Race and Crime

spy-vs-spy1Prompted by the spat AtheismIsUnstoppable appears to be having on Youtube with various people, I thought I’d look into this myself. Now, the statistics are incredibly hard to get right so I have very little confidence in what I’ve put here save in the absolute broadest strokes. Hence I’m not bothering with citations. I encourage you to look yourself to see just how hard it is to drill down to the necessary data.

It’s almost as though there’s something to hide :-/

Incarceration Rates
Black 4.7% of adult male population
White 0.7% of adult male population

So what accounts for this?

  • Black people are around 30% more likely than whites to live in the inner city, a situation which correlates with increased crime rates.
  • Black people are around 30% more likely than whites to be poor, a situation which correlates with increased crime rates.
  • Black people are around 10% less likely to complete high school, 10% less likely to complete some college, 13% less likely to get a BA and 5% less likely to get an advanced degree.

These all crossover to a greater or lesser degree, but it’s fairly safe to say that this means that non-racial community differences can account for at least 1/3rd of the differences in crime rates, probably more. Poverty, and its attendant life-problems, is the single biggest factor in the ongoing difficulties of the black community.

So correcting for socioeconomic differences we’re looking at a very rough guesstimate of adjusted crime stats at:

Black: 1.57% (adjusted)
White: 0.7%

It’s still double (though probably a bit less) and that part that remains still needs to be accounted for.

Racism is undoubtedly part of that, as is racial profiling (which is statistically, if not ethically justified), however it’s unlikely that it is as much of a problem as is being made out as there are still other factors.

Culture may well also be a part of that, at least amongst young black men. Young black women defy many of the above statistics and are doing especially well in higher education. There may well be some valid critiques when it comes to ‘gangsta’ culture and the relative hopelessness of being a young black man in the inner city seeing few opportunities but crime (or outside bets like music or sports).

The major problem is socioeconomic though. If you want to make the biggest difference to poverty – and racism – the best way to do it is to tackle social inequality, the wealth gap, the lack of social mobility in American society as a whole.

Raising class consciousness and common ground between the poor and disenfranchised, across racial lines, will do far more for everyone than deepening racial divides, and the black community seems as guilty of that as any confederate flag-waving redneck. That’s possibly the greatest tragedy an outside observer of American culture sees, sadly.

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