I recently read an article written by Natasga Bertrand on Business Insider titled “A staggering number of black men in America are now “missing.” The titled piqued my interest and I decided to take a closer look.
Ms. Bertrand’s premise is that hundreds of thousands of black men in America are missing from everyday life due to disproportionately high death and incarceration rates of black men in the U.S. She even goes so far as to say, “New York City would have roughly 120,000 more black husbands, fathers, employers, and employees were it not for this imbalance.”
Ms. Bertrand blames all of these social disparities on institutionalized racism, which have made black men much more likely to die young or go to jail than nonblack men or women. She continues with the following statistics: “Of the 1.5 million missing black men, 600,000-roughly 1 in 12 are in jail. If incarceration does not claim the men, murder often does. More black men between 25-54 are victims of homicide than any other demographic. Young Black men are 11 times more likely to die at the hands of police than their white counterparts.”
What is interesting is what is missing from this article. Ms. Bertrand states and cherry-picks the facts, but conveniently leaves out the most important part, context. Curiously, she does not state the percentage of black males that are victims of a homicide by another black male. 90% of black victims are killed by black offenders, not police or any other demographic. This especially true in places such as Philadelphia, Detroit, New York, and Chicago. I am not saying that police abuse does not exist, nor that racism does not exist.
However, the facts, when taken in context, paint a very different picture than the one Ms. Bertrand wishes to portray. In 2012 (most recent data available), there were about twelve million arrests in the USA. That averages 34,000 arrests per day. In 99.9% of those cases, the perpetrator was not killed by police. In fact just over 400 fatal police shootings a year are recorded in this country, according to the FBI. More whites are killed than blacks by police. However, a larger percentage of blacks are killed by police.
The question becomes why? Is it institutionalized racism or is there a simpler explanation? Police are far more likely to be killed by black men than by any other ethnicity. It is no surprise that police are going to be even more apprehensive going into communities where the majority of residence are black. Does this make it right? Of course not. But reality is reality. Why don’t police kill more Asians or Hispanics? Hispanics almost make up half of the country’s population, yet police shootings of Hispanics is far lower than African-Americans. Yet, the percentage of black male deaths and incarceration remains higher than most minorities. Are police more racist against blacks than Asians or Latino’s? I doubt it. The black males that are arrested are mostly due to violence and drug crimes.
Ms. Bertrand’s argument is that if we would let them go these men would go home, become entrepreneurs, and be there for their families. What? Has Ms. Bertrand ever been to Detroit, Chicago or Philadelphia? Not only is this belief naive, but extremely dangerous. This men are not locked up for being angels, but violent offenders. Even the perpetrators that are abused by the police such as Rodney King are usually violent offenders who just happened to be brutalized by a stronger force. Abuse of power is always wrong, but that doesn’t mean the victims weren’t violent criminals.
Ms. Bertrand does not seem to want to see the truth. There is a reason the black family is collapsing. Yes, it has a lot to do with the lack of good male role models in the African-American home, but it is a far deeper problem. It is a cultural problem. R&B, the gangsta culture, pride, and the intrusiveness of the government in their lives have torn their culture apart piece by piece. Systemic race hustlers like Al Sharpton have permeated a sick belief of perpetual victimization, which has the opposite effect of helping.
Jobs and other opportunities would surely help, up to a point. However, it would quickly re-collapse due to the collapse of the family and cultural problems. It has become a perpetual cycle of death.
Instead of demanding more government intervention, black leaders should be advocating for welfare reform (which worked wonderfully under Clinton), removing the minimum wage laws, which disproportionately impacts minorities from poor neighborhoods, and advocating community involvement and self-regulation.
I know this is controversial and many would say I am ignorant. They argue that black unemployment and being locked-up are a result of systemic, institutional racism and that white-privilege and lack of spending are to blame.
They are wrong. The war on poverty has destroyed the black family and they are worse off since the LBJ era. Not to mention, the out of wedlock birth’s, and increase in welfare has had a negative impact on the black community. Under Clinton, welfare benefits and black unemployment simultaneously dropped. By all accounts, it was a success and President Obama revoked that law. Is it no wonder the black unemployment rate is higher under Obama than the last few President’s?
We can argue about the need for criminal law reform and mandatory sentencing, but let’s not conflate the issue and create a straw-man. The problem is not re-vamping the laws, but repealing or reforming current laws such as the minimum wage, teaching personal responsibility, and going back to what worked before [BTB]. We could make a huge dent in unemployment, especially black unemployment, if we were willing to put politics aside and do what works.