Is black on black crime a myth, as asserted by Edward Wyckoff Williams of MSNBC? Or it a crisis, as asserted by Annette John-Hall of the Philadelphia Inquirer?
The Crisis Argument
Annette John-Hall begins her article with a description of the "collective sigh of relief" when George Zimmerman was arrested. She believes that this case should lead us to an honest discussion about the "epidemic of young black males dying in cities all over the country by gun violence." Ms. John-Hall brings up the point that if the KKK (she called them the "other guys in hoodies") killed 230 black men, the number of black men killed in Philadelphia alone last year, the "city would be on lockdown."
Why is this epidemic ignored? Ms. John-Hall believes that white people really do not care, because it is not affecting them and black people try to avoid just becoming victims themselves. Additionally, The author asserts that nobody cares enough to hold rallies, sign petitions, etc., to bring this issue into the forefront.
Ultimately, although some are focused on the issue, such as Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu who are actively working reducing the violence, and groups like Philadelphia CeaseFire, "a community program that enlists ex-offenders to reach out to youth" with dedicated staffers, such as Marla Davis Bellamy, who "canvasses neighborhoods and talks to troubled young people in an attempt to unlayer the reasons their dreams died."
The Myth Argument
In the arrogantly titled Highbrow Magazine, Edward Wyckoff Williams attempts to portray black-on-black crime as a myth. He believes that conservatives are using the "myth" of black-on-black crime to "deflect from the racism and racial profiling that precipitated his [Trayvon Martin] untimely death by referencing the broader social malaise of supposed "black-on-black violence." Williams supports his claims by referencing a recent comment made by George Will of the Washington Post, which was despite the Trayvon Martin tragedy, "150 black men are killed every week in this country," and "about 94 percent of them by other black men." Williams targeted Bill O'Reilly, who defended Wall Street Journal contributor Shelby Steele, who wrote in "The Exploitation of Trayvon Martin" that "black teenagers are afraid of other black teenagers, not whites."
Williams further asserts that white people are actually the ones committing most of the crimes, yet there is no call to end "white on white" violence. Williams states "The term 'black on black' crime is a destructive, racialized colloquialism that perpetuates an idea that blacks are somehow more prone to violence."
Williams sums up his argument with the following statement, "The myth of black-on-black violence has become a stain on the sociopolitical consciousness and indelibly imbues mindsets as well as public policy. At the heart of an increasingly violent society is not a subculture among blacks but the violence and criminality of many Americans, and whites in particular."
Which Argument Prevails?
Ms. John-Hall's article is compelling. Just reading the number 230 as a number of dead black men in one city over the course of one year is jarring. When the author states the reaction would be different if the perpetrator was the KKK, she makes a fair point. Ms. John-Hall should be commended by shining a light to it, 230 black men have died in Philadelphia, but it is not something touted in the media as a crisis, it is barely reported, if at all! Ms. John-Hall does not believe white people care. Perhaps some don't care, but many others don't know how to help and would not want to be perceived as a racist for bringing up the topic at all. It is fascinating how political correctness has frozen Americans in fear of anything related to the black/white issue. People need to care about one another and race should have nothing to do with it. Fortunately, as the author points out, some in prominent positions are starting to recognize that the epidemic, such as Mayor Nutter, and they will hopefully inspire others to help.
Mr. Williams's article basically just blames conservatives and gives statistics that are not proportionate to the population. Yes, there are more violent crimes committed by whites, but there are many more whites! So the question should be about percentages of the population. The argument that white people are deflecting the REAL issue of the Trayvon Martin case is ridiculous.
FBI Data from 2009 shows that cross-racial crime is rare not representative of the typical crime.
Perhaps most Americans DO seek justice for all victims, despite color, it is just not how they are portrayed in the polarizing mainstream media.
*FBI Photo credit: Legal Insurrection