Black-on-Black Crime Debate Shifts Focus From Pervasive Race-Based Violence

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041712-national-hate-crimeA familiar obsession of conservatives, and even many liberals, is the phenomenon of Black-on-Black crime, but a piece on Vox.com this week amusingly turns the issue on its head by focusing on the prevalence of white-on-white crime.

“The disturbing truth, according to the FBI’s most recent homicide statistics, is that the United States is in the wake of an epidemic of white-on-white crime,” Matthew Yglesias wrote yesterday on Vox.com.

African-Americans have grown accustomed to hearing the focus of commentators shift to the subject of Black-on-Black crime whenever the ire of the Black community rises over yet another African-American being gunned down by a white cop or white vigilante like George Zimmerman or Theodore Wafer.

As the commentators’ erroneous thinking seems to go, why are Black folk so upset about this when they don’t seem to care about Black people killing each other?

Indeed, a piece Joe Klein in Time magazine seems to be what inspired Yglesias, as Klein wrote: “Blacks represent 13 percent of the population but commit 50 percent of the murders; 90 percent of Black victims are murdered by other Blacks. The facts suggest that history is not enough to explain this social disaster.”

In response, Yglesias informs us that “back in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, a staggering 83 percent of white murder victims were killed by fellow Caucasians.”

“This is not to say that white people are inherently prone to violence. Most whites, obviously, manage to get through life without murdering anyone,” Yglesias explains. “And there are many countries full of white people — Norway, Iceland, France, Denmark, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom — where white people murder each other at a much lower rate than you see here in the United States. On the other hand, although people often see criminal behavior as a symptom of poverty, the quantity of murder committed by white people specifically in the United States casts some doubt on this. Per capita GDP is considerably higher here than in France — and the white population in America is considerably richer than the national average — and yet we have more white murderers.”

His humorous take is intended to show white commentators how ridiculous they sound by responding to an outrageous white-on-Black race-based crime by attempting to shift the focus elsewhere.

“To understand the level of cultural pathology at work here, it’s important to understand that 36 percent of those killed by whites are women — a far higher share than you see with Black murderers,” Yglesias writes. “Clearly, the social disaster of white violence has complicated roots. But the beginning of an answer is to admit that we have a problem. It’s striking that President Obama, who’s frequently found time to comment on the height of Black men’s waistlines, seems oblivious to this torrent of white killing. To be fair to the White House, however, it would be uniquely difficult for Obama to address this delicate issue. The real tragedy is that none of Obama’s 43 white predecessors have addressed it either.”

Yglesias ends his piece by looking ahead to the next presidential election and wondering if the issue will be aired over the next two years.

“As we look ahead to a 2016 matchup that should give us two Euro-American major party nominees for the first time in a decade, perhaps America can finally get the debate about white violence it deserves,” he writes.

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