"What’s wrong is to refer to black on black crime as evidence of something uniquely pathological about black people.I came across this at the same time I was responding to a request for some data. Somebody asked if there was any hard data backing up an assertion I made that blacks want more (not less) police presence.
[But] to instead classify the term “black on black crime” as a slur, period — and this is what is happening of late — is illogical. Moreover, it detracts attention from genuine concern for black communities.
And finally, treating “black on black crime” as a new “bad word” will only create fakery, and the way we discuss race in this country already has enough of that. Enlightened people’s impulse to avoid causing offense to black people and to always demonstrate that they are not racists will force a certain attendance to the pox on saying “black on black crime.” It will become a cocktail party cliché to dutifully observe “But white people are more likely to be killed by whites!” and shrug, with the implication that anyone who doesn’t understand that is “one of them,” unenlightened, and likely willfully so, impeded by their inner racists from giving black people are fair shot.
But under the radar, plenty of people will always know that this taboo doesn’t really make sense, and that it even seems to pull attention away from what real black people living real lives think of as their real problems.
We should, to the extent we can, use language with clarity and honesty. Pretending it’s always wrong to refer to something called “black on black crime” is antithetical to that mission, and we need to nip the burgeoning of this new and useless taboo in the bud with all deliberate speed.
A quick search with the ol' googlay found this 2015 Gallup poll: 38 percent of blacks want more police presence (and this compares to just 18 percent of whites). Only 10 percent of blacks want less police presence. Wanted more police and wanting fewer bad police are not mutually exclusive, of course.
People -- particularly black people, particular people more likely to be victimized by violent crime -- want more police. So when you hear people say blacks are over-policed and want less policing, you might wonder for whom they speak. Meanwhile, the Movement for Black Lives (which is or overlaps heavily with Black Lives Matter) released a platform that is more concerned with the problem of Israel(?) than black-on-black crime. (Did I miss it? Is there really nothing in this platform about crime when not perpetrated by cops?) Fear of crime and criminals always trumps fear of police and over-policing.
A short while back another person with knowledge of crime issues asked me if it were really true that blacks are more likely than whites to commit serious violent crimes. It's good not to highlight this point out of context (lest racists go to town) since poverty and other variables account for much of the racial disparity, but indeed, yes.
In 2014 (latest UCR numbers, when homicides were fewer) 6,095 blacks and 5,397 whites were murdered in America. There are 42,749,0000 blacks and 247,814,000 whites in America. That comes out to a black homicide rate of 14.3 and a white homicide rate of 2.2 per 100,000. [Just FYI, last year the homicide rate in Baltimore's Eastern District was 100 per 100,000.] This is a huge disparity. Blacks are 6.5 times more likely than whites to be killed. I kind of thought this was common knowledge. But maybe I'm in too deep.
So this goes back to the usage of "black on black crime." I don't care to engage in semantic debates when lives are at stake. I won't be silent. But if it helps move the discussion toward solutions, I'm very willing to drop "black on black crime" and talk instead about black homicide victims or something. But talking about black homide victims begs the question of who the killers are. And since most crime is intra-racial, we're left with a certain circular logic that goes back to "black on black" crime! [And look, I just combined three questionable phrases in one paragraph! Along with "black on black crime," I'm not really certain if I did "beg the question" or if my logic was "circular." But my point is to get my point across.]
Not so long ago a friend of mine commented on the phenomenon of white folks who complain they can't use the "n-word." His point was "Why? You gotta ask yourself, why do you want to use it? What are trying to express that demands using this work?" (He was using the abstract "you" and not referring to me, just FYI.) If your point is simply to offend, then maybe it's best to keep your trap shut. See, the value of political correctness isn't to march in lockstep with some ideology, it's to not be an asshole.
So it's fair to ask, "Why do you want to use the phrase 'black-on-black crime'?" And the answer is because too many people are trying to distract from a real problem. Like too many cops, I've seen the carnage of "black on black crime" first hand. Last year the homicide rate in Baltimore's Eastern District was 100 per 100,000. I, like many police officers, too often feel that we are the only people who actually give a shit. Murders don't make the papers; victims won't even tell you their names. Who else (apart from EMS, nurses, and doctors) spends most of their waking hours trying to save lives? Now this sentiment may not be true, but when you get home after hearing gunshots, canvassing for witnesses, and riffling through the bloody clothes of another young black male victim, it's an understandable sentiment.
Call it what you will, but rather than make another phrase taboo, we should, as McWhorter says, pay more attention to "what real black people living real lives think of as their real problems." Sometimes those voices are too hard to hear.