When discussing the killings of blacks by cops, sometimes the subject of black-on-black murder comes up. In my experience, this is shot down as a “distraction”.

Let’s look at the numbers and see what a “distraction” it really is. And there’s another statistic that doesn’t come up in these discussions that puts all of these other issues to shame.

Mentioned links:

About the Black Lives Matter Network

The Myth of the Black-on-Black Crime Epidemic

Murder: Race and Sex of Victim by Race and Sex of Offender, 2011

Justifiable Homicide: by Weapon, Law Enforcement, 2007–2011

List of killings by law enforcement officers in the United States, 2011 [Wikipedia]

Reported Legal Abortions by Race of Woman Who Obtained Abortion by the State of Occurrence

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Show transcript

In discussing some of the examples of police who have killed unarmed black people, the idea has been expressed to me that bringing up black-on-black crime in this context is beside the point, and a “distraction”. I’m almost dismissed out of hand, and considered racist by some, if I mention this. Sometimes I’m asked, “Well, what about white-on-white crime?” So I decided to put this episode together so that I, and perhaps some of you, can point to this as an explanation, rather than write it all out again.

So, let’s look at it this way. Let’s say I get all over the pressing issue of the use of eminent domain to take property away from people in Little Rock, Arkansas. I get on this issue and organize protests around the country about developers in Little Rock getting free reign to take property away from people with the help of the Little Rock city council.

Not a bad cause. It’s a real concern. But there are so many other places that have this issue, and organizing protests ought to bring awareness to the larger context, and not just Little Rock. While my nationwide group is busy focusing on Little Rock, thousands of other people are being victimized. Sure, that’s a problem, too, but … but Little Rock!!! Why are you diverting attention away from Little Rock, and those evil developers there??? It’s a distraction, I tell ya’!

Don’t tell me that putting more effort towards New Orleans would get a better bang for the buck just because there are more developers there taking way more property away. That’s a distraction! Don’t tell me that the Little Rock issue is a small minority of the problem. Do you not care about the folks there? It’s an epidemic in Little Rock.

And hey, if you want me to talk about eminent domain abuses nationwide, why don’t you talk about environmental issues caused by overdevelopment by those same developers? I don’t hear you saying anything about that. Don’t criticize me over protesting about Little Rock issues.

OK, so let’s step away from the hypothetical. Black Lives Matter is focused on black deaths by the state; the government. In fact, on their website, they say that violence by the state (that is to say, cops) is “genocide”.

You’ll see that word use quite a bit in protests; the killing of blacks by cops is “genocide”. And so the reason that black-on-black crime is brought up is because, if killings of black people by cops are genocide, what is black-on-black crime, which is possibly 10 times worse?

Ah, that’s a distraction!

So the issue is not “well what about all the other murders, what about white-on-white crime?” Whites are not organizing protests about the killing of whites by cops or other races. And bringing up black-on-black crime is in no way suggesting that that this is somehow a uniquely black problem; it most certainly isn’t.

However, Black Lives Matter has chosen to take to the streets over cops shooting people of color. Fair enough, and it’s a righteous cause. And perhaps “Black Lives Matter” rolls off the tongue better than “Black Lives That Were Killed by Cops Matter”, but the name suggests that they’re saying black lives in general matter. And I am fully on board with the idea that countering with “all lives matter” is not helpful, and doesn’t speak to the issues BLM is focusing on. In addition, there are definitely racial overtones, such that the blame for some of these deaths is put on racism by white cops.

Given that, if you are going to go out and charge one group of people (cops, and typically white cops) with race-based genocide of blacks, it is not a distraction to be asked why a larger cause of black deaths is not on the agenda. If the first is “genocide”, surely the second one is.

Which is to say (again), if black lives matter (and they do), why don’t all black lives matter? If you are going to make a concerted effort to protest, why are you focusing on Little Rock exclusively?

Speaking for myself, bringing up black-on-black crime is an agreement that black lives matter; those killed because of racism, or any other cause. Shoving blacks into ghettos gave whites an excuse to ignore whatever social ills were caused by doing that. We can’t ignore that anymore, but that means none of us can ignore that anymore; white or black.

Racism kills, but the vast majority of these black deaths is not due to racism. Those are the causes that need to be brought in, in addition to racism. If killings due to racist cops, or cops in general, were to end tomorrow, there would still be a huge problem regarding the deaths of blacks. I’m just saying let’s not wait for the former to be solved before dealing with the latter. That’s not a distraction.

If you do a Google search for “black on black crime”, you’ll find people calling it a myth or a lie. There’s got to be a better word to use, because it most certainly exists. The FBI statistics for 2011 show that in that year, there were 2,447 black-in-black murders. This is down considerably from 1991, when there were 7,361. This is great news! So does this mean that the black community is dealing with that issue? Yes, that’s very likely contributing to the decline. But you have to understand it in context. The crime rate has been trending downwards since at least 1973, more than 40 years ago, for victims of both races. Still, this is really good news.

So what about white-on-white crime? That same year, 2011, there were 2,630 white-on-white murders. But think about it; that means that blacks, while making up about 12% of the US population, had almost the same number of same-race murders as whites, 93%. Black-on-black killing does exist, and far out of proportion to black representation in the population. That’s not a distraction.

So let’s get back to the comparison; how many blacks were killed by cops in 2011? Well, the numbers that the FBI has for killings by law enforcement put the total number at about 400; nationwide, for all races. If every one of these people were black, then the black-on-black murder numbers are 6 times worse than killings by cops. If half of them were black, then the black-on-black numbers are what I suggested earlier; over 10 times worse.

That is not a distraction. Black lives matter. All black lives matter. And I think I can justifiably say about black-on-black crime what is usually said about racism; it is certainly a lot better than it used to be, but we still have a long way to go.

We need a new hashtag: #AllBlackLivesMatter. The 200 matter, and the 2,000 matter. If you want to do the most good in saving black lives, I would just suggest that you may want to put more energy where you will get the most benefit.

And speaking of the most benefit, here’s one more statistic to blow your mind.  Of those states that report the race of women getting an abortion, about 130,000 black babies were killed in abortion clinics in 2012. There are 20 states that don’t report race, so that number could be around 200,000. So consider this; if you add the 200 blacks killed by cops in a year to the 2,000 killed by other blacks in a year, you get … a slow week at Planned Parenthood.

Filed under: AbortionRace Issues