Over the last couple of years, one of the dinner discussions our family has had relates to the observation that many, if not most, of the alleged perpetrators of violent crimes whose photographs appear in the mugshot section of our local newspaper's crime report are black. We live in a very white area of what used to be rural farms and ranches, but is now being quickly developed with multi-family housing and strip malls. A large metropolitan city is a short drive.
The kids and wife have asked me, "Why do you think it is, dad, that the murderers and robbers are usually black?" How is a dad supposed to answer this?
First, I wanted to look at more data than just the police report of our local paper. What I found is that blacks are 13% of the US population, 37.6% of the US prisoner population, and 71.5% of the shooters in Chicago.
White alone, percent, 2013 (a)
Black or African American alone, percent, 2013 (a)
American Indian and Alaska Native alone, percent, 2013 (a)
Asian alone, percent, 2013 (a)
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone, percent, 2013 (a)
Two or More Races, percent, 2013
Hispanic or Latino, percent, 2013 (b)
White alone, not Hispanic or Latino, percent, 2013
|Race||# of Inmates||% of Inmates|
|As of 6/19/15|
Next, I started to watch and read some popular news reports and articles on the internet about black violence. I challenge each reader to make it through just the following five:
Finally, I asked a black sheriff if the notion that most murderers and robbers are black fits with his observations and experience. He responded, "You gotta judge people individually."
I told him that I agree, and that I am not judging anyone. I asked him, again, "Does the notion that a majority of murders and robberies in your jurisdiction are committed by blacks fit with your observations and experience?" He paused, stared at me, and said, "Yes."
I asked him if he had an opinion as to why this might be the case, since blacks make up a small minority of the population. I told him that my wife and kids have been asking me these questions.
He said, "You need to watch yourself. You need to be real careful." Then the black sheriff's deputy put his hand on his sidearm, stared at me for a moment, turned around, and walked away.
So, this is where I find myself as an American trying to ask one hard question about race and violence in America.
Why do you think it is that the murderers and robbers are usually black? Is it the case where you live? How is a dad supposed to answer this question? Are your wife and kids even able to ask it? Are we as a nation even able to ask it?