Homicides Are A Lot More Likely To Be “Justified” If The Corpse Is Black

John Roman examines the data on race, Stand Your Ground jurisdictions, and justifiable homicide:

Are there are racial disparities in justifiable homicide rulings? Out of 53,000 homicides in the database, 23,000 have a white shooter and a white victim. The shooting is ruled to have been justified in a little more than 2 percent of cases. In states with a SYG law (after enactment), the shooting is ruled to be justified in 3.5 percent of cases, compared to less than 2 percent in non-SYG states. In cases where both the victim and shooter are black, the numbers are almost identical, if slightly lower.

When the shooter and victim are of different races, there are substantial differences in the likelihood a shooting is ruled to be justified. When the shooter is black and the victim is white, the shooting is ruled justified in about 1 percent of cases, and is actually slightly lower in non-SYG states. Between 2005 and 2010, there were 1,210 homicides with a black shooter and a white victim—the shooting was ruled to be justified in just 17 of them (about 1 percent).

The story is completely different when there is a white shooter and a black victim. In the same time period, there were 2,069 shootings where the shooter was white and the victim black. The homicide was ruled to be justified in 236 cases (11 percent). In SYG states, almost 17 percent of white-on-black shootings were ruled to be justified.

Finally, I tested whether these racial disparities remained when we controlled for whether the victim and perpetrator were strangers, the state where the incident occurred, the year of the homicide, and whether the shooting occurred in a SYG state. The racial disparities remain large and significant. In fact, the odds that a white-on-black homicide is ruled to have been justified is more than 11 times the odds a black-on-white shooting is ruled justified.

No dataset will ever be sufficient to prove that race alone explains these disparities. But there are disparities in whether homicides are ruled to be self-defense, and race is clearly an important part of the story.

And from Roman’s follow-up post:

Now consider the situation that occurred in the Zimmerman case (and I note that none of these facts are in dispute). When there is a homicide with one shooter and one victim who are strangers, neither is law enforcement, and a firearm is used to kill, a little less than 3 percent of black-on-white homicides are ruled to be justified. When the races are reversed, the percentage of cases that are ruled to be justified climbs to more than 29 percent in non-SYG states and almost 36 percent in SYG states. [...]

[...] The answer to the question being asked across America today—would the verdict have been different if Zimmerman and Martin’s races had been reversed—is unknowable. But the available statistical evidence certainly suggests that Zimmerman walked into the courtroom with an advantage that Trayvon Martin would not have had.

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65 Responses to Homicides Are A Lot More Likely To Be “Justified” If The Corpse Is Black

  1. 1
    Sebastian says:

    When I see that he controlled for “one shooter and one victim who are strangers, neither is law enforcement, and a firearm is used to kill”, I wonder why he did not control for “when the shooter is at home” which is available in that database.

    If I still kept my gun at home, I would actually run the numbers myself.

  2. 2
    Sebastian says:

    Well, I found the database’s key, and there are at least three more things that I would have controlled for before using the data to make an argument that I knew was going to be picked up by a number of people who will not bother analyzing the method.

    I would only compare cases in which none of the actors is a felon, in which the residence codes is constant, and in which the ages are similar. I would not control for the associated crime, because that could be tainted by racial bias during the ruling.

  3. 3
    Sebastian says:

    And now I really want to know. Shit. If I end up downloading the damn thing and writing a program to crunch the data, I’ll blame you, Amp!

  4. 5
    Robert says:

    You also need to control for the possibility that maybe there are more white-on-black homicides that are justifiable by the race-blind scenario. (IE, to oversimplify, maybe 29% of white-kills-black scenarios are home invasions where the black person was the invader, and only 3% of the white-on-black scenarios are. I doubt that, but maybe.) I would say you need to have a unbiased review panel that is given race-redacted summaries of the scenarios, decide whether the shooting was defensible without knowledge of race, and then that data incorporated into the balance sheet.

  5. 6
    Sebastian says:

    Robert, you cannot take into account the crime during which the shooting was committed. If there is racial bias, it could affect whether the presence of the victim is considered a burglary attempt, simple trespassing, or an innocent mistake.

    As for an unbiased review panel, good luck with that. No panel can review the circumstances without holding the trial again with the race redacted. Practically impossible, and prohibitively expensive if somehow set up.

    I think that if you compare shootings between non-felon strangers of similar ages, where the shooting happened in the shooter’s residence, you will get meaningful data. Without those three controls, your results are garbage. Given that the data is available, John Roman is either an incompetent researcher, or a dishonest one.

  6. 7
    Robert says:

    Well you better get cracking on it then :)

  7. 8
    RonF says:

    Blacks benefit from Florida ‘Stand Your Ground’ law at disproportionate rate

    African Americans benefit from Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law at a rate far out of proportion to their presence in the state’s population, despite an assertion by Attorney General Eric Holder that repealing “Stand Your Ground” would help African Americans.

    Black Floridians have made about a third of the state’s total “Stand Your Ground” claims in homicide cases, a rate nearly double the black percentage of Florida’s population. The majority of those claims have been successful, a success rate that exceeds that for Florida whites.

    “These laws try to fix something that was never broken. There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force if — and the ‘if’ is important — if no safe retreat is available. But we must examine laws that take this further by eliminating the common-sense and age-old requirement that people who feel threatened have a duty to retreat, outside their home, if they can do so safely. By allowing and perhaps encouraging violent situations to escalate in public, such laws undermine public safety,” Holder said.

    “The list of resulting tragedies is long and, unfortunately, has victimized too many who are innocent. It is our collective obligation; we must stand OUR ground to ensure — (cheers, applause, music) — we must stand our ground to ensure that our laws reduce violence, and take a hard look at laws that contribute to more violence than they prevent,” Holder said.

    But approximately one third of Florida “Stand Your Ground” claims in fatal cases have been made by black defendants, and they have used the defense successfully 55 percent of the time, at the same rate as the population at large and at a higher rate than white defendants, according to a Daily Caller analysis of a database maintained by the Tampa Bay Times. Additionally, the majority of victims in Florida “Stand Your Ground” cases have been white.

    African Americans used “Stand Your Ground” defenses at nearly twice the rate of their presence in the Florida population, which was listed at 16.6 percent in 2012.

  8. 9
    Ampersand says:

    I think that if you compare shootings between non-felon strangers of similar ages, where the shooting happened in the shooter’s residence, you will get meaningful data. Without those three controls, your results are garbage. Given that the data is available, John Roman is either an incompetent researcher, or a dishonest one.

    Why not put the question to him in the comments of his blog? (Perhaps phrasing it a bit more politely.)

  9. 10
    Harlequin says:

    Black Floridians have made about a third of the state’s total “Stand Your Ground” claims in homicide cases, a rate nearly double the black percentage of Florida’s population.

    That’s a useless statistic–black people are arrested far above their percentage in the population. The question is, how does 1/3 of SYG claims compare to the fraction of all homicide cases with black Floridians as defendants?

  10. 11
    Ampersand says:

    In addition, although the article Ron quotes didn’t report this, according to the database that article used, in Florida SYG cases with a white accused and a black victim, there has been 1 conviction and 6 justified, or an 85% SYG success rate.

    In contrast, in Florida SYG cases with a black accused and a white victim, there have been 2 convictions and 4 justified, which is a 66% SYG success rate.

    The sample sizes in this database seem very small. Also, there’s a distinction between Stand Your Ground laws and invoking SYG as a defense. SYG laws, as I understand it (and this stuff is a little complex, so I may be getting it wrong) are a suite of reforms that have typically been passed together (including in Florida) which make claiming self-defense easier. They include, but are not limited to, the laws regarding invoking a SYG defense. So if you only look at cases with an explicit SYG invocation, that isn’t capturing the complete effect of SYG reforms.

  11. 12
    Harlequin says:

    Also, were those statistics from cases that made it to trial (which I would assume based on the language)? If so, there’s also the complication of who even gets arrested vs who doesn’t, based on a SYG claim.

  12. 13
    Robert says:

    Yeah, that would be huge actually. The Florida SYG law, when successfully directly applied, means no trial at all.

  13. 14
    Charles S says:

    There is also research showing that stand your ground laws have lead to an increase in the homicide rate. It is not actually a benefit to anyone if the idea that you don’t have a responsibility to retreat from violent or potentially violent conflicts means that there are more violent conflicts that escalate to serious injuries and homicides (however, that paper shows an increase in gun violence among whites in SYG states but is inconclusive for black people).

  14. 15
    John Roman says:

    Sebastian – thanks for your comments, no dishonesty here. We did control for ages in the piece that’s on PBS Frontline. The problem is that when you do so, the sample size gets really small. We did not control for where the shooting occurred because it is not recorded in the SHR data. I think I noted in every post that because that variable is missing, you cannot make causal claims from these data. They are quite compelling though.

  15. 16
    RonF says:

    Amp:

    In addition, although the article Ron quotes didn’t report this, according to the database that article used, in Florida SYG cases with a white accused and a black victim, there has been 1 conviction and 6 justified, or an 85% SYG success rate.

    In contrast, in Florida SYG cases with a black accused and a white victim, there have been 2 convictions and 4 justified, which is a 66% SYG success rate.

    The sample sizes in this database seem very small.

    Yeah, I’d have to say that with sample sizes that small about all you can say is that there’s no blatant difference between the two.

    Which makes you wonder what data sets Atty. Gen. Holder is using to support his claims that “The list of resulting tragedies is long and, unfortunately, has victimized too many who are innocent. … we must … take a hard look at laws that contribute to more violence than they prevent,” It seems to me that the hard look needs to be taken before you draw the conclusion that they contribute to more violence than they prevent, not after, and then see how long the list is.

    Now a national study such as the one Charles S. cites would be useful. Charles, do you have the actual text of that study available, or just the summary that shows on that page? I’d be interested in seeing how they control for all the other factors that cause variations in the homicide rate. It’s also interesting in the context of the Zimmerman trial that according to the summary the study does not show an increase in homicides of blacks due to the SYG laws (in that it is inconclusive in the matter).

  16. 17
    RonF says:

    From my viewpoint I’d say that SYG laws make a lot of sense. I’m not a particularly fast runner. If someone offers a deadly threat or actually assaults me and I turn and run because I have a legal obligation to use an escape route if one exists, I could end up being tackled from behind or otherwise assaulted from the back, with less ability to defend myself than if I could have drawn a deadly weapon while facing my assailant and thus keeping an eye on what she was doing and on any weapon she held.

  17. 18
    Robert says:

    It is not actually a benefit to anyone if the idea that you don’t have a responsibility to retreat from violent or potentially violent conflicts means that there are more violent conflicts that escalate to serious injuries and homicides

    This is proposed axiom (for society) or a stated axiom (for you), not a conclusion.

    Increased freedom of legally-acceptable action with a SYG law is beneficial to me, even if the chance of a particular conflict becoming violent is larger; my utility from the increased range of legally-acceptable choices is higher than my disutility from the increased chance of violence (maybe I like fighting), and my disutility from other people’s violent conflicts is nearly zero (maybe I don’t give a shit what happens to strangers).

    Your utility function is different; that’s fine. If you and Gandhi have more votes than me and Genghis, then you can have your preferred utility function valorized in the law.

    But neither you nor I get to decide whether or not something benefits ‘anyone’; ‘anyone’ gets to decide. Personally, though I see the legal complications they introduce and the potential for abuse, I prefer a legal environment where initiators of violence are cowed by the potential for their victims to fight back with legal sanction, and I’m quite willing to bear a high cost in increased violence for that environment to exist. For one thing, a lot of the ‘increased violence’ is going to be initiators of violence (i.e., criminal assailants, rapists, muggers, robbers) getting hurt or killed.

    I’m OK with that.

  18. 19
    Robert says:

    Ahhhh! Italic attack! Moderators to the rescue!

  19. 20
    RonF says:

    Here’s an analysis that lets you click on a map of the U.S. States that have SYG laws and see a line chart of what their homicide rates have been for a few years before and after they passed their SYG laws. Some of the charts don’t display the year the State passed the SYG law, though.

  20. 21
    Ampersand says:

    Sebastian – thanks for your comments, no dishonesty here. We did control for ages in the piece that’s on PBS Frontline. The problem is that when you do so, the sample size gets really small. We did not control for where the shooting occurred because it is not recorded in the SHR data. I think I noted in every post that because that variable is missing, you cannot make causal claims from these data. They are quite compelling though.

    John, thank you for clarifying that (and for your posts that I quoted so heavily!).

  21. 22
    Sebastian says:

    The disclaimer was not in what Ampersand re-posted. But even with the disclaimer, your results are still garbage. You made a very strong statement:

    But the available statistical evidence certainly suggests that Zimmerman walked into the courtroom with an advantage that Trayvon Martin would not have had.

    This would have had been true if, in your analysis, you had:

    1. Discarded the cases where one of the actors was a felon. (Trivial given the dataset)
    2. Discarded the cases where severe age disparity was present (Trivial given the dataset)
    3. Discarded the cases where the circumstances unequivocally make the case dissimilar to the Zimmerman/Martin one. (Relatively easy given the database)

    For number three, this is different from what Robert suggested. We are not going to accept the verdict, which can be racially tainted. We are going to discard cases where the verdict shows that the courtroom was different from the one in which Zimmerman walked.

    These are the three things that you SHOULD and COULD have done before you made any claims with the available data. Now, I admit that discarding those cases may have severely reduced your sample. What does the competent and honest researcher do when the experimental data is not enough to support a claim?

    Hey, I’m just a dumb Negro, what do I know? But I do know you knew enough to see that you should control for target/shooter relationship, and discard cases where law enforcement was involved. How come that you did not think to control for known felons? How comes you did not realize, before making strong claims, that those who would repeat your ‘findings’ and use them in arguments would drop even the rather incomplete disclaimers you posted.

    You set out to prove that red vehicles go slower. You remembered to make sure they all have four wheels, and that none of them were driverless at the time, but when you tried to discard the ones made from plastic, your sample got too small. So you posted a disclaimer, and did not even bother to check for an engine. So the push cars overwhelmed the fire engines, and you confirmed your theory. Well, your conclusions are garbage. As every Ork knows “Red ones go faster!”

    The problem is, your homicide conclusions are probably true, if not by an 11 to 1 ratio. But your ‘research’ right now is useless. And Ampersand should not have re-posted it.

  22. 23
    Conrad says:

    I’m not an expert in statistics, but it seems to me the study shows exactly what one would expect to find in a society where blacks are more likely to be criminals than whites.

    It would be the same, I suspect, if we looked at male and female shooters. Men in general are more likely to be criminals than women. Therefore, if we were to examine cases of alleged justifiable homicide where the shooter and the shootee were of different sexes, we would expect to find that the women shooters were more likely to be found justified in the shooting than the male shooters.

    Of course, that’s not to say all of the cases in which the woman shooter was found to be justified were decided correctly, or that the cases of male shooters’ being found guilty were all decided correctly. However, overall, if we accept that the criminal justice system is at least somewhat capable of sorting the good guys from the bad guys in a given type of situation, crime statistics would tend to explain at least part of the reason why the men were more likely to be determined not justified in using deadly force.

    I would think the same would hold true for any given subset of SD defense cases in which the shooters and shootees belonged to different demographic groups, and those groups had vastly disparate criminal tendencies. If we looked at armed confrontations between elderly Protestants, on the one hand, and teenage children of single parents, on the other, we would probably expect to find that the former group has a lower crime rate in general, AND that they were more likely to succeed in claiming SD as compared to the latter group.

    Just for fun, I’d suggest finding a black cohort (say, black females age 25 to 50) that has an overall similar crime rate to a white cohort (say, white men with some college education*) and see whether the black group still has any discernible disadvantage in establishing SD.

    (* Note: I’m not claiming these particular groups do have similar crime rates; just using them as an example of how the groups could be fashioned.)

  23. 24
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    I don’t think you’re acknowledging the circularity problem. As an example:

    Q1: How do we know that Group B has more criminal tendencies?
    . A1: We can assume it, because Group B has vastly different rates of criminal convictions.

    Q2: How do we know the higher criminal conviction %ages for Group B are reasonably just?
    . A2: We can assume it, because Group B has more criminal tendencies.

    See the problem?

    Anyway: There’s a bit of truth to your suggestion, if only because the court system pays a bit more attention to determining guilt/innocence for major charges than it is for minor (drug, etc.) charges. For example, there’s considerable support for the idea that much of the differing racial conviction rates are related to differing arrest/stop/warning rates by race, since obviously you’re a lot more likely to get arrested/convicted if you get stopped and frisked all the time. But when it comes to homicides and people getting shot, there’s usually going to be at least SOME tendency for the cops to look into it because, ya know, dead people. No evidence at all, but a gut feeling is that the differing arrest rates would have less of an effect for killings than for more minor crimes.

    But it’s important to recognize that there are a lot of SECONDARY racial explanations which go way, way, beyond the simplistic “courts are racist” issue. For example, say that Rich White Ron needed a witness. I could probably identify tons of people with a complete command of written and spoken English; spotless criminal history and arrest records; high education and erudition; excellent standing in the community; enough time/money to be able to devote some of it to Ron’s cause (whether it’s “being able to drive to the attorney’s office four times, all of them after hours” or “being able to afford a sitter on court days”); and so on.

    But Poor POC Paul is a relatively uneducated poor person living in a high-crime neighborhood, surrounded by a lot of other poor POC. His witnesses aren’t as good; not all of them are educated; some of them have arrest records because he’s unfortunate enough to live in a “stop and frisk” happy area; they can’t easily take on Paul’s problems; they don’t “sound good” on the stand; etc. Paul’s task of finding witnesses would be a hell of a lot more difficult. Therefore Paul is a lot more likely to be convicted.

    Paul is getting screwed by SECONDARY racial effects, not PRIMARY racial effects.

    We know that because there’s absolutely zero evidence that blacks commit more crimes because they’re black. There IS evidence, however, that some race-neutral groups (“poor” or “jobless” or “uneducated” or “living in substandard housing”) commit more crimes of particular types, sometimes much more*. We also know that there are disproportionate racial memberships in those classes, i.e. the group “poor” or “live in crowded tenement” has a higher %age of blacks compared to the %age of the national population. And we also have excellent reason to believe that blacks are targeted for arrest at higher rates than other races. This should be no surprise to anyone on this blog.

    That means that we would expect that the national analysis of “blacks” versus “whites” would show more blacks to be criminals. And that would be accurate… and inaccurate. It is technically true but it misstates the issue since the expected difference is probably unrelated to the fact that they are black as opposed to the fact that they’re poor (or a member of some other race-neutral class with higher crime/conviction rates.) The statement isn’t false, precisely–but it’s a failure of analysis, because it is not accounting for a really significant difference.

    * Which, again, is no surprise. Poor relatively-desperate people are more likely to commit armed robbery than a banker is. But poor people are very unlikely to commit securities fraud or steal $1 million from a client. Etc.

  24. 25
    Myca says:

    Conrad, part of the problem is that there’s a fairly massive amount of institutionalized racism in the criminal justice system. Examples include the racial disparity in drug arrests and sentencing versus drug use, the racial disparity in ‘random’ police stops, and the racial disparity in executions. So no, I don’t think we can assume that the white/black crime statistics are accurate.

    And it’s a self-reinforcing system – the existence of this racial disparity (which I would argue is the result of conscious, unconscious, or institutional racism) is now being cited by you as evidence for disregarding another form of racial disparity.

    Thus it has ever been, but it’s still shitty.

    —Myca

  25. 26
    Myca says:

    Or, alternately, what G&W said.

  26. 27
    Conrad says:

    @ 24: You make some interesting points about how black-white crimes statistics possibly overstate the actual relative criminality of blacks. However, I think it is really beyond dispute that, even accounting for the issues you raise, that blacks actually do commit more violent crimes than whites on a per capita basis.

    Take murder, for example. Something like 90% of murders of black people are committed by black people. Now, one could argue that some of the 90% that the FBI (or whoever) is attributing to black killers were in fact murders committed by white people. But common sense suggests it’s going to be a very small number. Subject to the caveat that I’m not an expert on crime statistics, I would speculate that, in order to be counted amongst the 90%, one either has to be convicted beyond a reasonable doubt in a trial conducted subject to a vast litany of due process protections OR, there was no arrest or conviction of a particular suspect, but there were witnesses to the crime who described the unknown killer as a black person.

    The point I’m making is that even if the police/FBI don’t know (or can’t prove) who the criminal was, in many, many instances they at least know the race of the killer.

    I don’t see any intellectual justification for saying that, because blacks may draw more attention from police than whites do, and therefore have a higher chance of getting caught up in the system as compared to whites, we should outright reject all statistical data showing that blacks are more likely to commit crimes than whites. And if we end up accepting that, yes, blacks really do commit more violent crimes per capita than whites, then the point I made above still stands, doesn’t it?

    As for the idea that blacks commit more crimes “because they are black,” I don’t think I ever said that. I’m sure at least part of the explanation may involve the problem of single-parenthood or other “race-neutral” factors. But whatever the underlying reason for it, the fact remains that blacks in this country are more likely than whites to commit violent crimes.

  27. 28
    Conrad says:

    @25: Myca, it’s one thing to claim the statistics are inaccurate (which would be true if they overstate black criminality by even a fraction of one percent). It’s another thing to claim that, in fact, a black person in this country in 2013 is no more likely to commit a violent crime than a white person or an Asian, i.e., that the statistics are presenting a completely false picture in terms of black criminality because all races are, in fact, committing violent crimes at exactly the same rate. Is that what you are claiming?

  28. 29
    Conrad says:

    This excerpt from James Q. Wilson in a 2002 book seems relevant to the discussion:

    “Estimating the crime rates of racial groups is, of course, difficult because we only know the arrest rate. If police are more (or less) likely to arrest a criminal of a given race, the arrest rate will overstate (or understate) the true crime rate. To examine this problem, researchers have compared the rate at which criminal victims report (in the National Crime Victimization Survey, or NCVS) the racial identity of whoever robbed or assaulted them with the rate at which the police arrest robbers or assaulters of different races. Regardless of whether the victim is black or white, there are no significant differences between victim reports and police arrests. This suggests that, though racism may exist in policing (as in all other aspects of American life), racism cannot explain the overall black arrest rate. The arrest rate, thus, is a reasonably good proxy for the crime rate.

    “Black men commit murders at a rate about eight times greater than that for white men. This disparity is not new; it has existed for well over a century. When historian Roger Lane studied murder rates in Philadelphia, he found that since 1839 the black rate has been much higher than the white rate. This gap existed long before the invention of television, the wide distribution of hand guns, or access to dangerous drugs (except for alcohol).”

  29. 30
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Races don’t commit violent crimes at the same rate. We don’t actually know what the exact rate is (there are probably uneven errors related to arrest influence, reporting influence, etc.) but given the wide disparity it would be amazing if there wasn’t a difference even after the overlap.

    But the point I’m trying to make is that race is functionally a proxy for the things that actually make those differences real. People use race because it is relatively easy to collect as a datapoint, not because it is the most relevant datapoint.

    I suspect that blacks also don’t like Chaucer as much as whites do, right? But it’s intuitively obvious that “love of Chaucer” is linked to “good Chaucer-loving English teacher” and not “whiteness” Similarly, “violence” is more linked to “social conditions” and not “blackness.”

    Saying “Blacks are more likely to commit a violent crime” is a bit like saying “blacks are less likely to love Chaucer.” Both may be true, but neither of them is really truthful.

  30. 31
    Myca says:

    It’s another thing to claim that, in fact, a black person in this country in 2013 is no more likely to commit a violent crime than a white person or an Asian, i.e., that the statistics are presenting a completely false picture in terms of black criminality because all races are, in fact, committing violent crimes at exactly the same rate. Is that what you are claiming?

    I don’t have enough information to either make or repudiate that claim. Honestly, I doubt you do either.

    I can, however make precisely that claim about drug offenses. Study after study shows that white folks and black folks use illegal drugs at roughly the same rate, and yet year after year, black folks are arrested for drug violations at a much higher rate.

    Why do you think that is?

    Do you think that the same reasoning might apply to other sorts of crimes?

    Why or why not?

    —Myca

  31. 32
    Charles S says:

    ” Men in general are more likely to be criminals than women. Therefore, if we were to examine cases of alleged justifiable homicide where the shooter and the shootee were of different sexes, we would expect to find that the women shooters were more likely to be found justified in the shooting than the male shooters. ”

    I’d like to see some actual evidence for this, rather than just assuming it.

    Even if it is true that women shooters are more likely to be found justified, that doesn’t mean that they are more likely to be justified, it could just as easily mean that women shooters are assumed to be more likely to be justified and that that influences jury decisions.

    People who live in low-crime environments are less likely to be in a situation where they need to kill in self defense as well as being in a situation where they decide to kill not in self-defense. I don’t see any reason to assume the ratio changes dramatically as the crime rate increases.

  32. 33
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Myca says:
    July 24, 2013 at 12:40 pm
    I can, however make precisely that claim about drug offenses. Study after study shows that white folks and black folks use illegal drugs at roughly the same rate, and yet year after year, black folks are arrested for drug violations at a much higher rate.
    Do you think that the same reasoning might apply to other sorts of crimes?

    Actually, no. At least not to homicides and very violent crime.

    Drug crimes are usually victimless for most purposes. They harm society and they harm users, but the users aren’t the ones who are reporting to the police (and the users may themselves be tagged as criminals.) Drugs are sort of in the general theme of “making more things illegal in general” combined with selective enforcement.

    Violent crimes have victims who report to the police, and there’s less discretion in dealing with them. That is especially true when it comes to homicide, which is really not very selective enforcement. It’s essentially the polar opposite of things like minor drug issues.

  33. 34
    Radfem says:

    I was following up on this murder case of an infant that happened in Georgia. Sometimes the assumptions of what racial demographic representative even fired the gun at a member of a racial demographic representative could be wrong or called seriously into question. When I first read the indictments against the teens, I wondered when they were going to get around to questioning the parents of the child.

    Earlier article in Huffington Post and I found reading some of the comments interesting.

  34. 35
    Robert says:

    The more crime you are surrounded by, the more that criminal actions will be perceived as reasonable solutions to problems. A problem which a person in the low-crime environment would never consider “solving” with murder, may in a very high-crime environment seem like a perfect candidate for the “I’ve Got A Little List” treatment. Or at least, so I would assume if I had to guess which way the correlation might run.

  35. 36
    Conrad says:

    @25: You may be right about how race serves as a proxy for other traits that might be more relevant. However, you can’t have it both ways: You can’t classify somebody as black for purposes of crime victimization but as “not a lover of Chaucer” for purposes of crime- commission. This is a discussion ABOUT race — just read the headline of the OP.

  36. 37
    Conrad says:

    “I can, however make precisely that claim about drug offenses. Study after study shows that white folks and black folks use illegal drugs at roughly the same rate, and yet year after year, black folks are arrested for drug violations at a much higher rate.

    Why do you think that is?”

    Without having researched the issue, my guess is that it’s because blacks tend to live in higher crime areas than whites, where there tend to be more NON-drug crimes, and of course more police activity, and so there is a greater chance of a police interaction that will lead to an arrest on drug charges. I also would speculate that because blacks tend to be poorer, and drugs tend to be expensive, that a black drug is more likely than a white drug user to involve himself or herself in other criminal activities in order to support a drug habit.

  37. 38
    Conrad says:

    Sorry, my “36″ is addressed to 30, not 25.

  38. 39
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Sure, Conrad. I don’t dispute that the black population of the US has a higher rate of committing violent crimes than would be expected by their numbers. I realize now that I didn’t say that precisely in the first paragraph of #30 (sorry) but that’s certainly what I meant to imply. I don’t know if the precise numbers are accurate because they may be skewed by other racial issues (arrest rates, etc.) but the rates are so far apart that I think it’s obvious there’s a real difference.

    But let’s face it: on the public level it is very, very, easy to take that statistic and (intentionally or not) reach some troubling conclusions. While I always like to acknowledge reality, in this particular case I think it is especially important to keep the caveats in mind, and to remember that race has absolutely no relation to biological behavior.

  39. 40
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    On the other thread, for example, you said this:

    Conrad says:
    July 25, 2013 at 8:40 am
    @ Marcus: Have you considered the possibility that you adversary is right, i.e., that while racism exists to some extent, and may marginally contribute to disparities in arrests, convictions, and sentencing, racism is not the leading factor in explaining those disparities?

    This is just the sort of thing I’m talking about. What “racism” do you mean?

    Let’s imagine that you have an idealistic 100% race-neutral criminal justice system, but that everything else in society is fully as racist as the old Jim Crow. Do you think you’d have racial disparities in conviction outcomes? (I do.) If so, you think it would be appropriate to assign those outcome differences to racism (I do) or would you assign them to something else?

  40. 41
    Conrad says:

    Not sure I really understand your questions. You’re asking me to assume a society in which racism is rampant, but one whose criminal justice system in particular is utterly without racism? First of all, I’m not sure that’s really possible. The CJS is comprised of people, and if the society at large is fundamentally racist, seems to me the CJS is bound to be infected with that same racism. The CJS may not be quite AS racist as society at large, but it doesn’t seem realistic to think it would be free of racism altogether.

    So I guess my answer is, ASSUMING society is racist, yes, I would expect that to have some affect on racial measures such as comparative conviction rates.

    However, (a) I don’t think American society is all that racist, frankly, at least insofar as it would subtract from the ability of police, judges, and jurors to distinguish between the guilty and innocent; (b) related to “(a),” it so happens that a lot of police officers, judges, and jurors in this day and age are black. It’s certainly true that a lot of cities in which young, black men are being arrested and jailed are largely governed by black elected officials and/or administrators. Therefore, even if anti-black racism exists, one would think it would be increasingly difficult for it to manifest itself through the mechanisms of the CJS. (c) There still remains the fact that, blacks are more likely to commit violent crimes than whites, possibly due to a combination of “secondary” factors like single-parent households, poverty, etc. We can agree that racism exists to some degree and that, to some degree, it may affect CJS outcomes as broken down by race. But the fact that racism may come into play to some degree in no way justifies the conclusion that racism is a significant factor in explaining racial disparities in crime statistics. I honestly think that this is a myth that some people cling to in order to avoid confronting uncomfortable truths.

  41. 42
    Myca says:

    I honestly think that this is a myth that some people cling to in order to avoid confronting uncomfortable truths.

    Which truths are those?

  42. 43
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    I honestly think that this is a myth that some people cling to in order to avoid confronting uncomfortable truths.

    [shrug] It may be a myth, but if so I won’t pretend it’s real. You and I haven’t had much discussion lately, but I’m not one to refuse to accept reality merely because I don’t like the outcome.

    I will not get into public discussions, though. It is beyond difficult for two dudes (I’m white, don’t know about you) to openly discuss a racial-difference hypothesis at all. It’s even MORE difficult if the hypothesis is that non-whites are inferior in any way.

    I don’t really like pussyfooting around when discussing things, but I would prefer not to have every reader think I’m racist for even entertaining the “wrong” hypothesis. So while I freely admit that you may be right, I’m not interested in having that discussion with you on Alas.

  43. 44
    alex says:

    Yeah, this is bullshit, you are only looking at known offenders, so 16k of murders of blacks with unknown offenders aren’t included and inflate your %s. At least don’t pretend you are looking at all homicides.

    Also Conrad’s right that the the % homicide calculation is weird. You can only justifiably kill people in proportion to the number of murders you commit? If a bunch of black people are flat out murdered, that’s great? because the % goes down?

  44. 45
    Conrad says:

    That the problems facing the black community aren’t caused by white racism but rather mainly are due to problems WITHIN the black community: single-parent households, over-dependence on government, poor leadership, the gangsta culture, etc.

  45. 46
    Conrad says:

    45 was in response to 42.

  46. 47
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    Conrad says:
    July 25, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    That the problems facing the black community aren’t caused by white racism but rather mainly are due to problems WITHIN the black community: single-parent households, over-dependence on government, poor leadership, the gangsta culture, etc.

    Figuring out whether something is “caused by white racism” is a bit like trying to find the head of the Nile.

    For example, are single parent households the fault of the black community? How much of that is the result of, say, “stop and frisk” policies combined with racial profiling combined with harsh drug laws?

    Is “over-dependence on government” the fault of the black community? They should get a job, right? The vast majority of business owners are white. Might be an issue.

    How about “poor leadership?” Surely that should be a black problem, right? Well, perhaps it is. And perhaps it’s not: it’s harder to generate leaders if you don’t have as much access to certain ladders.

    In the end, it’s really a question of when something is the “result of a choice” rather than the “result of circumstances.” Or both. And unsurprisingly, the decision to assign things one way or the other tends to be extraordinarily well matched with the decider’s personal views.

  47. 48
    Jake Squid says:

    If we just repeat, “Personal Responsibility,” long enough and loud enough racism will go away.

  48. 49
    Conrad says:

    “For example, are single parent households the fault of the black community? How much of that is the result of, say, “stop and frisk” policies combined with racial profiling combined with harsh drug laws?”

    Stop and frisk is the reason for high illegitimacy rates among blacks? Sorry but that strikes me as complete nonsense.

    I would acknowledge that some level of anti-black racism continues to exist in America, but I’d say it’s a small fraction of what it was 50 or 100 years ago. It would be absurd to deny this. Yet, despite the obvious decline of racism amongst whites over the years, the problems facing predominantly black communities — crime, drug abuse, unemployment, absentee parenting — seem to become more and more intractable. Clearly, there’s something at fault here besides the failure of a diminishing percentage of whites to treat blacks fairly.

    Unfortunately, among some supposedly thoughtful and open-minded people, the ONLY explanation for problems facing the black community that can be discussed openly is racism. Anything else, it seems, is taboo. And this leads to ridiculous, tortured thinking such as “stop and frisk causes black illegitimacy.”

  49. 50
    Conrad says:

    @ 48: And if we just repeat “racism” long enough and loud enough, the problems facing the black community will just go away?

  50. 51
    Ampersand says:

    Conrad:

    Sorry but that strikes me as complete nonsense. … And this leads to ridiculous, tortured thinking such as “stop and frisk causes black illegitimacy.”

    There’s an enormous amount of evidence that marriage rates, and single parenthood rates, are to a large degree a function of the pool of “marriageable men” in a community. It’s also fairly obvious that policies which target a particular community to have a large portion of their young men put into prison – such as “stop and frisk combined with racial profiling combined with harsh drug wars” – will have the effect of reducing the proportion of men who make attractive marriage partners, thus reducing the marriage rate. This is something that many people who are as smart as you and have been studying the question for a while believe to be true.

    So explain why that is all “nonsense” and “ridiculous” to even consider? Please make a coherent argument this time, instead of just hand-waving.

    Yet, despite the obvious decline of racism amongst whites over the years, the problems facing predominantly black communities — crime, drug abuse, unemployment, absentee parenting — seem to become more and more intractable.

    The idea that these problems are “intractable” in black communities is largely ideological. In fact, the degree of these problems change (and improve) over time.

    For instance, Births For Unmarried Black Women Have Been Dropping For Decades

    For instance, Blacks are both less likely to be arrested for homicide, and less likely to be victims of a violent crime, compared to past decades. (Ditto for chances of being a homicide victim. I couldn’t find a graph for arrested for violent offenses, so I don’t know which way that goes, but I suspect that’s down, too.)

    It’s weird that you mention drug abuse, since that’s a problem that’s more prevalent in almost all other racial communities than it is among Black Americans.

    As for unemployment, even you can’t be seriously claiming that Black unemployment rates are solely caused by Black community dysfunction and have no connection to the larger economy.

    Finally, while it’s certainly true that racism is much reduced from a century ago, but I don’t know how you’d measure it to determine “a small fraction.” If mostly-black schools aren’t as incredibly awful as they used to be, but are still noticibly worse on average than mostly-white schools, how do you determine if that’s 1/2 as bad or merely 1/8th?

    I’d say racism changed, mostly for the better – especially in terms of how openly people can express blatant racism without social reprisals – but in some ways – particularly, in terms of incarceration and the drug war – for the worse. I don’t think that evidence supports the idea that racism has stopped being a significant problem for Black people in the USA.

    Finally, PLEASE don’t whine about how your ideas about race can’t be discussed because people criticize them. Ideas like yours have been getting serious play in newspapers, in Congress, and in policy discussions for decades. It’s ridiculous of you to claim otherwise – there isn’t a single year when there aren’t books published arguing that racism is over and the black community is causing its own problems, and there’s an entire political party dedicated committed to the idea that anti-black racism is no longer something that matters.

  51. 52
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    And this leads to ridiculous, tortured thinking such as “stop and frisk causes black illegitimacy.”

    It’s not especially ridiculous. Here’s a fairly basic example:

    Stop and frisk leads to a significantly increased arrest rate of the class which is stopped and frisked. That is largely because our society is making more things illegal, which permits selective enforcement.

    A significantly increased arrest rate leads to a significantly increased imprisonment rate.

    A prison record has a gazillion consequences, which include (1) unavailability, obviously, while you’re in prison; (2) severe and often life-long employment and earning issues; (3) potential prison abuse/violence which makes the inmate less sociable and attractive; and (4) increased consequences in future stop/frisk arrests, because of the criminal record.

    If you have an unusually large percentage of the population which is in prison (or which has been in prison) that definitely has an increased social effect.

    Does it mean that “the problem” is racism? Nope. There is no way to identify “the problem” anyway. But as for the “obvious” conclusion that stop/frisk is just about arrests and not about social dynamics… well, that’s simply incorrect.

    The problem is that everything can be traced in SOME respect to one’s surroundings…. and in the US, the trappings of the country have, by and large, been developed and set and controlled by white people–including many openly racist white people.

    At some point you end up having to draw an arbitrary line about what does or does not matter–just like we draw an arbitrary line about which group of people is entitled to a particular plot of land, if it’s been the subject of millennia of conquest.

    Unfortunately, among some supposedly thoughtful and open-minded people, the ONLY explanation for problems facing the black community that can be discussed openly is racism. Anything else, it seems, is taboo.

    Sad but true. It is not socially appropriate among white liberals to allege that the problems of a POC community are primarily a result of the choices/actions/culture of the POC community. It would not become socially appropriate even the allegations happened to be true. At least with respect to social issues, the left is often more concerned with appearances than with substance. Conservatives have the same problems with different subjects. That’s just how the ball rolls these days.

  52. 53
    Radfem says:

    Unfortunately, among some supposedly thoughtful and open-minded people, the ONLY explanation for problems facing the black community that can be discussed openly is racism. Anything else, it seems, is taboo.

    Not necessarily. I’ve worked in youth violence movements that plenty else was discussed besides racism. Perhaps in ways that didn’t lead back to racist views which often happens when conservatives (and more than a few liberals as well) point to these communities as proof that members of certain racial groups are inherently stupid and inherently violent to avoid talking about racism as a component alongside other factors. For anyone who argues against that happening, with all due respect, I’ve seen it happen quite a bit and not necessarily dependent on political ideology. But institutional racism ties into so many of the other “reasons” too unfortunately so it’s not always easy to tackle some of the other reasons and I’m speaking from a practical viewpoint, not one steeped in researching how the experts of both ideologies see it if they can even agree.

    As far as the topic it seems that some juror(s) might agree with that. Doesn’t surprise me I’ve seen this happen in jury verdicts before especially with crappy laws in place.

  53. 54
    Conrad says:

    @51: “There’s an enormous amount of evidence that marriage rates, and single parenthood rates, are to a large degree a function of the pool of ‘marriageable men’ in a community. ”

    It’s still the choice of unmarried black women whether or not to have babies, right? And it’s the choice of black men to be involved in drugs, gangs or other illegal activities. It’s not white racists who are making young black men “unmarriageable” or who are making black women have babies with unmarriageable men. (Also, even if the drug laws were relaxed, resulting in fewer drug arrests and prison sentences, are you saying that would make the black man who uses crack “marriageable”? It’s not simply about the illegality of the drug use; it’s the drug use itself that’s a big problem, don’t you think?)

    “It’s also fairly obvious that policies which target a particular community to have a large portion of their young men put into prison . . . ”

    So now you’re ASSUMING that racism is at the heart of this in support of your argument that racism is at the heart of this? (And it’s MY argument that’s incoherent. Got it.)

    Re declining birth rates: The relevant statistic is the number of black babies who are forced to grow up in a home without a father. If the birthrate is falling amongst unmarried black women, that’s fine (although it’s falling faster among married black women, as I understand it). But the fact remains that, according the NYT, “73 percent of black children are born outside marriage, compared with 53 percent of Latinos and 29 percent of whites.” That’s a problem. And it SEEMS to be one that makes all of the other problems — e.g., criminal activity, government dependency, unemployment, etc. — MORE intractable, because those babies are going to have a tougher time staying in school, staying away from drugs and gangs, avoiding poverty, and otherwise becoming “marriageable” at some point in the future.

    If you think I’m being overly pessimistic about the prospects for the next generation of black kids, believe me, I dearly hope you are correct. But understand that whistling past the graveyard will not MAKE you correct.

    Re drug use being more “prevalent” among other races: I do not believe this is so. From what I have read, the studies suggesting blacks and whites are using drugs at about the same rate are generally based on self-reporting. Studies that compare people’s self-reported drug use with their actual blood or urine tests show that people — but most especially black people — under-report their drug use.

    However, if it comforts you to believe that drug addiction is not a particularly bad problem within the black community, please carry on.

    “As for unemployment, even you can’t be seriously claiming that Black unemployment rates are solely caused by Black community dysfunction and have no connection to the larger economy.”

    Even you can’t be seriously claiming I ever said that. Obviously, black workers are affected by the larger economy. The issue is that black unemployment rates are vastly higher than those that exist in the larger economy. Which, of course, is exactly what one would expect given the other problems we are talking about. It is not hard to see that someone whom you would classify as “unmarriageable” might be looked upon as unemployable as well.

    Apparently the following constitutes a “coherent” argument: “Finally, while it’s certainly true that racism is much reduced from a century ago, but I don’t know how you’d measure it to determine “a small fraction.” If mostly-black schools aren’t as incredibly awful as they used to be, but are still noticibly worse on average than mostly-white schools, how do you determine if that’s 1/2 as bad or merely 1/8th? ”

    I don’t mean to presume to see the logic in what you wrote, but I THINK what you are attempting to do here is use bad predominantly-black public schools as a proxy for measuring the extent of white racism in America. If that’s your point, then it is not well taken. Again, you are ASSUMING white racism is at the heart of the problem (in this case) of bad schools. That assertion requires evidence, of which you have provided none. Moreover, I’d point out that school and school systems in predominantly black communities tend to be run in large part by black teachers, administrators, and other professionals. I do not believe that the public school establishment in large urban areas is exactly a bastion of anti-black prejudice.

    “I’d say racism changed, mostly for the better – especially in terms of how openly people can express blatant racism without social reprisals – but in some ways – particularly, in terms of incarceration and the drug war – for the worse. I don’t think that evidence supports the idea that racism has stopped being a significant problem for Black people in the USA.”

    Well, you seem to be forcing that conclusion on yourself by attributing any and all problems facing Black people in the USA to racism. Since those problems are terrible and seemingly mounting, well, it only follows that white racism is still a problem. QED.

    “Finally, PLEASE don’t whine about how your ideas about race can’t be discussed because people criticize them. Ideas like yours have been getting serious play in newspapers, in Congress, and in policy discussions for decades. It’s ridiculous of you to claim otherwise – there isn’t a single year when there aren’t books published arguing that racism is over and the black community is causing its own problems, and there’s an entire political party dedicated committed to the idea that anti-black racism is no longer something that matters.”

    I disagree. Generally, any white person who takes the position that racism isn’t the core problem facing the black community is dismissed as a racist. A black person who does that is called an Uncle Tom. Sure, people can TALK about these issues from the outside, but its not socially acceptable to do so for someone seeking to maintain his or her bona fides on the liberal end of the spectrum (white or black).

    BTW, I should add that I respect and appreciate your willingness to engage in the present discussion with me. (If I’m whining, I’m not “whining” about you.) I do believe, however, that someone on your end of the spectrum has to walk on eggshells to avoid getting into politically incorrect territory on these issues. There isn’t, from what I can see, an atmosphere that is exactly welcoming of the kind of perspective people like Bill Cosby have sought to bring to the discussion.

  54. 55
    Jake Squid says:

    The ghosts of Personal Responsibility Past, Present and Future continue to wail. I find that mantra less than convincing. The last person I paid attention to who mindlessly repeated that is a very, very smart guy. He was wailing, “Personal Responsibility” wrt the economic crash and mortgages. It led him down the path to claim that Obama time-traveled to the 90s to force Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to offer mortgages to woefully underqualified applicants.

    You can cry Personal Responsibility to the end of time, but it’s not going to be as persuasive as the evidence provided by folks like Ampersand.

  55. 56
    Conrad says:

    Part of the problem I see with placing so much emphasis on racism as the reason behind problems in the black community (I mean, apart from the basis issue of whether it is really to blame) is that I don’t see how the overall level of racism — at least “functional” racism — can really be reduced significantly from where it is now. Clearly, we have eliminated all forms of official anti-black racism (slavery, Jim Crow, permissible discrimination in hiring, housing, etc. based on race, etc.) There are no longer any lynchings, no firehoses, no standing in the doorway to prevent university enrollment, etc.

    Just as clearly, we can’t FOR CERTAIN eliminate all racism, because that would require us to know what private thoughts were percolating inside everyone’s minds. We can only eliminate the racism that actually manifests itself in some external to way to the detriment of another person. (On this point, I would add that there is something called freedom of expression, and it shouldn’t actually be a government concern what people believe, so long as people act in a lawful manner. Hope that’s not considered a radical concept here.)

    Whatever racism exists in this country has been driven underground. It’s not acceptable to use racial epithets or to express the view that the mother next door to the house I grew up in did, in completely casual fashion, that while black people should have equal rights, they should only marry other black people.

    But even saying it has been “driven underground” overstates the situation: I know that same mother next door, who’s now about 80, no longer opposed mixed-race marriages. It isn’t a case of white people only wearing their white sheets and hoods at home with the curtains drawn, it’s that their views have actually changed. White people aren’t, by and large, just pretending to not be racists, they AREN’T racist, at least not in way that operates to the practical disadvantage of blacks.

    If someone wants to argue that a certain level of racism still exists within the average white’s person’s heart (which is impossible to disprove, btw), then where do we go with that? How is anyone going to convince a white person that “No, you really ARE racist,” in order to get them to support what you consider to be the right public policy position to address or redress that racism? Clearly, that’s a pointless exercise.

    Therefore, the focus on alleged rampant racism as the reason behind actual, major problems in the black community is a bit of a dead end. I don’t see any way, as a practical matter, to sharply reduce whatever racism is believed to continue to exist, unspoken and un-acted upon, in the hearts of white people. So whatever problems are supposedly being caused by that unspoken and un-acted upon racism are going to require some other kind of solution besides the complete eradication of prejudice.

    And those problems need to be solved, btw. If the solution isn’t to eliminate the remaining residue of white racism — and I don’t see how that constitutes a practical solution — then what is the point of focusing on white racism as an issue? If someone is born with only one arm, they quickly figure out that it doesn’t make much sense to lament their lack of a second arm. They have to make do with one arm. If it’s an inherent fact of life that black people are a minority and the majority race — because they are a majority — is inherently racist if only (mainly) at a subconscious level, then I don’t see where that leads in terms of solving the minority group’s collective problems.

  56. 57
    Conrad says:

    @55: You’re the only one here who has even mentioned personal responsibility.

  57. 58
    gin-and-whiskey says:

    And this leads to ridiculous, tortured thinking such as “stop and frisk causes black illegitimacy.”

    It’s not especially ridiculous. Here’s a fairly basic example:

    Stop and frisk leads to a significantly increased arrest rate of the class which is stopped and frisked. That is largely because our society is making more things illegal, which permits selective enforcement.

    A significantly increased arrest rate leads to a significantly increased imprisonment rate.

    A prison record has a gazillion consequences, which include (1) unavailability, obviously, while you’re in prison; (2) severe and often life-long employment and earning issues; (3) potential prison abuse/violence which makes the inmate less sociable and attractive; and (4) increased consequences in future stop/frisk arrests, because of the criminal record.

    If you have an unusually large percentage of the population which is in prison (or which has been in prison) that definitely has an increased social effect.

    Does it mean that “the problem” is racism? Nope. And there is no single “the problem” anyway. But as for the “obvious” conclusion that stop/frisk is just about arrests and not about social dynamics… well, obvious though it may be, it’s simply incorrect.

    Of course, everything can be traced in SOME respect to one’s surroundings…. and in the US, the trappings of the country have, by and large, been developed and set and controlled by white people–including many openly racist white people.

    That does not mean that every problem is whitey’s fault. At some point you end up having to draw an arbitrary line about what does or does not matter–just like we draw an arbitrary line about which group of people is entitled to a particular plot of land, if it’s been the subject of many owners. Harlem is a “black enclave” not a “Dutch immigrant enclave,” and that’s just how it is.

    Unfortunately, among some supposedly thoughtful and open-minded people, the ONLY explanation for problems facing the black community that can be discussed openly is racism. Anything else, it seems, is taboo.

    Largely, this is true. It is not socially appropriate among white liberals to allege that the problems of a POC community are primarily a result of the choices/actions/culture of the POC community. It would not become socially appropriate even the allegations happened to be true. At least with respect to the subject of racism, the left is often more concerned with appearances than with substance. Conservatives have identical problems–with different subjects. That’s just how the ball rolls these days.

    I don’t like it. I’m personally a fact oriented person and I do not think that objective facts can be inherently ___ist. But it is what it is.

  58. 59
    Jake Squid says:

    @55: You’re the only one here who has even mentioned personal responsibility.

    Really? Here’s you from comment # 54:

    It’s still the choice of unmarried black women whether or not to have babies, right? And it’s the choice of black men to be involved in drugs, gangs or other illegal activities. It’s not white racists who are making young black men “unmarriageable” or who are making black women have babies with unmarriageable men.

    So. Not the literal words “Personal Responsibility” but it’s synonym, “Choice”. It’s the same mantra and I read that and immediately thought, “Time traveling Obama. Personal Responsibility.” It’s the exact same argument.

  59. 60
    Jake Squid says:

    Stupid lack of editing leads to embarrassingly wrong version of “its”. A curse on the lack of the edit button!

  60. 61
    Harlequin says:

    Conrad @54 and 56:

    Moreover, I’d point out that school and school systems in predominantly black communities tend to be run in large part by black teachers, administrators, and other professionals. I do not believe that the public school establishment in large urban areas is exactly a bastion of anti-black prejudice.

    But all the hard work done by black teachers, administrators, and other professionals can’t make up the difference if the public schools are underfunded and all the wealthy people send their kids to private schools. For instance, when the Chicago public school teachers went on strike last year, one of the things they were striking for was a guarantee that they’d have textbooks on the first day of class–because that was something that wasn’t happening.

    The issue is that black unemployment rates are vastly higher than those that exist in the larger economy. Which, of course, is exactly what one would expect given the other problems we are talking about.

    It’s also what one would expect if, for example, black men without criminal records were as likely as, or less likely than, white men with equivalent resumes and felony convictions to receive a callback on a job application (to name just one of many possible effects).

    How is anyone going to convince a white person that “No, you really ARE racist,” in order to get them to support what you consider to be the right public policy position to address or redress that racism? Clearly, that’s a pointless exercise.

    It worked pretty well on me.

  61. 62
    Conrad says:

    @59: I didn’t add the moral judgment that “responsibility” implies. All I was pointing out that the cause of too many black kids growing up in single-parent homes — which everyone agrees is disadvantageous to the child — is black women having babies out of wedlock. That’s where the problem resides, not 1000 miles away ata KKK rally. You, I, or they are free to attach or not attach whatever value judgments we want about that decision, but that has nothing to do with what I said.

  62. 63
    Robert says:

    But all the hard work done by black teachers, administrators, and other professionals can’t make up the difference if the public schools are underfunded and all the wealthy people send their kids to private schools.

    Underfunding of schools is undoubtedly problematic when it occurs. And it does not strike me as implausible that a serious differentiation in funding levels between schools might contribute to a persistent gap in achievement.

    But that the funding gap (when real) creates an unclosable achievement gap seems difficult to believe in light of the experience of other countries. You’ll get something for the extra dollars, probably – but it won’t be guaranteed preeminence. We spend many multiples of what Kenya spends; bright American elementary school children and bright Kenyan elementary school children inhabit the same intellectual universe.

    Further, while the inequality of funding is pretty hard to deny, the adequacy of the low end of the scale is similarly resistant to dismissal. The poorest school district in the United States spend about a third as much per capita as do the richest. But the richest are spending $25,000 per capita, meaning that the poor people have schools where the funding is $8k a head.

    I can make a public school system that does a pretty decent job for that sum. It won’t outshine the $25,000 district very often. But – the other cultural-confidence requirements of public education being assumed present – I can make one that does just fine.

  63. 64
    Conrad says:

    @63: I think a lot of big city public school districts are spending well north of $20,000/head, not just “wealthy” districts. I think L.A. is like $27,000/head. These districts might say they don’t have money for books, but that’s only because of what they’re spending on everything else, including mushrooming payrolls loaded with a bunch of non-teacher administrative positions that didn’t exist a generation ago. My kids go to a completely no-frills parochial school where the tuition is like $6000/year (and no taxpayer support, obviously — although some from the archdiocese). They have teachers, a principal, a school nurse, an admissions director (partly compensated thru tuition discount), a librarian, a secretary, a janitor, and I believe that’s it as far as staff goes. This is in a suburb of a major coastal city, btw, not in middle of Nebraska. Parents take care of school lunches, running clubs, etc. Everybody’s working for far, far less than the public schools pay, and there are no pensions or anything like that. And it’s a great school.

  64. 65
    closetpuritan says:

    it so happens that a lot of police officers, judges, and jurors in this day and age are black. It’s certainly true that a lot of cities in which young, black men are being arrested and jailed are largely governed by black elected officials and/or administrators. Therefore, even if anti-black racism exists, one would think it would be increasingly difficult for it to manifest itself through the mechanisms of the CJS.
    I wouldn’t be so sure.

    When police departments are accused of racial profiling, white officers are generally the ones facing scrutiny. But a Boston Globe analysis of 20,000 Boston police tickets and warnings tells a different story: Minority officers here are at least as tough as whites on minority drivers, and sometimes tougher.

    For the most common violation, speeding 10 to 15 miles per hour over a 30 m.p.h. limit, white officers ticketed 30 percent of white Bostonians and 38 percent of minorities.

    Minority officers were less lenient overall, issuing fewer warnings to all drivers.

    And the racial gap was wider, with minority officers ticketing 43 percent of whites and 54 percent of minorities at the same speeds, the Globe found.

    Further, the records show that black officers were toughest on Latino drivers, ticketing 67 percent of Latinos, but just 47 percent of blacks.

    Whether the reverse is true – for Latino officers ticketing blacks – could not be determined because the number of those citations is too small to be statistically significant.

    (This was just the first example that I found, but I’ve heard many times in various news stories that nonwhite police officers are no less likely to profile POC than white officers. I don’t know what studies have been done on judges, jurors, etc.)

    @51: “There’s an enormous amount of evidence that marriage rates, and single parenthood rates, are to a large degree a function of the pool of ‘marriageable men’ in a community. ”

    It’s still the choice of unmarried black women whether or not to have babies, right? And it’s the choice of black men to be involved in drugs, gangs or other illegal activities. It’s not white racists who are making young black men “unmarriageable” or who are making black women have babies with unmarriageable men.

    I’m not sure what the point of this comment is. Are you saying that these choices are due to problems with black culture and that given a similar set of circumstances, white women would make better choices? (The ones at boyfriend’s mostly-white, mostly-minimum-wage workplace don’t seem to be making better choices…) Or are you saying that, well, society as a whole may have set up conditions that make unwed motherhood more appealing to blacks by reducing the pool of marriageable men, but that doesn’t mean society has any moral responsibility for that?

    Charles Murray, that paragon of PC white liberal guilt [sarcasm], has been pointing out how white working-class Americans are having more out-of-wedlock births, etc. Maybe because there are more unmarriageable men among working-class whites now? Or maybe because white values have gotten worse? Charles Murray thinks it’s the latter, I guess, I think it’s more the former.