We need to debunk the Widespread Bias myth.
According an NBC/Marist poll:
“The grand jury decisions not to indict police officers who killed unarmed men in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York have revealed a huge racial divide in how Americans perceive law enforcement in the United States.”
The poll goes on to detail numerous racial divisions regarding the trust Americans place in the police, their behaviors, and the legal system at large:
“While 52% of whites express a great deal of confidence in their local police not to discriminate, only 12% of African Americans share this view…more than eight in ten African Americans, 82%, believe police have different standards based on race while 51% of whites disagree…43% of Americans say the grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York have decreased their confidence in the legal system. 32% think it has made no difference in their opinion while 17% say it has increased their confidence in it. However, a wide racial divide exists. Twice the proportion of African Americans, 70%, compared with 35% of whites, report decreased trust in the legal system.”
Although 43% of Americans surveyed seem to hold that the decisions made by the grand juries not to indict officers Darren Wilson, and Daniel Pantaleo have led them to trust the legal system less, the percentage of blacks who hold that view is vastly greater than that of whites. The same goes for the notion that police treat different races with equity. The majority of whites believe that the police abide by equal standards when dealing with different races, while more than eight out of ten blacks do not.
There are those who are using the grand jury decisions as examples to highlight the ways in which police officers treat various races differently, but there are several factors being left out of the equation. These factors are of extraordinary importance if we are to understand the disparity between whites, and blacks regarding trust in the legal system, and police force.
If one were to look at the case in Ferguson, and the case in New York superficially, one could easily come to the conclusion that they are quintessential examples of racial inequity, ones which would lead 70% of blacks to report decreased trust in the legal system, however, there are outside factors at play.
There is no evidence to suggest that the Michael Brown shooting was racially motivated, and the forensic evidence, and eye-witness testimony support officer Wilson’s account that Brown was indeed the aggressor. Additionally, no evidence points to racism being a factor in the Eric Garner case either. As I noted yesterday, there was clearly no criminal intent, or negligence on the part of officer Pantaleo that would have lead a grand jury to indict. There were extenuating circumstances that played a large role in the death of Eric Garner. Yet the distrust in the police force, and legal system has increased in the black community following these cases. However, to get a full picture, we must first ask what else could cause blacks to trust law enforcement less than whites?
Many people believe that the legal system is rigged, placing blacks at a disadvantage. According to FBI arrest records for 2012, though blacks represent only 13% of the population of the United States, they commit a disproportionate amount of crimes. In 2012, 44,000 blacks were arrested for robbery, as opposed to only 34,000 whites. Additionally, 4,203 blacks were arrested for murder, and non-negligent manslaughter in 2012, as opposed to 4,101 whites. Though they are a small fraction of the American population, the statistics show that blacks commit a disproportionate percentage of crime.
According to Jason L. Riley of The Washington Times:
“…any candid debate on race and criminality in the United States must begin with the fact that blacks are responsible for an astoundingly disproportionate number of crimes, which has been the case for at least the past half a century…Today blacks are about 13 percent of the population and continue to be responsible for an inordinate amount of crime. Between 1976 and 2005 blacks committed more than half of all murders in the United States. The black arrest rate for most offenses — including robbery, aggravated assault and property crimes — is still typically two to three times their representation in the population. Blacks as a group are also overrepresented among persons arrested for so-called white-collar crimes such as counterfeiting, fraud and embezzlement. And blaming this decades-long, well-documented trend on racist cops, prosecutors, judges, sentencing guidelines and drug laws doesn’t cut it as a plausible explanation.”
In their study Crime & Human Nature, James Q. Wilson, and Richard Herrnstein write: “Even allowing for the existence of discrimination in the criminal justice system, the higher rates of crime among black Americans cannot be denied…Though prosecutors and judges may well make discriminatory judgments, such decisions do not account for more than a small fraction of the overrepresentation of blacks in prison.”
According to a Justice Department study from 2005, cited by Juan Williams for The Wall Street Journal, though blacks represent only 13% of the population of the United States, they are the victims of nearly 49% of all murders. However, 93% of those murders are committed by other blacks.
It is not a rigged system which has lead to a disproportionate number of blacks arrested, and in prison, but rather the fact that despite their percentage of the population at large, they commit a disproportionate amount of crime. But why is that? Why do blacks commit more crime than whites in proportion to their population representation? It has to do with culture.
Many black people–specifically young black men–in the United States have become engrossed in “thug culture,” a social construct that places on pedestals anti-authority aggressiveness, drug use, violence, misogyny, gang-relations, and general criminal behavior. According to black author, and commentator Erik Rush:
“Thug culture in particular holds to belligerence, misogyny and rebellion against any accepted norms and authority…As a result of media manipulation, abysmal role modeling and a dab of greed, young blacks now see people who ought to be in penitentiaries succeeding materially; thus it becomes acceptable to be an amoral swine, because one’s chances are just as good – or better – of realizing the same success as those who have cultivated decent character and worked hard at something other than pimping and selling drugs.”
This representation of black culture is everywhere you look. From TV to movies, video games to rap, and hip hop music, young, black men are taught that criminality is cool, that aggression against authority is the only way to succeed. The acceptance and saturation of criminality in young, black culture has lead to the disproportionate crime rate we see represented in the FBI statistics. When all young, black men see is thuggery, and anti-authority aggression, what do we expect? Teaching criminality leads to criminality.
Additionally, the breakdown of the black family hasn’t helped. As it stands, approximately 70% of black children are born to single mothers, as opposed to 28% of white children. Place next to each other the lack of strong, male role models, and the media’s relentless promotion of the thug lifestyle, and one can see why blacks commit a disproportionately large number of crimes. Without guidance from strong, moral fathers–or father figures–young black men turn to the only lifestyle they know which would offer them some sort of social stature, and material success. This thug life, however, leads these young, black men down a dangerous path.
An article from Beyond Black & White sums it up perfectly:
“It’s time to stop acting like the culture is harmless and doesn’t imply anything about the mental state of the people who listen to it. There is something wrong with Black people who like to use the n-word and listen to it in their music. There is something wrong with women who listen to music that is misogynist and made by ex-pimps (e.g., Ice T), child abusers (e.g., R. Kelly), former drug dealers (Jay Z), and gang members (Snoop Dog) and men who at one point made the streets unsafe. There is something wrong with people complaining about the Prison Industrial Complex yet dressing and acting like they are a part of it.”
The combination of thug culture, and the sadly high percentage of single mother households is directly related to the disproportionate crime rates among black men—and anyone who would suggest otherwise is being intellectually dishonest.
Given all of this, given the statistics showing that blacks commit a staggeringly disproportionate amount of crime in relation or their population, and given that a degrading, and amoral thug culture has been superimposed over black youth, one can understand why our prisons are filled with young, black men. The police force, and the legal system are not stacked against the black community, the black community gets the most attention because they commit more crimes per their population.
I am not arguing that there is never racial bias in the legal system, nor am I arguing that every police officer treats every race with equity—we know that’s not the case. Anyone who reads this and comes to that conclusion is either a moron, or deliberately dishonest. What I am arguing–and what is backed up by statistics, and common sense—is that the main reason there is more focus placed on blacks by the police is because blacks commit a disproportionate percentage of crime. Contrary to what some might argue, that is not a slight against their race, it is a slight against a broken social structure, and a culture which teaches thuggery, and anti-authority violence.
The exonerations of Darren Wilson, and Daniel Pantaleo aren’t indicative of a widespread racial bias in the legal system, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, whether it be polls, or pundits.