Pick the points that support your ideology and ignore the rest, as is done by the left/right media and most Americans.
Below are points about the African-American experience, especially the experience with shootings by cops.
In totality, the points show that this issue, like most issues, is complex, nuanced and not black-and-white.
But if confirmation bias is your game, you can pick the points that match your preconceived beliefs and ignore the rest, based on your political party, ideology, worldview, and even skin color.
– The War on Drugs and get-tough-on-crime legislation, which have disproportionally affected blacks, were vigorously supported by both Democrats and Republicans and their respective media.
– To that point, black congressman Charles Rangel of New York was featured in Ebony magazine in March of 1989 as the “Front-Line General in the War on Drugs.”
– Earlier, in 1970, the New York Times took a page from President Nixon in railing against crime, running a sensational story and a photo of a woman walking in the dark in Washington, D.C., with the caption saying, “You must be out of your mind to be out alone after dark in a neighborhood like this.”
– In the intervening years, the number of guns in private hands has increased dramatically, along with their ammo capacity and firepower. With close to 400 million civilian firearms in the U.S., it’s inevitable that many of them end up stolen and in the hands of bad guys.
– Although blacks between the ages of 15 to 34 make up just 2% of the nation’s population, they accounted for 37% of homicides in 2019. That’s 20 times higher than white males of the same age group.
– Kids as young as 13 are now shooting each other over being disrespected or wearing the wrong gang color in the wrong neighborhood.
– The proliferation of guns has made cops fearful of being shot in making traffic stops, serving warrants, and other interactions with the public, especially with blacks.
– An arms race has been the result, as evidenced by the growth in SWAT teams in armored vehicles making drug raids and forced entries. As an example of the growth, the Minneapolis police department conducted 36 SWAT raids in 1987. Nine years later, they conducted over 700.
– At the same time, law-abiding blacks feel as if they are being profiled by the police, which conjures up the ugly history of the mistreatment of blacks by the justice system and law enforcement during slavery, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights movement.
– In 2020, the police fatally shot 18 allegedly “unarmed” blacks. (Suspects who grab an officer’s gun or flee in a car with a loaded pistol on the seat are considered unarmed for reporting purposes if they don’t start out with a gun on their person.) This represents 0.2 percent of all blacks who died of homicide in 2020.
– There are twice as many police shootings of whites as there are of blacks, but there are more than four times as many whites than blacks in the U.S. population.
– One of the most tragic shootings of a white was when an Asian cop—in Minneapolis of all places—shot an Australian woman several years ago. She had called the cops about a suspicious person outside her house in the dark, and when the cops pulled up in the alley behind her house, she approached the cop car, only to be shot by the Asian cop, who reached across his partner who was driving and shot through the driver-side window.
– The above was conveniently forgotten in the media coverage of the George Floyd shooting and other shootings of blacks by cops. Likewise, there are very few videos in the news of whites dying at the hands of cops, including those who were asphyxiated.
– Speaking of asphyxiation, the popular TV show “Live PD” was taken off the air after the George Floyd killing. The show featured footage from police body cams and car cams, as well as from videos shot by the show’s camera crews. The host was a white TV personality, a cohost was a white cop from Tulsa, and the other cohost was a black former cop from D.C. There were often videos of cops with their knees on the necks of black and white suspects, with the suspects saying they couldn’t breathe. With a smile, the two cohosts would interject that suspects tend to say that, but it’s nonsense, the cohosts would go on to state emphatically because if the suspects couldn’t breathe, they wouldn’t be able to talk.
– Over the last 365 days, 585 blacks were killed in Chicago, with just about all of them killed by other blacks. Last year, there were seven fatal shootings by Chicago cops, all of which were deemed justifiable, due to the suspects resisting arrest or firing at cops.
– In South Chicago (where this writer saw crime up close and personal as an officer at an Army Reserve unit at 71st Street and Jeffries) 77% of black kids grow up in single-parent families, typically headed by a mother or grandmother. That’s slightly higher than the national average for blacks, and more than twice as high as the percentage of single-parent black families at the advent of Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty in the late 1960s.
– The foregoing statistic is relevant to the issue at hand because boys growing up without a dad in the house is a key causal factor in crime, disciplinary problems, and academic difficulties. Many on the left downplay this fact, just as many on the right downplay how blacks are still negatively affected by the legacies of slavery, Jim Crow, redlining, and employment discrimination.
– Many “whites” in American history have also been victims of discrimination and police brutality, albeit to a much lesser extent than blacks. Contrary to today’s asinine stereotype, all whites don’t come from privilege.
On the last point, and in closing, this grandson of Italian immigrants will take editorial license and comment on the Italian experience, at the risk of coming across as not being objective on the subject.
The Italian experience included being lynched in the South and sometimes being restricted to attending black schools. The paragon of racial enlightenment, the New York Times, editorialized in the late 1920s that it was “perhaps hopeless to think of civilizing [Italians] or keeping them in order, except by the arm of the law.”
Back then, the arrest, trial, and execution of Sacco and Vanzetti were as big of a news story as today’s news coverage of the murder of George Floyd, but with the two Italians being presumed guilty by most Americans and media, who sided with law enforcement against the two dagos.
It’s progress that Americans and the media no longer automatically side with law enforcement, but their narratives are still influenced by ideology, partisanship, and skin color.