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Stop using the "black on black crime" meme

Commentary by Black Kos Editor Denise Oliver-Velez

I'm sick and tired of reading comments loaded with right-wing memes and myths.

Every time we try to deal with discussing racist murderers, whether its Micheal Dunn or George Zimmerman, and his defenders, someone steps into the conversation and brings up the tired trope of "black-on-black crime" as a tried and true method of derailing the conversation away from racism, Stand Your Ground laws as they affect black people, and racially biased jurors and prosecutors who don't deliver justice—for us.  

I see these unrelated stats thrown around willy-nilly, and not just on Fox.  

 photo Fox_zpse5ba8867.jpg

This stuff is to be expected from Faux News, or folks over at Breitbart's site.

Liberal/left/progressives need to stop.

Dopper made a comment:

That is why I try to get progressive to drop the (53+ / 0-)

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term "black on black crime". The only major racial/ethnic group where the majority of crime committed against them are from people of a different ethnic/racial group are Native Americans. That's it!
The term feeds a rightwing meme.

He made it in a diary about 'fear of blacks' on Sunday, but that hasn't stopped people from continuing to do apples and oranges.

Let's get this straight.

A racist who kills or maims a black person, latino (or any other person of color) is committing a hate crime. Most white people killing white people as simply violent crime, black people killing black people in the course of violent crime—aren't doing murders because of how they feel about someone's skin color.

Dopper's comment was referencing the one major crime stat where inter-racial imbalance really does occur—the rape of Native American women, where 86% of the rapes are committed by non-Indian rapists (70% are white) which has been the subject of other pieces here, and elsewhere—see Aji's post—"Sovereignty for Native Women: The Tribal Law and Order Act"—and one I did on VAWA.

Back to the subject at hand. If you have never read them, strongly suggest you read two pieces by Jamelle Bouie:

The Trayvon Martin Killing and the Myth of Black-on-Black Crime


Why "Black-on-Black Crime" is a Dangerous Idea

In the first he makes it clear "Crime is driven by proximity and opportunity—which is why 86 percent of white victims were killed by white offenders."

He goes on to point out why right-wingers have shifted the subject:

Last week, in Chicago, 16-year-old Darryl Green was found dead in the yard of an abandoned home. He was killed, relatives reported, because he refused to join a gang. Unlike most tragedies, however—which remain local news—this one caught the attention of conservative activist Ben Shapiro, an editor for Breitbart News. Using the hashtag “#justicefordarryl,” Shaprio tweeted and publicized the details of Green’s murder. But this wasn’t a call for help and assistance for Green’s family, rather, it was his response to wide outrage over Saturday’s decision in the case of George Zimmerman, where a Florida jury judged him “not guilty” of second-degree murder or manslaughter in the killing of Trayvon Martin.

Shapiro, echoing many other conservatives, is angry over the perceived politicization of the Zimmerman trial, and believes that activists have ”injected” race into the discussion, as if there’s nothing racial already within the criminal-justice system. Indeed, he echoes many conservatives when he complains that media attention had everything to do with Zimmerman’s race. If he were black, the argument goes, no one would care. And so, Shapiro found the sad story of Darryl Green, and promoted it as an example of the “black-on-black” crime that, he believes, goes ignored. Or, as he tweets, “49% of murder victims are black men. 93% of those are killed by other blacks. Media don’t care. Obama doesn’t care

In the second article Bouie wrote:
No one has said that crime between African Americans isn’t a problem. The point is that blackness has nothing to do with it. “Black-on-black crime” is a frame that presupposes black criminality—that there’s something inherent to blackness which makes intra-group crime more prevalent and more deadly. But that’s nonsense, and all it does is obscure the history that brought us to this point. After a century of anti-black violence and public policy—of manufactured ghettos, forced hyper-segregation, and state-supported peonage—is economic perilousness and heightened violence among the victims and descendants of those people really a shock? And if it isn’t, then why would talk about crime in these communities as a factor of blackness, and not of history and circumstance?

The only thing we accomplish by focusing on “black-on-black crime” as an independent phenomena—distinct from “white-on-white crime”—is justify universal suspicion of black men, and young black men, in particular. This is a problem. It’s absolutely true that “NYPD stats show that 96 percent of all shooting victims are black or Hispanic, and 97 percent of all shooters were black or Hispanic,” but it’s also true that the number of black and Latino offenders is a small fraction of all blacks and Latinos. But stop and frisk turns all blacks and all Latinos into potential offenders—it erases individual consideration and imposes collective suspicion.

To continue this refresher course go back and re-read (if you haven't read it already) shanikka's Hey America! Can you please stop killing our (usually) innocent Black male children now? in which she wrote:
Most Americans, especially the white ones, have been trained like Pavlov's dogs at this point: all you have to do is push the right buttons, visually and rhetorically, and suddenly a lost young promising life is reduced to actual or potential yard waste: thug, hoodlum, gangbanger. Trash, to be thrown out. It may have been by the likes of law enforcement or it may have been by trigger-happy racists, but its still NBD.

Even when (thankfully) increasing numbers of people are becoming educated about the myth of Black criminality being just that, the cultural imperative demands that we not rest until we find some reason other than race to explain when an innocent dies. (As if any superficial explanation can excuse away the reality that when an innocent young Black man's life has been taken unnecessarily by a knee-jerk reaction on the part of a white person to objectively reasonable behavior, almost always at least some racial thinking was in the mix somewhere.) Maybe this is why when the "Blacks shouldn't commit so much crime" argument gets no play or is unsuccessful in quelling the legitimate outrage, the very next thing that the most obvious racists do when confronted with what would otherwise be an obvious slaughter of a human being for reasons due to behavior that is innocuous or which suggests that the slaughteree was actually himself afraid and trying to flee is to start harping on "why it is being ignored" that Black young men are killing other Black men.  

Forget for a moment the obvious question (Dear racist white person who raises this stupid-ass argument: if Black-on-Black crime is being ignored, how come you know all about it although you probably haven't actually talked to a Black person for more than 30 seconds or been in a neighborhood where Black-on-Black crime happens for more than 10 minutes EVER?) The important question is this: how on earth is this relevant to the discussion of a Black man dying at the hands of someone who isn't Black too often and why this is a serious problem??? The fact that some stupid Black people kill other Black people within their own neighborhoods over real or perceived grievances with each other says absolutely nothing about whether strangers, usually white but not always, have good reason to conclude that they don't have to judiciously exercise deadly force as a last, not first, resort when it comes to their interactions with unarmed young Black man, too often Black children. Two wrongs simply do not make a right.

I've witnessed crime and been a victim of it. I've interviewed hundreds of felons and former felons. Nobody sticking up the local dope spot did it 'cause the dealer was black or latino. They did it to get their hands on money and product. Most of the gangs I've worked with over the years are involved in turf wars and they'll fight whoever threatens their little piece of ground irrespective of race or ethnicity.  

But too many people are still overly defensive when discussions of racism are being held. And heaven forbid anyone brings up 'white privilege'—automatic lodestone for deniers, and defenders of that privilege (and racism). They are tenaciously racist in their denialism, or try to wrap legal fig leaves around the discussion to threadjack, and obfuscate.  

Time to stop allowing the threadjacks, and derailing and sailing on that "not a river in Egypt" (aka denial).  

If you'd like to brush up on derailing—suggest you read Jenée Desmond-Harris: How not to derail the dialogue on race. Her point 9 reads:

9. Resist the urge to believe and regurgitate myths about black people, even when they're promoted by black people (African-Americans are all more homophobic, black-on-black crime is uniquely bad, there are more black men in prison than in college, all black women love being fat, etc.). Take a minute to challenge the things you hear many say over and over. You'll often find they don't have a strong basis in reality.
Or go back to an older post by abagond "How to derail an argument about racism" who cites techniques from Derailing for Dummies:


If You Won’t Educate Me How Can I Learn
    If You Cared About These Matters You’d Be Willing To Educate Me
    You’re Being Hostile.
    But That Happens To Me Too!
    You’re Being Overemotional
    You’re Taking Things Too Personally
    You’re Not Being Intellectual Enough/You’re Being Overly Intellectual
    You’re Arguing With Opinions Not Fact
    Your Experience Is Not Representative Of Everyone
    Unless You Can Prove Your Experience Is Widespread I Won’t Believe It
    I Don’t Think You’re As Marginalized As You Claim
    Well I Know Another Person From Your Group Who Disagrees!
    A In B Situation Is Not Equivalent To X In Y Situation
    Who Wins Gold in the Oppression Olympics?
    You Have A False Consciousness
    You’re Not Being A Team Player
    You’ve Lost Your Temper So I Don’t Have To Listen To You Anymore
    You Are Damaging Your Cause By Being Angry
    Surprise! I Was Playing “Devil’s Advocate” All Along!
Okay. Rant over, but I'm not going to ignore folks who cite Fox not facts.

I have no problem with trying to educate, but there really is no good reason to tolerate repeated use of right wing tropes in what should be safe spaces.


                  News by dopper0189, Black Kos Managing Editor

A “confrontational cadence” can be familiar in black English, but it might also feed the sense among others that young black men are always about to “go off.” The Root: Do White Folks Fear Violence When Black Folks Are Just Being Blunt?.
n the aftermath of the Michael Dunn verdict, we’re talking again about how Americans process black boys as inherently violent. And they do.

Yet in an honest, and perhaps more productive, discussion of this topic, we have to allow something uncomfortable—the possibility that language plays a part in the stereotype. To whites, I highly suspect that often, black boys and men have a way of sounding violent.

Without meaning to, though, which makes it all harder to grapple with. Here’s an example:

The other day on the subway I heard two black men in their 30s talking about a misunderstanding that one of them had had at work that day. They were just unwinding after a long day, and yet there was what many might process as a tinge of impending battle in their voices, inflections and gestures. "Man, I wanted to ‘Mmmph!’ [jab of the arm, click of the tongue] Gimme a break! An' I was like ... [putting on a challenging glare] don’t even start.”
And these were perfectly normal guys having a conversation, which, between black men, was perfectly normal in its tone. No black listener would assume these guys actually meant the hints at violence literally. To us, this way of talking just sounds like two guys letting off steam.

However, outside listeners can hear this way of talking as edgy. Men talking this way can sound like they’re about to start something. The New Yorker’s Kelefa Sanneh once came up with a perfect term for this, in the context of writing about rap music and lyrics: a certain “confrontational cadence.”

Yes, trash-talking knows no race. But two equivalent white men talking about the same kind of thing are much less likely to have that particular confrontational cadence than black ones. This way of talking is more deeply seated in black culture, and researchers—sympathetic black academics—have documented it. An article by CUNY’s Arthur Spears, one of the deans of the study of black English, is a useful survey of what he terms black American "directness" in discourse


64 cents is not pocket change for black women. The Grio: The wage gap.
venty-seven cents is a number that most women are familiar with. Most recently, President Obama talked about its significance in his State of the Union address to Congress.

“You know, today, women make up about half our workforce, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. Women deserve equal pay for equal work.”

But the wage gap is even more substantial when race and gender are considered together, African-American women make only 64 cents (Latina women making 55 cents) for every dollar a man earns – almost 40 cents less.

That 23 cent deficit – 36 cents for black women — has become branded into references for women’s equality in the workplace based on yearly Census Bureau reports. But after the president’s speech, those figures took a hit, figuratively speaking. Several members of the media fact-checked Obama’s 77 cents figure and criticism ensued.

Los Angeles, California, USA --- Mixed race college students walking together --- Image by © Peathegee Inc/Blend Images/Corbis


Standard Bank has developed a range of services for low-income, financially excluded South Africans. But inclusive banking is not without challenges. The Guardian: Standard Bank: banking services for the poor in South Africa.
In the townships of South Africa, cash rules. An estimated 8 million economically active South Africans have no access to a bank account. Most of those are lumped into a "low income" bracket by the banking sector and duly ignored.

The day-to-day drawbacks for the unbanked are considerable. It means traipsing to a branch office to settle bills – incurring high charges on money transfers – and having nowhere safe to deposit your money, among other downsides.

"As the economy changed, we realised that we needed to find new business models that served all our customers. Also, we found new competitors coming in, such as Capitec and Abil, which were actually making money at the bottom of the pyramid," explains Funeka Montjane, chief executive for personal and business banking at Standard Bank.

Another commercial motivation spurring on Standard Bank was its corporate clients. South Africa's big brands are anxious to get a foothold in low-income consumer markets, but dealing in cash adds major costs and inefficiencies into the inventory process.

In response, Standard Bank has developed a suite of AccessBanking products and services tailored for the working poor in South Africa, ie those with monthly incomes of 8,000 rand (£434) or less.

The programme's flagship is a basic bank account. The service enables consumers to make deposits, withdraw money, make transfers and pay by card. An accompanying phone-banking service facilitates phone-based payments, too. Customers can also use their card, which is recognised in all major ATMs, to pay household bills and purchase phone credit.

A bank employee in Cape Town selling accounts on the street. Standard Bank wants to replace branch-based banking with bank services in local shops. Photograph: Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images


NYC recruited his Caribbean mother to teach, promising her family a new life. Now we won’t let him be a citizen. Salon: “In my heart, I’m American”: One man’s immigration nightmare of broken promises.
“I’ve pretty much not kept in touch with anyone from college, just because it’s so embarrassing to see how far they’ve gone,” Crichlow, 28, said without bitterness. “I’m pretty much stuck at the starting line.”

Crichlow was 16 years old when he arrived in the United States from his birthplace in Trinidad. He had always envisioned studying here to become an architect, and in 2001 he thought he had his chance.

Crichlow’s mother was one of hundreds of Caribbean teachers who arrived in New York at that time. According to the Black Institute, recruiters for New York City’s Department of Education promised teachers in the Caribbean work visas, green cards and the possibility of American citizenship for themselves and their families.

Immigration law allows workers to keep their children as dependents on their visas until the age of 21. That is what Crichlow and his mother did, believing that they would receive their green cards before then. But, when that didn’t happen, Crichlow needed to obtain a student visa instead. After graduation, the visa expired and, when he was unable to find a job during the depths of the recession in 2008, he became undocumented.

Crichlow is not alone. He co-chairs a group, the International Youth Association, which fights for comprehensive immigration reform in order to retrieve status for himself and others like him, charging that their plight has been pushed aside in the debate.

“We were asked to come here,” Mikhel Crichlow said. “The government didn’t hold up their end of the bargain.”

Crichlow and Alden Nesbitt, 23, formed TIYA in 2011. Initially created simply to help Caribbean teachers’ children, the group has expanded its focus on the plight of all young undocumented immigrants. The organization has hosted forums on immigration law and was among several groups that targeted New York Rep. Michael Grimm for his views on immigration reform last year.

There is no data for how many Caribbean teachers’ families are in this predicament. According to the Black Institute, the think tank of which TIYA is a part, 500 Caribbean teachers came to New York City during its teaching shortage between 2001 and 2003 to teach in at-risk schools. New York City’s Department of Education did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

            (Credit: Rafael Martinez)


MSNBC’s newest host has never held back when it comes to honest analysis of the issues that make America squirm. The Root: Why Joy Reid Will Be Real About Race and Politics.
Reid is no stranger to looking at current events through the lens of the African-American experience. On any given day at The Grio, she says, "our goal is to find what the broadest spectrum of black readers care about." She doesn't drop that perspective entirely at the door of the MSNBC set, either. While the demographics are different, she insists, "It's crucial that the African-American voice and perspective isn't drowned out."

Not far from her mind as she curates news and interviews guests on The Reid Report will be the book she's working on, which unpacks the racial and cultural history of the Democratic Party. And it's worth noting that when it comes to her ethnicity and political party, she sees the former as a more reliable lens through which to filter current events.

"It's hard not to view things as a black person. For African Americans, your racial identity is something that affects the way your life is lived out," she explains. "The Democrats used to be the Republicans, and if they were to go back, I wouldn't be there with them. The Democratic Party in this iteration is more welcoming ideologically to me, but these parties change."

A first-generation American with a father from the Congo and mother from Guyana, Reid says she was raised in a family that was not only hyper-engaged politically ("My mom taught us the importance of voting every time, from city council to the dog catcher,” she recalls), but also tended to see America from an outsider's perspective. "My mother's critique was very much an immigrant critique of the country—she viewed America in sort of an idyllic way, and then didn't find it to be that way," she says. Along with that critical take on politics and culture, she says her mom bestowed upon her something even more valuable for a pundit-in-the-making: plenty of encouragement to express herself. And that, she did.


Voices and Soul


by Justice Putnam
Black Kos Poetry Editor

"As much as things change, things remain the same." "Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it."

How many times have we heard those refrains? Yet, are they any less true if we had heard them but once? Or a lifetime's worth? It may be human nature that requires us to be constantly reminded of that which went before; or it may be the affliction Gore Vidal coined, "American Amnesia".

Langston Hughes wrote the following that has the eerie echo of events just happening. But he wrote it when jackboots were beginning a goosestep across the Polish plains; when an American Corporatocracy consolidated wealth in the hands of a distinct few, while tens of millions toiled and starved; when a respected journal published an...

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Look! See what Vanity Fair says about thenew Waldorf-Astoria:

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Now, won't that be charming when the last flop-house has turned you down this winter?


"It is far beyond anything hitherto attempted in the hotel world. . . ."

It cost twenty-eight million dollars. The famous Oscar Tschirky is in charge of banqueting.

Alexandre Gastaud is chef. It will be a distinguished background for society.

So when you've no place else to go, homeless and hungry ones, choose the Waldorf as a background for your rags--

(Or do you still consider the subway after midnight good enough?)


Take a room at the new Waldorf, you down-and-outers--sleepers in charity's flop-houses where God pulls a long face, and you have to pray to get a bed.

They serve swell board at the Waldorf-Astoria. Look at the menu, will you:


Have luncheon there this afternoon, all you jobless.
 Why not?

Dine with some of the men and women who got rich off of your labor, who clip coupons with clean white fingers because your hands dug coal, drilled stone, sewed garments, poured steel to let other people draw dividends and live easy.

(Or haven't you had enough yet of the soup-lines and the bitter bread of charity?)

Walk through Peacock Alley tonight before dinner, and get warm, anyway.

You've got nothing else to do.

-- Langston Hughes


Welcome to the Black Kos Community Front Porch


Originally posted to Black Kos community on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 01:00 PM PST.

Also republished by Firearms Law and Policy, Support the Dream Defenders, and Barriers and Bridges.

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