The subject of racism in America is a delicate one to say the least. It is beyond tragic that this is a part of our history, and, as a country, we have too often not lived up to the words enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and their codification into law in the Constitution. Handling the lingering effects of slavery and racism is an important part of helping our nation progress.
However, a statement like that won’t suffice for the “woke” crowd on social media. Unless someone like myself apologizes for racists acts that I never committed, I am “part of the problem.” In order for any sort of apology to be accepted, I must fully abase myself and bend the knee to the mob or, in their minds, I am complicit in all acts of racism committed for the entirety of history.
I get very nervous when people lump individuals into groups based on the color of their skin, or their religion, or their political preferences. If history has taught us anything—see Rwanda, the Russian Revolution, the French Revolution, and Nazi Germany for reference—it is that lumping people into one specific group based on these factors has dangerous and often deadly consequences.
That is my major concern with the debate over the state of racism in America right now. Once you divide a whole segment of the population against another for factors largely outside their control, violence will ensue eventually. The thing that is the most frustrating is that almost everybody agrees that what happened to George Floyd was a travesty. Those cops should never take one step outside of a penitentiary for the rest of their lives, and the overwhelming majority of people share that view.
If we are going to have a “conversation” on a topic this important, we have to start with a basic set of facts. Heather MacDonald wrote an excellent piece for the Wall Street Journal, stating the following:
“This charge of systemic police bias was wrong during the Obama years and remains so today. However sickening the video of Floyd’s arrest, it isn’t representative of the 375 million annual contacts that police officers have with civilians. A solid body of evidence finds no structural bias in the criminal justice system with regard to arrests, prosecution, or sentencing. Crime and suspect behavior, not race, determine most police actions.
In 2019 police officers fatally shot 1,004 people, most of whom were armed or otherwise dangerous. African-Americans were about a quarter of those killed by cops last year (235), a ratio that has remained stable since 2015. That share of black victims is less than what the black crime rate would predict, since police shootings are a function of how often officers encounter armed and violent suspects. In 2018, the latest year for which such data have been published, African-Americans made up 53% of known homicide offenders in the US and commit about 60% of robberies, though they are 13% of the population.
The police fatally shot nine unarmed blacks and 19 unarmed whites in 2019, according to a Washington Post database, down from 38 and 32, respectively, in 2015. The Post defines “unarmed” broadly to include such cases as a suspect in Newark, N.J., who had a loaded handgun in his car during a police chase. In 2018 there were 7,407 black homicide victims. Assuming a comparable number of victims last year, those nine unarmed black victims of police shootings represent 0.1% of all African-Americans killed in 2019. By contrast, a police officer is 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male is to be killed by a police officer…
The latest in a series of studies undercutting the claim of systemic police bias was published in August 2019 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers found that the more frequently officers encounter violent suspects from any given racial group, the greater the chance that a member of that group will be fatally shot by a police officer. There is ‘no significant evidence of anti-black disparity in the likelihood of being fatally shot by police,’ they concluded.
A 2015 Justice Department analysis of the Philadelphia Police Department found that white police officers were less likely than black or Hispanic officers to shoot unarmed black suspects. Research by Harvard economist Roland G. Fryer Jr. also found no evidence of racial discrimination in shootings. Any evidence to the contrary fails to take into account crime rates and civilian behavior before and during interactions with police.”
I know that is a lot of information that was just cited, but I think it is imperative that any conversation we have as a country be rooted in facts and data. Given the data, I reject the premise that there is systematic racism in the police forces of this country. I am not naïve enough to think that there are not bad cops like the ones in Minneapolis, but to indict every police precinct in America without evidence to back up the contention is irresponsible and will only further divide us.
There are anecdotal examples of racism, both from police and everyday citizens, and I have no reason to believe that the stories aren’t true. We know that, on an individual basis, racism can still be a problem. However, anecdotal evidence without statistics to back it up makes for a flawed argument. I am always willing to have a conversation, but I won’t be bullied into accepting a premise that is statistically not true.
So, rather than falling on bended knee and pleading for forgiveness as a group, let’s do our best to sit down together as individuals and work towards a solution.