challenged those who disagree to present a list of white people killed within the past few years under circumstances similar to those that so enrage us in cases such as what happened to Tamir Rice, John Crawford, Walter Scott, Sam Debose and others.Well I keep track of these things and through Glenn passed some names on to Professor McWhorter. I give sincere respect to Professor McWhorter for his intellectual honesty today in Time:
The simple fact is that this list exists.Unlike McWhorter, I was not surprised by Fryer's conclusions. Like McWhorter, "I am neither a neither Republican nor conservative." But unlike McWhorter, I am white. (Though I have written about some of the more egregious cases, it sounds a bit funny to say, Romney like, "I have a binder full of white people!") I don't want to be liked and linked to by racists and the "alt-right".
When a black man is killed by a cop, do we grieve more because there are 46 million of us as opposed to 198 million whites? I doubt it: most Americans never hear about the white men’s deaths at all.
Rather, we operate according to a meme under which cops casually kill black men under circumstances in which white men are apparently let off with a hand slap -- and occasional cases of just that are what often get around social media, suggesting that they are the norm.
However, at the end of the day any intelligent engagement with these issues must keep front and center that there was a Daniel Shaver for John Crawford, a Michael Parker for Walter Scott, a James Scott for Laquan McDonald. Economist Roland Fryer’s conclusions, stunning even to him, that cops use more force against black people but do not kill them more than they kill whites is perhaps less perplexing than it seems.
But I've researched and written about race before. I said, "The idea that police don't use lethal force in a racist way might be a tough pill for many to swallow." But if one wishes to reduce police-involved shootings -- and all of us do; cops don't go to work hoping to shoot somebody -- there are good liberal reasons to de-emphasize the significance of race in policing.
Jonathan Ayers, Andrew Thomas, Diaz Zerifino, James Boyd, Bobby Canipe, Dylan Noble, Dillon Taylor, Michael Parker, Loren Simpson, Dion Damen, James Scott, Brandon Stanley, Daniel Shaver, and Gil Collar were all killed by police in questionable to bad circumstances. McWhorter added Alfred Redwine and Mary Hawkes. You can probably find others from Washington Post data. What they have in common is none were black and very few people seemed to know or care when they were killed.
According to the Washington Post, 990 people were shot dead by police in 2015. 258 were black. More significant than racial differences -- much of which can be explained by racially disproportionate levels of violence -- are stunning regional differences.
Last year in California, police shot and killed 188 people. That's a rate of 4.8 per million. New York, Michigan, and Pennsylvania collectively have 3.4 million more people than California (and 3.85 million more African Americans). In these three states, police shot and killed (just?) 53 people. That's a rate of 1.2 per million. That's a big difference.
Were police in California able to lower their rate of lethal force to the level of New York, Michigan, and Pennsylvania -- and that doesn't seem too much to ask for -- 139 fewer people would be killed by police. And this is just in California! (And California isn't even the worst state; I'm picking on California because it's large and very much on the high end.)
Now keep in mind most police-involved shootings are not only legally justifiable, they are necessary and good at the moment the cop pulls the trigger. But that doesn't mean that the entire situation was inevitable. Cops don't want to shoot people. They want to stay alive. You give cops a safe way to reduce the chance they have to pull the trigger, and they'll certainly take it.
I really don't know what some departments and states are doing right and others wrong. But it's hard for me to believe that the residents of California are so much more violent and threatening to cops than the good people of New York or Pennsylvania. I suspect lower rates of lethal force has a lot to do with recruitment, training, verbal skills, deescalation techniques, not policing alone, and more restrictive gun laws. (I do not include Tasers on this list.)
If we could bring the national rate of people shot and killed by police (3 per million) down to the level found in, say, New York City (The big bad NYPD shoots and kills just 0.7 per million) we'd reduce the total number of people killed by police 77 percent, from 990 to 231!
[Update: Here are more names worth considering, taken from comments to this post: David Kassick , Josh Grubb and Samantha Ramsey (examples of officer-created danger), John Winkler, Robert Saylor. Zachary Hammond. Sal Culosi. John Geer. Autumn Steele (This is rare case of an unarmed white person shot by a black officer.) Michael McCloskey.
Also, it turns out Bobby Canipe lived. But I'm still including him because, my God.
And it's well worth watching Glenn Loury and John McWhorter talk about The List in a more recent Bloggingheads.tv]