The black radio host Charles Love points out that most of the media buried a mass school shooting in Texas because the shooter was black. But the victims were also black. Writing in Newsweek, he says this is part of a growing problem: ignoring black-on-black violence, out of political correctness, even though that harms black people.
“Many progressive prosecutors are reluctant to prosecute violent offenders, often under the guise of minimizing racial disparities in the criminal justice system. This in spite of the fact that the majority of the victims of these violent criminals are black,” he observes. “While the Left and its elected officials may think they are protecting black people [by ignoring black on black crime], what they are actually doing is deeming our deaths less important.”
Contrary to what the Left thinks, there is nothing compassionate or modern about minimizing black crime. That’s what the criminal-justice system did about black-on-black killings during the Jim Crow era of segregation. It often ignored or minimized them, because it didn’t care if black people died.
This vicious mindset was summarized by a Southern police chief, who infamously said: “If a nigger kills a white man, that’s murder. If a white man kills a nigger, that’s justifiable homicide. If a nigger kills a nigger, that’s one less nigger.” (See Popular Justice: A History of Lynching in America, pg. 116).
He said this in the 19th Century, but racist white classmates repeated this saying to me in the 1970s, laughing as they said it (claiming it was a “joke”).
Short sentences for violent crimes committed by blacks against blacks were the norm under Jim Crow, and reformers once sought to end that. A young black lawyer in Missouri, Theodore McMillian, successfully fought to end the evil local practice of letting blacks who kill other black people serve just a year in jail. He later became the first African American to serve on the Missouri Court of Appeals, and the first African American to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
Giving violent criminals lower sentences because they are black will harm black people most, because black criminals commit their crimes mostly against other black people. Crime is heavily black-on-black, and black victims of violence crimes mostly identify their assailant as black. As the Bureau of Justice Statistics explains, most crimes are committed mostly between members of the same racial group, and this is true for “rape or sexual assault,” “simple assault,” “aggravated assault,” and indeed, “all types of violent crime except robbery.” (See Race and Hispanic Origin of Victims and Offenders, 2012-2015.) Between 2010 and 2013, “92 percent of blacks who were murdered were killed by other blacks,” according to PolitiFact. According to FBI data, 89 percent of blacks who were murdered in 2018 were killed by black offenders.
As Charles Love recounts in Newsweek, biased journalism resulted in the
news coverage—or rather, lack thereof—of a school shooting in Arlington, Texas. Last Wednesday, news broke in the morning of a school shooting. A teenage boy fired several shots inside Timberview High School, injuring four people and fleeing the scene. You might have expected the news coverage to follow a familiar pattern after a school mass shooting, starting with the non-stop coverage of the events as they unfold…followed by a demand by every anti-gun politician who can get him or herself on the airwaves for more stringent gun control. Finally, the president himself would be asked to comment.
But this shooting did not follow the script. Fox News carried the coverage live, but by and large, the other 24-hour news channels did not, despite the active shooter being on the run and a manhunt underway for his capture.
Of course, I can’t know for sure why the news channels abdicated their usual hysterical, wall-to-wall coverage of mass shootings in this instance. But I can tell you what my immediate suspicion was at the absence of coverage: The shooter is going to turn out to be black. And indeed, when they apprehended him, the shooter was black….the only thing that the liberal media is more attached to than its opposition to guns is its support of woke identity politics. And this was simply the only thing that could have trumped the mass shooting narrative…this is how a mass shooting in a Texas school and the ensuing manhunt came to be erased: It was coded as black on black crime, which meant that the media couldn’t report on it, lest they contribute to something they abhor. Rather than report the news honestly, they ignored it.
In fact, crime overall is handled this way. While local news stations across the country report vicious crimes and shootings, often with innocent victims, there has been almost a taboo imposed by liberal national news media outlets on the murder surge, and this despite the historic numbers of murdered children….Amid growing gun violence in majority black neighborhoods, many progressive prosecutors are reluctant to prosecute violent offenders, often under the guise of minimizing racial disparities in the criminal justice system. This in spite of the fact that the majority of the victims of these violent criminals are black.
Recently, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and a group of city council members urged Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx to reconsider her office’s decision not to charge several men for a mid-morning shootout that took place in the Austin neighborhood. At 10:30 in the morning, a group of known gang members shot into the home of a rival gang who returned fire. More than 70 shell casing were found at the scene. Though the incident was caught on tape and witnessed by Chicago police officers, Foxx’s office claimed charges were dropped because the shootout involved “mutual combatants.”
While the Left and its elected officials may think they are protecting black people with actions like these, what they are actually doing is deeming our deaths less important. By not covering crimes perpetrated against us, you are betraying the victims of our community and implicitly condoning these crimes.
Progressives claim that racism in the criminal justice system is the cause of “mass incarceration” and the fact that blacks comprise a higher fraction of the prison population than the general population.
But racism isn’t the cause of these things. Back when society was much more racist, prisons were less heavily black. Because society didn’t do much to protect black people from black criminals by incarcerating them. Prisons were mostly white in the mid-20th Century, just before the Supreme Court declared segregation unconstitutional.
Even today, black murderers are less likely to be convicted and imprisoned than white murderers. Police clearance rates are already disturbingly low for murders committed against blacks. Chicago solves only 47 percent of cases when a murder victim is white, 33 percent when a victim is Hispanic, and a wretched 22 percent of cases when the victim is black, according to NPR.
To be sure, people incarcerated for murder are more heavily black than the general U.S. population. But that’s because people who commit murder are disproportionately black.
To the extent that racism persists in the criminal justice system, it could make black people less likely to cooperate with the police, less likely to report crimes against other people — and murders of black people by blacks could go unpunished as a result. That would mean fewer black offenders in jail, not more.
For non-homicide crimes, though, the victims themselves can call the police, and they do, at similar rates for blacks and whites. And police nowadays usually investigate these crimes in a racially fair way. A 2021 study by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics found that although blacks are arrested for serious nonfatal violent crimes at more than twice the rate of people in general, this is not due to racism. Instead, arrests are correctly “proportional” to the actual crime rate, and to the crimes actually reported to the police, which often are committed by black offenders. As it found, in 2018, “White and black people were arrested proportionate to their involvement in serious nonfatal violent crime overall and proportionate to their involvement in serious nonfatal violent crime reported to police.” (See Allen J. Beck, Race and Ethnicity of Violent Crime Offenders and Arrestees, 2018).
In short, violent crimes by black offenders are not being overreported; nor are they being underreported, at least as to nonfatal violent crimes.
Most of the people in state prison are there for violent crimes, not things like drugs. Only 4% of people in state prison are there for drug possession. And drug possession is often discovered only after an offender is arrested for something else. The lawyer and former federal court clerk Ted Frank says that “nobody gets arrested for marijuana possession. They get arrested for other things and have the marijuana charge tacked on after they’re searched.” So racial bias in the war on drugs is not the reason why blacks are overrepresented in prison. The higher black crime rate is the reason.
This doesn’t mean there’s no racism in the criminal justice system. Recent research shows statistically-measurable racial bias in police stops — the phenomenon of “Driving While Black,” which might explain as many as 10% of all police stops of black motorists. Prominent African-Americans such as Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) have been stopped repeatedly when a similarly-situated white person would not. I’ve been stopped in such circumstances, too. This may be a reason to pass legislation that restricts police from stopping motorists for trivial reasons. In some cases, it may also be a good reason to bring a class-action lawsuit for racial discrimination.