funds stolen by his ilk, but Bernie Madoff is not why I wait until morning to mail a letter rather than go across the street to the mailbox after dark.

        I believe the statistics back up higher rates of street crime by young black men than any other demographic - in fact, I thought it was so well known that I'm surprised to see people question it.

        The diarist has refuted this with an unsupported claim that this is due to large amounts of unreported crime by white perpetrators. If you find this more credible than my anecdotes, please explain why.

        As I pointed out in a previous comment, to believe that crime rates for young black men aren't higher is to believe that poverty, lack of education, trauma, discrimination and massive unemployment rates do not lead to higher crime rates. If this is the latest liberal thinking on the subject, then we are throwing out 60 years of sociology, are we not?

        We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

        by denise b on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 06:29:41 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  didn't (3+ / 0-)

          say that, please attribute my claims properly. and do reread what i wrote about the racialized nature of crime.

          statistics are the result of a process, moreover, that process has certain relationships to power, and authority. are you disputing that there is disparate enforcement of the law in communities of color vs. those that may be more affluent and white?

          my claims are a bit more nuanced than you are giving credit for. please beware the use of strawmen to make your case.

          •  I am well aware (3+ / 0-)

            of disparities in the justice system and I would certainly take them into account in looking at conviction rates and to a lesser degree at arrest rates.

            But I don't think they factor into the reports of the victims themselves. I can't see any credible reason why those would be skewed. I believe the reports of crime in my own neighborhood that I heard about - which is obviously where my own fears spring from - were a reflection of what went on there.

            We decided to move the center farther to the right by starting the whole debate from a far-right position to begin with. - Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

            by denise b on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 07:08:39 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  they factor into crime stats when everyone smokes (0+ / 0-)

              but not everyone gets stopped and frisked.  When the white folks come into the city to cop, then turn around and ride back home, and the police only bust the buyers and the sellers who are nearby.  Seen it happen many times.

              It happens when driving while black is a motive to stop a car, search, and provoke driver and passenger into something... anything.

              It happens when the police let the Asian and white kids sit on the lawn in front of the library and tell the black kids in the parking lot to move on or face arrest.  Seen it too, been to court on that one.

              It's not a fake orgasm; it's a real yawn.

              by sayitaintso on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 06:48:04 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  She was referencing violent crimes... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Wham Bam

                so drug busts are of no real issue here.  I agree that is a problem but its not the issue she was referencing.  She wasn't scared someone was oing to try and sell her weed.  She was scared someone was going to kill, rape or assault her.

        •  statistics (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Larsstephens, shanikka, sayitaintso

          The diarist was talking about statistics. The fact that he was questioning the accuracy of crime statistics as a representation of underlying facts they are presented as measuring does not mean he's talking about anecdotes instead of statistics.

          "I believe the statistics back up higher rates of street crime by young black men than any other demographic - in fact, I thought it was so well known that I'm surprised to see people question it. The diarist has refuted this with an unsupported claim that this is due to large amounts of unreported crime by white perpetrators."

          This gets down to the problem the diary is addressing: the assumption that US crime statistics by racial group reflect the prevalence of crime committed by these groups. You are surprised to see this challenged? One of the most well debunked areas where this has been shown false is with drug-related crime. Study after study has shown that black and white people tend to possess or do drugs the same amount or blacks even less than whites, yet are arrested and imprisoned for drug possession at far higher rates. What the police crime stats would supposedly "back up" is simply false, and perhaps even the opposite of what is actually true about this.

          And the diary is not saying this is just about crime by whites being "unreported". It's about the biases of surveillance practices, arresting or not arresting, charging or not charging, more or less severe charges, biased conviction rates, etc. etc. All of this stuff leads "the statistics" to suggest a greatly inflated picture of black crime. In the case of drugs it seems to flip a reality of whites being more likely to do the crime into one where blacks do it much more often.

          This doesn't necessarily mean there is no difference at all in crime rates among blacks and whites, and depending on which type of crime you're talking about, but it does mean that those crime statistics that are regularly trotted out to justify prejudiced views of blacks as especially dangerous do not accurately establish what these differences are. Yet they are constantly presented as doing so.

          •  statistics show black men... (0+ / 0-)

            commit violent crime at a higher rate than any other race.  Period.  Its not even close.  Even the most ardent progressive prison reform people know that to be true.  Now there are reasons for this that are built in to a still racially motivated social structure.  here is a good summary imo.

            "Prof. ALEXANDER: Yes, that's absolutely right. You know, most people assume that, you know, the prison explosion has been driven by violent crime rates. And it is true that African-American men do have higher rates of violent crime than white men.

            William Julius Wilson explored this in his book "When Work Disappears." He shows that, you know, people who are jobless have higher rates of violent crime, and in fact he cited research which shows that, you know, if you compare white, jobless men with black, jobless men, you know, the racial disparity in violent crime virtually disappears.

            So, you know, what we're dealing with when we're talking about violent crime is chronic joblessness in urban areas where work has disappeared due to the closing of factories, deindustrialization and globalization."

            •  again (0+ / 0-)

              see my comments above and elsewhere. "rates" do not scale down to individuals. thus, it is illogical to use claims about aggregates to gin up fear about individual people. you are fixated on the black bogeyman. thus my point of how this narrative does amazing work in this society. moreover, you are silent on "white" crimes--many of them violent. Again, my other point.

              If you want to be afraid of someone look in their mirror, they are likely going to be a member of your own group or someone you know.

              •  Wrong. (0+ / 0-)

                In my city, until recently, of Birmingham,al most violent crimes against whites and blacks were committed by young black men.  You are glossing over a HUGE issue.  Black men commit violent crimes at an astounding rate.

      •  a good way to look at this... (0+ / 0-)

        would be murder rate by zip code.  Few murders go unreported.  I know in Birmingham, Atlanta and New Orleans (all cities I have lived in and all rank towards the top in murder rates) the crime is sectioned off in the poorest neighborhoods with high black populations.  

        Young black men commit a disproportionate amount of violent crimes.  That is not anecdotal evidence.  The sad thing is the vast majority of the victims are black as well... but so long as we are denying the problem even exists we can't fix it.  It astounding to me how many people are suggesting poor schools, poor neighborhoods, durgs and violence, high school graduation rates, etc. have no influence on violent crime rates.  

        here is a direct quote from an NPR interview.  This sums it up pretty well--

        "Prof. ALEXANDER: Yes, that's absolutely right. You know, most people assume that, you know, the prison explosion has been driven by violent crime rates. And it is true that African-American men do have higher rates of violent crime than white men.

        William Julius Wilson explored this in his book "When Work Disappears." He shows that, you know, people who are jobless have higher rates of violent crime, and in fact he cited research which shows that, you know, if you compare white, jobless men with black, jobless men, you know, the racial disparity in violent crime virtually disappears.

        So, you know, what we're dealing with when we're talking about violent crime is chronic joblessness in urban areas where work has disappeared due to the closing of factories, deindustrialization and globalization."

    •  I hear what you are saying (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FreeWoman19, Larsstephens

      I find nothing wrong with basing your outlook on experience. The problem isn't people like you.

      Its the people who move out of a nice neighborhood because a black professional couple with nice kids move in down the block.

      There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

      by slothlax on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 02:04:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  why is that a problem... (0+ / 0-)

        sucks for them to live in such a world but I don't see why that is a problem.  Its worse when people either try and make the family unwelcomed or stalk their kids but if you don't like black people this is america.  Move.  Not sure how people who isolate themselves are a problem.

        •  Are you familiar with White Flight? (0+ / 0-)

          I would argue that's one of our country's most devastating social problems. It starts as one or two families and before long the nice subdivision is now a "black" neighborhood. It tells black families who do the right thing that it doesn't matter how decent and "normal" they are, they're still black first.

          There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

          by slothlax on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 11:28:10 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I agree it is not advisable but... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            slothlax

            Even in Birmingham,Al black families live in the uppity burbs.  Maybe one or two families move but the vast majority stay put.  However, an all black neighborhood should be no different than an all white neighborhood if they are economically similar.  I believe studies bear this out.

            In short there are few neighborhoods in the south that are entirely white.  But if an individual does not want to live near black people that is 100% okay.

            •  Its different in the north (0+ / 0-)

              In some ways it seems our segregation is more pervasive, because whites are much more of a majority outside of cities, not as strong of a black middle class. Those are just impressions of someone with limited experience of the south.

              I guess the problem for me kind of gets to that last sentence. I do think its a concern if anyone feels the need to isolate themselves for racial reasons. More to the black/white thing, though, two things stick out to me in my own life. People who say they move to the suburbs for the "schools" and people who live in white working class neighborhoods who say I live in the "ghetto" because I live in a mixed race working class neighborhood. Its just not a healthy way to see society, imo

              There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

              by slothlax on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 01:28:10 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I wholeheartedly agree... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                slothlax

                And have always lived in mixed income and racialy diverse neighborhoods.  However, I am now in a pickle because there are two good school districts in my town now.  Both are in white upperclass neighborhoods.  The private schools are 18-20k/year or you have to send to a religious school which I refuse to do.  I can't afford 20k/year for two kids.  I would love to NOT move but I have few options...

                •  Don't move then (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Hind2

                  Have you looked into the school in your neighborhood? It is my assertion that the school itself is pretty interchangeable, its the family that matters. In NY, private school teachers have fewer qualifications and lower pay, but the parents are paying all that money, so they make damn sure their kids get good grades. I say that a student with solid parental support can succeed at just about ay school.

                  There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

                  by slothlax on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 03:19:39 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The schools are terrible... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    slothlax

                    Academically I agree with you but the behavior issues at those schools are deal breakers.  Lots of lower income kids here are unfortunately raised on tv and fast food with one parent who is often times overwhelmed and underprepared.  I have a neighbor that sent his youngest to kindergarten for a grand total of three months. Class had several kids that were held back due to developmental issues, back to school night was a nightmare with only a few other parents there.  One parent threatened a teacher in front of other parents and kids and that was the straw.  I am idealistic but I am not going to put my 5 year old in that environment.  There is a great magnet school but it's a lotto system so if you miss that you are SOL.

                    •  I hear you (0+ / 0-)

                      There are certainly schools in my city that I wouldn't send my (hypothetical) kids to, pretty much for the reasons you point out.

                      All I know is that I went to city schools and lived in cities my while life, minorities and all. Never been in a fight, got jumped once on the way to school over the course of twelve years, and went to Tufts. People in my county who tell me they won't live in the city because of the schools I pretty much dismiss out of hand as succumbing to fear rather than rational decision making.

                      There is truth on all sides. The question is how much.

                      by slothlax on Fri Mar 30, 2012 at 03:57:17 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

    •  Hi, denise -- (13+ / 0-)

      First, I'm sorry for the experiences you and others around you have gone through.  Those are memories you shouldn't have to be carrying.

      This diary is giving some really important data on crime and violence, particularly debunking some common beliefs about black crime.  That's very important, in my eyes. However, crime is a very complicated topic.   I know from other research, too, that most violent crime is intraracial, as chaunceydevega says.  However, situations differ, and class complicates things enormously.  

      In the seventies, I and many of my friends were living in group houses in predominantly black, relatively poor neighborhoods in Washington DC.  During that period, everyone I knew personally (white or black) who was mugged, robbed, or sexually assaulted on the street was victimized by a black person.  But that speaks to class, not race.  We mostly didn't have much money, let me make clear, but we weren't desperate or having as hard a time as many black people in the neighborhood.  Affluent people still commit violent crimes, but it's mostly not street crime.

      THe scariest neighborhood I've ever been in was a Polish-Lithuanian slum in Chicago.  If I'd lived in a group house there, the threat of crime would have come from whites, and I would have found myself afraid of young men muttering Eastern European languages.  That cannot, however, be translated into a willingness to have young Lithuanian men shot without cause.

      And I know you're not saying that it should.

      This isn't an answer, really.  I want to acknowledge your experience, but I also want to say that it's NOT the experience of most white people.  Most white people are NOT threatened by the black people they see around them on a daily basis.  THeir fear is mostly based on false assumptions, and it's those false assumptions that chauncey is providing information to counter.

      --------------- --------------- --------------- "Every part of you belongs to you." -- from a story of Virginia under the Personhood law. Read it here.

      by Fiona West on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 02:32:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Several things you wrote resonate... (4+ / 0-)

        I live in Chicago.  Yup, some neighborhoods (and some bars) in the Polish/Ukrainian part of town could be downright dangerous for me (I'm white) and worse for you.  Street crime is based on class, poverty, drug and alcohol use. Race can play a part in either/any direction.

        Part of living in the city is knowing where you are and who is around you. Most of the time, walking home from the train at night, I walk past black kids without thinking about it and it's no issue, because nothing about affect or behavior is triggering me.  Sometimes I get a weird feeling and trust my intuition, even if I'm not entirely sure what set it off.  Is race irrelevant in that?  If I answer honestly, probably it plays some part. I'm sure I've crossed the street at least once for no reason.  That said, the one time I was assaulted, it happened out of the blue and i had no clue before it happened.  But I also feel the same discomfort around a skinhead or biker, or a white meth freak who sets off an alarm bell. Fear is adaptive as long as it doesn't rule one's life and it's not irrational, and its focused on individuals rather than on everyone within a category.

        Of course, fear is also conditioned by experience.  My one incident a decade ago hasn't left me with residual trauma around black youth, but I can imagine the woman who experienced those repeated attacks must have more sensitive triggers than I, and those triggers most likely involve black men, there's not much to be done about that but accept it... and as you have done, ask that one not extrapolate too much.  

        “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

        by ivorybill on Thu Mar 29, 2012 at 06:04:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  you are 100% correct. (0+ / 0-)

          is that its based on factors other than race... but those factors are found disproportionately in black neighborhoods and thus violent crime is disproportionate to that area.  The diary does not refute the truth.  The truth is black males commit violent crimes at higher rates than any other demographic in the US.  If you look at white neighborhoods with similar levels of education, drugs, etc, then yes the crime rates do normalize.  But that does not change the fact that in reality more blacks live in poverty and so by extension they also carry higher violent crime rates.

          WHy people are arguing such basic shit is beyond me.  

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