#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…

MikeBrownSo 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

twitterWritten By Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
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Words by Okechukwu Ofili of ofilispeaks.com
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18 comments on “#Ferguson: Why Black People Are Angry and Why White People Don’t Understand

  1. Well said…. I couldn’t agree more… Now before start yarning rubbish, they should see both sides of the coin. Oboi you have tried jare- we need more of this kind of article.

  2. I think blacks should just work on the image given. I have never flown before..can count how many tyms iv bn to an airport..*is it up to 5?* bt i hear they search us like thieves. and then the black americans there too aren’t really helping matters. Now, am not saying that white, black, red, purple or green do not have their peculiarities. we should really ask what have we done to deserve this wary look from our fellow men even people of our own colour. what have we done to deserve this distrust. what period in history did we come short of everyone’s glory? *if i am to be dramatic. i thnk when we find out whatever the hell our problem is..then we can work on it. but eeh..if they just associate black with darkness and evil, then they can ALL go and hug transformers mehn..cos dt we cnt do nythn abt.

  3. The black battered image in America is the same as Nigeria’s image worldwide… Too many black/Nigerian crooks, very difficult to sieve out the good ones… BTW.. I be lasgidi boy before anyone thinks otherwise

  4. American African Human on said:

    The treatment of Blacks has very little if anything to do with behavior of the group or parts of it. Before, the group and it’s members were allowed to choose which behavior it wanted to display there was a disdain for us, or better put outright hatred. That hatred continues as it lives just under the surface in this society. Should Blacks thrive for better in all areas of our lives? Is there room for improvement in our communities? Yes and yes, but don’t be foolish to believe that a polished image means anything to a system that from its very beginnings hated you without a cause. We should be better for ourselves and our children, not to be recognized and/or treated as human beings. We look to earn respect from those who will never give it. I say respect ourselves and leave a legacy of dignity and integrity for our posterity. It will never come from the outside.

  5. princesaaa on said:

    It was after I read Americanah that I could really appreciate what degree and variance of racism that exists in America. Were they so demystified in my eyes? Yes they were.

    I feel for the American blacks and non American blacks that take residence there, the only practical thing is to hope that better conditions don’t stop improving as each year, decade and century roll by.

  6. Good writeup. But is crime predominantly black? Answer : Capital NO.But Satan must be painted in black colour. And black must connote evil- black sheep, black heart,black leg, black market, etc. Whites commit more crime than blacks (you will ask for proof).One, blacks constitute only about 5% of the overall American population, which really accounts for their high relative homicide rate. Which probably means when compared to their relative population size, their ratio might be less . With the rate at which whites hate blacks in that country, there is the high probability that much of the stat given is cooked up . After all, owing to the same racism factor, blacks are denied job opportunities. The guys churning out these stats are probably racist whites.We do not hear of Italian, Russian and the mass of East European criminals operating worldwide. It is so convenient to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it. Which is why there are so many blacks wasting away their lives in U.S.prisons.We all know why. Jim Crow is alive and well in America. KKK is alive and well in America . With the police being predominantly white and a legal system not meant to protect the black man, black man in America is an endangered specie.

    • Ofili

      I disagree with almost everything you said. The stats are legit, we cannot keep blaming another race for everything. We have take responsibility for something. In your write up above you take responsibility for nothing. and nothing can be solved with that attitude.

  7. chukwuemeka on said:

    You also said this; 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. –
    No, that’s not the meaning, technically or otherwise. Once again that’s wrong and its a very simplistic assumption. That would be an injustice if blacks and whites exhibited the same behaviour in general but they do not. I have already mentioned how that blacks are far more violent than whites in general and exhibit violent behaviour. Police do not “target and kill anyone”. Most times they shoot in response to a threat. Like Mike Brown, who apparently was stupid enough to go for an officer’s weapon. Hope you publish this alternate viewpoint. In addition, you didn’t mention that blacks were MANY TIMES to kill police officers. Or that black police officers ALSO KILL BLACK SUSPECTS at a very high rate. Or that the supposedly racist cops, for some reason don’t kill asian americans(who despite being a minority group with a history of oppression against them, are the wealthiest, most responsible group in america, even more wealthy than whites and achieve highly in almost all walks of life)

    • Ofili

      I don’t think you read the article properly. If you did you will see clearly where it is stated that the stats show that Blacks are committing homicides at a disproportionately higher rate….but hey to each his own. You clearly upset about something, can’t help you with that. I just stated facts that’s all, if you disagree with the stats present your counter stats with links so we can verify what you are talking about.

  8. Maybe clean shaven black men don’t get shot but they do get discriminated against by law enforcement officers. The main problem here is that you do not need to have dreadlocks, sag your pants or wear the standard white tee to be treated differently from a white person in this country.

    • Ofili

      Everybody gets discriminated against. I have experienced it, I believe the article was clear in stating that as the reason why Black people angry.

  9. Yesterday,I saw a well-dressed guy with ugly looking dreads looking and smiling at me as I passed. The first thing I thought was that he was a mad man who had stolen someone’s clothes. I was ready to defend myself if he had walked towards me.
    This article gets me thinking about that guy…what if he was not mad?..what if he walked to just pass by me and I attacked him without confirming?
    Lets ask for justice,yes…but lets stop putting people in that “wait to find out or attack before you get hurt” cirumstance.

  10. We all know that whites believes that blacks are encroaching on their territory, but It is very obvious that whites operates in a higher frequency than blacks in terms of mentality and behaviour. blacks have consumed themselves with inferiority complex which has made us to believe that we are inferior.
    Blacks are not been intimidated and abused because they are minorities but because we have refused to run after knowledge and civilisation.

    The truth is that even a monkey can be treated like a king if he has a solution to offer his community.

    My two cents.
    Read the most talked about article “Africa, the land of milk and excuses” on http://WWW.JohnUwangue.blogspot.com

  11. jaguarnana on said:

    You stated something very poignant & it is the albeit temporary uneasy feeling you get when a young black male walks in the door, be it a restaurant, shop or even the bus. I know I have the “mmh please don’t act a fool here” look on my face.

    But my first near experience of black male on black male crime was when my kid (he hates that ) brother came to visit me in London and we went out mostly in south east London because that’s where spicy Nigerian related food were, I observed how stiffly he walked down the street making no eye contact with anyone and more alarming was how these black kids/teens/overgrown teens were sizing him up as we walked by! i guess they were trying to figure which gang he was and if he was trespassing. It is truly sad and I would love to say yeah we have to change our image yadi yada… but most of the black youths in the media are those rappers, dancers and sport players (no offense but these guys are mostly drop outs) you can’t expect much from them and that’s why the media love them.

    Please lets encourage ourselves to go to school o! stop all these dancing & rapping that’s what blacks are known for even when they come to Africa we be clapping and jumping (i hate that) Has anyone noticed this new trend of young healthy youths paid to dance for a promotion on the streets of Lagos, if I won N10milion Naira I won’t even dance with as much joy as I see on those kids face under the hot sun. Abeg use that energy and go school na

  12. Itnerdd on said:

    On the contrary, we have been trying to explain to white people why we (blacks) are mad for years. If they did not understand during the days of Martin Luther King, they will not understand now. It is high time we start to discuss how to change the status quo. Point blank, if one went into the senate, you could literally pin point every single black person. How many cities have black State Attorneys? In that case, how do you expect to not be discriminated against. I believe at this point, education is no longer an option, it is a necessity. As black people, we need to educate ourselves and fight for our rights by changing the balance of power. We need to get ourselves in power. We need to become leaders. No amount of protesting will change anything. As a matter of fact, the protesters in Ferguson could be rightfully classified as nuisance. It is time to stop constituting a nuisance and getting ourselves some legal power.

  13. I recommend that you all read the book “blink” by Malcolm Gladwell. It xrays the impact of the decisions we make in the blink of an eye. That perception is what ofili was talking about.

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