False media narratives: why don’t we talk about “white on white” crime?

The Root: Don’t White People Kill Each Other Too?

Closeup of a brightly decorated Christmas tree showing a Star Wars Stormtrooper action figure taking aim at a Frosty The Snowman hanging ornament

White On White Violence by Tracy27, on Flickr | Shared under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

(some text bolded for emphasis by me):

What Will, Steele and O’Reilly failed to mention is the exacting truth that white Americans are just as likely to be killed by other whites. According to Justice Department statistics (pdf), 84 percent of white people killed every year are killed by other whites.

In fact, all races share similar ratios. Yet there’s no outrage or racialized debate about “white on white” violence. Instead, the myth and associated fear of “black on black” crime is sold as a legitimate, mainstream descriptive and becomes American status quo.

The truth? As the largest racial group, whites commit the majority of crimes in America. In particular, whites are responsible for the vast majority of violent crimes. With respect to aggravated assault, whites led blacks 2-1 in arrests; in forcible-rape cases, whites led all racial and ethnic groups by more than 2-1. And in larceny theft, whites led blacks, again, more than 2-1.

Given this mathematical truth, would anyone encourage African Americans to begin shooting suspicious white males in their neighborhoods for fear that they’ll be raped, assaulted or murdered? Perhaps George Zimmerman’s defenders should answer that question. If African Americans were to act as irrationally as Zimmerman did, would any rationale suffice to avoid arrest?

And why is no consideration given to the fact that Trayvon Martin, and millions of black boys and girls like him, harbor a reasonably founded fear of whites but are hardly ever provided the deference and dignity that victimhood affords?

The term “black on black” crime is a destructive, racialized colloquialism that perpetuates an idea that blacks are somehow more prone to violence. This is untrue and fully verifiable by FBI, DOJ and census (pdf) data. Yet the fallacy is so fixed that even African Americans have come to believe it.

The false narrative of “black on black” crime has led to over-policing of African-American-majority districts, which has led to disproportionately higher arrest rates, which has reinforced the impression that blacks were committing more crimes.


Tangential: “Stand Your Ground” laws don’t seem to work so well for a black man who kills a white man in self-defence.



Categories: culture wars, language, media, social justice, violence

Tags: , ,

14 replies

  1. Awesome stats; awesome point!

  2. And the myth has just been given a boost by John Derbyshire’s disgraceful co-option of “The Talk” meme.

  3. What a great blog you have; thank you :-)
    Speaking of questionable narratives, I’m wondering if you’ve ever heard of Psychiatrist Jonathan Metzl, whose book “The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease”, discusses how angry African American were patholigised and therefore discredited. It’s a chilling read, and he appeared on “all in the mind” a couple of years ago to discuss the his book and research. Here’s the link.

  4. Perhaps I shouldn’t be, but I’m actually surprised by one aspect of the report. It appears tha people in the USA are either black or white. Don’t Hispanics constitute about 15-20% of the USA population? Did they get classified as white or black or just completely omitted? What about other racial groups?
    I do think you’ve cherry picked the report a bit. For example from the report:

    In 2008, the offending rate for blacks (24.7 offenders per
    100,000) was 7 times higher than the rate for whites (3.4
    off enders per 100,000)

    Victim rates also have the same imbalance. I bet if you adjusted for socio-economic circumstances there would be much less of a difference which is one reason why the report could be quite misleading. Also perhaps there is skewing based on racist attitudes of police/jurors etc.
    And whilst I agree that intraracial homicides are much more prevalent than interracial if you look at figure 20a which just looks at stranger homicides you have:
    White on white – ~40%
    Black on black – ~30%
    Black on white – ~18%
    White on black – ~8%
    Although those results could be skewed in that race was only known for 63% of homicides. Socio-economic factors would have a big influence here too presumably.
    Though again I don’t think you can actually draw that much from the report. Lots of areas in the US are heavily effectively heavily segregated. So its both expected that intraracial violence is higher than interracial (more likely to kill people you know) and that the “fear of unknown” factor means that black people in predominantly white neighbourhoods and white people in black neighbourhoods are looked on with an undeserved level of suspicion.

    • Chris, please be a bit more careful with attribution. How exactly have I cherry-picked a report when all I’ve done is link to somebody else’s article? Critique their analysis by all means, but why attribute it to me? And which report are you referring to, given that they link to several?

  5. Ah, sorry tigtog for the wrong attribution. And I was referring to the Justice department report. I find it rather odd that they would split the US into a simplistic black/white racial divide and wonder if they received a lot of complaints for doing so.

    • Per the US Census Bureau, Hispanic/Latino is considered to be an ethnicity rather than a race, so there are White Hispanics and non-White Hispanics, which would seem to come as a surprise to vast swathes of the race-baiting media.

      As of 2010, 50.5 million or 16.3% of Americans were ethnically Hispanic or Latino.[15] Of those, 26.7 million or 53% were White.

      Considering that the claim from Fox Media pundits which they are rebutting is that black-on-black homicides are way more likely than for white-on-white, their citing of the 84% figure from the DOJ report (pdf) for white-on-white homicides seems quite fair, especially when combined with the figures for the FBI’s UCR that 50% of those arrested for murder in 2010 were White.
      The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report for 2010 summarises as follows:
      Arrests, by Race, 2010
      In 2010, 69.4 percent of all individuals arrested were white, 28.0 percent were black, and 2.6 percent were of other races.
      Of all juveniles (individuals under the age of 18) arrested in 2010 in the Nation, 66.3 percent were white, 31.1 percent were black, and 2.6 percent were of other races.
      Nearly 70 percent (69.9) of all adults arrested in 2010 were white, 27.5 percent were black, and 2.6 percent were of other races.
      White individuals were arrested more often for violent crimes than individuals of any other race, accounting for 59.3 percent of those arrests.
      The percentages of adult white and black arrestees for murder were similar, with 50.0 percent being white, and 48.0 percent being black.
      Juveniles who were black accounted for 50.5 percent of juvenile arrests for violent crimes.
      Juveniles who were white accounted for 64.0 percent of juvenile arrests for property crimes.
      Of juvenile arrestees charged with driving under the influence, 91.2 percent were white.
      Juveniles who were white accounted for 75.4 percent of juvenile arrests for arson in 2010.

  6. tigtog @ 7 – ah, thats very interesting. Still, the DOJ left out Asians who constitute about 5% of the population which is not that insignificant that blacks constitute about 13%. No idea how they handle mixed race in their stats, but perhaps its not that common enough to be statistically significant.
    Comparing the numbers of offenders between groups doesn’t mean a whole lot without taking into account the number of number of people in each group. For example as a percentage of world CO2 emissions Australia emits quite a small amount. But on a per capita basis we’re one of the worst (if not the worst) emitters. Or as another example, the actual number of indigenous deaths in custody is quite low compared to non indigenous. But comparing number of deaths is not that informative as for a period of time the per capita rate for indigenous people was much higher.
    So 50% of people arrested for murder being white and 48% black it gives one impression. But when if you then add that 72% of the population identifies as white and 13% as black it looks quite different again.

    • @Chris, I do see the statistical validity of the point that you are arguing, I’m just not sure that it’s particularly relevant in terms of the media narrative which is being challenged by the linked article.

  7. Every source you’ve posted proves blacks commit disproportionately more crimes than should be attributed to their 12% share of the US population.
    The real reason they don’t talk about white on white crime or even black on black crime is because there’s no race angle for the media to sensationalize. In China, homicides between two different ethnicities, even if based on racism, are portrayed as simple murders and downplayed outside of regional media. That is the wiser path all nations should take to ensure ethnic harmony.

    • Every source you’ve posted proves blacks commit disproportionately more crimes than should be attributed to their 12% share of the US population.

      Yet the arrest rates show that when searching for the perpetrator of a violent crime, the police should statistically be more successful if they seek (a) the same race as the victim and (b) white perpetrators slightly harder than black perpetrators. Is that what you see happening? Do you think that’s the message that the police are operating on?

      The real reason they don’t talk about white on white crime or even black on black crime [snip]

      Sorry, but the culture warriors can’t shut up about black on black crime, and often use it to justify seeking black perpetrators first for every crime, even (especially?) when the victim is not black. I don’t see that approach being justified by the rates for black on black violence compared to white on white violence, yet that is what is often seen to occur, and what the culture warriors urge should be happening even more than it is.

  8. tigtog @ 9 – well to take one example from the article you linked to:

    The term “black on black” crime is a destructive, racialized colloquialism that perpetuates an idea that blacks are somehow more prone to violence. This is untrue and fully verifiable by FBI, DOJ and census (pdf) data. Yet the fallacy is so fixed that even African Americans have come to believe it.

    So take the “more prone” part. The author asserts this wrong because the data they link to shows that in absolute numbers whites are arrested in much higher numbers than blacks for violent crimes. But I would argue that to make a comparison that one group is more or less prone than another group of doing something you should at the very least be looking at per capita rates, not absolute numbers.
    I actually agree with the broad theme of the article, but I think his use of statistics is pretty poor and doesn’t actually support the argument he’s making.

  9. @chris, apologies for not responding earlier on this – life has been a bit frenzied.
    I grant that the article could have been written more clearly to avoid the flaws that you have pointed out.
    The broader theme, though, is the point that I wanted to highlight: that most USA crime perpetrators will be more likely to be white than black, and that those perpetrators commit mostly white on white violence.

  10. Here’s some interesting statistics to address why blacks are disproportionately more likely to be convicted although they may not commit more crime:
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/crommunist/2012/04/26/here-come-da-judge
    (the all-white jury stats are quite disturbing.)

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