#Ferguson: Why Black People Are Angry and Why White People Don’t Understand
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I am an engineer so I am very interested in the way numbers work in telling stories…
So when the Ferguson non-indictment verdict broke out this week and I saw how the entire nation of America divided OJ Simpson style. I decided to look at the numbers so I could try and answer the question…this question:
“Why are most black people angry and why is it that most white people don’t understand?”
Now, the most popular argument to dismiss black anger is that black on black crime is alarmingly high thus the police heavy handedness is justified. An argument so popular that former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani used it about
a week ago 2-3 days ago to justify the high rate of police shootings on blacks. In a nutshell (according to Giuliani) the police are there to stop black people from killing themselves.
So let’s look at the homicide numbers … according to a 2010 Bureau of Justice Statistics report 93 percent of black victims were killed by black offenders, this stat seems to buttress Giuliani’s point as well the general perception that Black on Black crime is overwhelmingly high thus validating the increased cases of Mike-Brown type killings.
But what that stat fails to show is that in the very same report, 84 percent of white victims were killed by white offenders … but yet you don’t ever hear about that last stat in the news media or how white people are killing white people. Instead the focus is on the Black-on-Black part…but before the Black community gets excited, there is a counter argument…
The counter argument is this…according to that same Bureau of Justice Statistics report the rate of black homicide offenders was high when compared to the general population, in other words homicides in America were perpetrated disproportionately more by Blacks when compared to other races. The report states that the black offending rate of 34.4 per 100,000 was almost eight times higher than whites which was 4.5 per 100,000! That is a stat that we in the black community cannot ignore.
Now I am not saying that factors such as a biased legal system should be ignored … but even if you corrected for those factors and even cut down that number by half … black homicide offenders will still be 4 times higher than the offending rates for whites! This is too high and we the black community have a primary responsibility to lower this number.
But yet Blacks are still angry … even those that understand and agree with the stat above…why is this?
Now in a strictly logical system devoid of emotional reasoning and based on the stat above, police should mathematically be allowed to shoot/target Blacks at 8 times the rates of Whites … again this is strictly mathematically speaking. But the problems and this is why Black people are angry is that according to a ProPublica analysis of federal data from 2010 to 2012 it was found that young black males were 21 times more likely to be killed by police than their white counterparts!
Article excerpt: The 1,217 deadly police shootings from 2010 to 2012 captured in the federal data show that blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police.
Meaning (technically) if a cop saw a black teen and white teen walking down the road, the black teen is 21 times more likely to be targeted/shot by the police officer!
Young black males were 21 times more likely to be killed by police than their white counterparts. – ProPublica
21 times! Not 4 times, not even 8 times. 21 times more likely to be killed by the police!
This LARGE factor is what makes black people upset, because when the police targets blacks at such a high rate, there is a tendency to see a thug in every black person no matter how young…that is a fact that black people no matter their age, their criminal record, their economic status, their innocence … have to deal with everyday in America. This is the source of most black anger.
But one other fact is this…
When I am sitting at the local Starbucks cafe down the road from my house and a police officer enters the room, I don’t feel comfortable…
Ironically, I have never committed a crime in my life, I have only been pulled over once in my life, but yet inexplicably I feel like I am one-wrong-move away from getting shot or discriminated against. That is a fact and reality for me. But the other fact which is often hidden is that when I sit in that same Starbucks and I see a black teen with sagging jeans and an over-sized t-shirt walk in, I feel uncomfortable for a split second before I relax…but that split second is often the amount of time police officers have to make a LIFE or DEATH decision.
I have no idea when those feelings of discomfort will leave, but I do know now that the solution lies not just in the numbers but in the negative imagery. And it will take a concerted effort from the Black community and Police force in changing that image and eventually and hopefully changing the stats. #RIPMikeBrown
Picture credit: Freelance photographer Johnny Nguyen
Written By Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
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