In America Racial Prejudice Is Real. But It Is Largely Based On The Hard Facts of Black Criminality Whites fear Blacks, very often for no reason. Yet, they base their racial prejudice on what they know about Blacks and crime

By Paolo von Schirach

July 26, 2013

WASHINGTON – America’ self-appointed “civil rights leaders” point out that young Trayvon Martin was followed and then killed by George Zimmerman only because he was a Black teen-ager. In other words, he became “a suspect“, not because of his behavior, but just because of his race. And this very fact, argue the leaders, provides damning evidence of enduring racism in America. Blacks do not have a chance in this racist country, because there is an unwarranted assumption that they are all dangerous criminals.

Unwarranted racial bias?

Of course, there is some truth in this. Whatever may have occurred in that tragic Zimmerman-Martin encounter, it is true that many Whites are afraid of Blacks, many times for no reason other than the fact that they (automatically?)associate criminal intent with the person’s race. Still, while all blanket generalizations based on race or color are wrong, is White fear of Blacks totally unwarranted?

If we could have an honest debate, then we should acknowledge that many Whites fear Blacks because Blacks commit far too many crimes. And this has been the case for decades. Sure enough, one can argue that criminal behavior in some instances is the result of ignorance, poverty, lack of education and so on. Still, the average White person, having a general idea that far too many Blacks do indeed engage in criminal behavior, (whatever the reasons), may have grounds to fear that the next Black person he encounters may be dangerous. 

Unfair assumptions

Any such blanket assumption is of course terribly unfair to a very large number of perfectly normal, law-abiding Black citizens. However, it is also unfair to conclude that such fears about Blacks are motivated only by racial bias. No, they are motivated by tons of crime statistics. When people know that Blacks commit many more crimes than other racial groups, then it is easy to jump to (unfair) conclusions, and assume that the next Black person I meet may also be a dangerous person.

Justice system discrimination

The same civil rights leaders argue that the extremely large number of Blacks prosecuted and then incarcerated is itself the outcome of racial bias. In other words, too many Blacks are in jail because there is extra zeal in pursuing Black offenders, as opposed to White offenders, precisely because they are Black. Therefore, the notion that a disproportionate number of Blacks engage in criminal behavior is a misperception due to horribly biased, selective law enforcement. If the criminal justice system were truly impartial and color blind, the skewed Black crime statistics would disappear. 

This is an interesting theory; but I am not aware of any hard empirical evidence supporting it. Sociologists of all stripes routinely review and study US crime statistic, related data and trends all the time. The US justice system has plenty of anti-discriminatory laws on the books. There are plenty of organizations that would work pro-bono to sue law enforcement authorities in any instance of possible race-based discrimination. Are Black civil rights leaders saying that the clear evidence of ongoing criminal justice system discrimination is not taken into account because it is routinely suppressed?

Black crime is at the root of all this

So, here we are. Yes, there is White prejudice about the presumed criminal intent of Black people, no doubt about it. And most certainly in many cases, (possibly even in the Trayvon Martin case), it leads to White people jumping to the wrong conclusions regarding the intentions of Blacks. But it is also true that in most cases this bias is not based on racism. This bias is based on hard facts of crimes committed by Blacks.

If  Black civil rights leaders were really honest about all this, they would tell their communities that there is a real problem within them. Sure, some criminal behavior may be due to poverty, ignorance, hopelessness and marginalization; but not most of it. 

The consequences of the teen pregnancy explosion

Many studies point out that children of young, uneducated and often poor single mothers are much more likely to grow up in poverty and then engage in criminal behavior as young adults. Well, while teen pregnancy is a growing phenomenon nation wide, an astounding 73% of Black kids are children of single mothers, most of them uneducated and poor. Is the high incidence of teen pregnancy within Black communities, itself the precursor of a higher crime rate, the result of racism?

One comment to “In America Racial Prejudice Is Real. But It Is Largely Based On The Hard Facts of Black Criminality Whites fear Blacks, very often for no reason. Yet, they base their racial prejudice on what they know about Blacks and crime
  1. “Sure, some criminal behavior may be due to poverty, ignorance, hopelessness and marginalization; but not most of it.”

    I would actually argue that this is indeed the cause of most crime in the Black population. If you consider the position that Blacks have had throughout American history, how can you expect anything else? Even after the abolition of slavery, Blacks typically had very few means to earn money, only had access to the most menial and physical jobs with extremely low pay. Their neighborhoods and schools were segregated and below the quality of what could be found in White areas. This was not happening 200 years ago, that was 50 years ago. With such a marked disadvantage in terms of financial means, education, neighborhoods, is it that surprising that a large portion of the Black American population is in chaos? I am a European Black and my parents themselves grew up in Africa. They received strong education throughout their lives. They were relatively privileged, but not rare cases. They had something to start with. But American Blacks came from slavery, so literally from nothing and have had very limited opportunities throughout the years to build themselves up. How could they when you think about the jobs they were offered, the pay they were given, the dilapidated schools and neighborhoods in which they were placed? All of this without mentioning the contempt and rejection they constantly felt, and to some extent still feel, from White society. Can we expect the majority of these people to develop anything but distrust for a system that has failed them so severely?

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