Let’s stop justifying racism

Julia Geaney-Moore

Guest Writer

Black citizens are 2.7 times more likely to be shot by the police than white citizens, according to the Fatal Encounters database.

This is an astounding number. Each case has different circumstances, but the fact remains that police officers, the very people who are charged with protecting citizens, have been responsible for killing them.

The Black Lives Matter movement has grown into a national protest to bring attention to these deaths and demand justice. Protests have taken many forms and drawn attention through numbers. But who can make the biggest change? Those who are well-respected and listened to: people who are already famous.

When quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers Colin Kaepernick peacefully protested against police brutality at a game by taking a knee during the national anthem, he used his fame and power for good. His action was not only effective in drawing attention and thought, it was brave and innovative.

I know several people who have not stood for the national anthem at ball games for years. My own father is one of them, because he does not support glorifying war. But the fact is that Kaepernick’s action had much more of a widespread effect than those who are not famous.

Kaepernick’s protest inspired other football players to copy him and develop other ways of showing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter cause. It is a mark of the times that people like Kaepernick would take the risk of kneeling during the national anthem while the entire country stands in reverence.

Kaepernick and other football players may have much to lose, but it is worth the risk to gain equality and stop the deaths of black U.S. citizens at the hands of police officers.

“There’s a lot of racism disguised as patriotism in this country,” said Kaepernick according to CNN.

According CNN, Kaepernick is paying the price, as he has received death threats against him.

“It will be loud and clear for everyone why it happened, and that would move this movement forward at a greater speed than what it is even now,” Kaepernick said in response to the death threats, according to the article.

Let’s knock on wood that it will not come to that.

To top off the drama, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump commented that he thought the protesters should leave the country.

Not only has the protest caused death threats, but about a third of NFL TV viewers say they are less likely to watch because they do not approve of the national anthem protests, according to Sporting News.

The polls also gathered information that 28 percent of African-Americans felt more inclined to watch NFL on TV than before the protests. These are dramatic numbers and show the divide in how the country views the Black Lives Matter movement.

Racism has been an ongoing theme in this country reaching back to slavery. Yet, only now are some of these patterns coming to light with concrete examples. The recent instances of police officers killing black citizens are re-occurrences of events that have happened before on many occasions.

Our increasing use of social media and video sharing has brought these patterns to public attention. Now, more than ever, racial injustice is apparent to all. Now, more than ever, is it possible to speak out and begin finding ways to stop this injustice.

Those who boycott NFL TV because they think the players do not show proper respect for the national anthem are missing the point. Such “patriots” continue to ignore the incredibly obvious, ongoing instances of racism and racial profiling.

But Kaepernick, as well as those in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, have reminded us yet again that there is no justifying racism and the laws of human rights must apply to all.

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One thought on “Let’s stop justifying racism

  1. I have no doubt the above article is well intended but I believe it demonstrates a perfect example of bias by omission. I do not say this to embarrass or humiliate the writer, but to demonstrate that while a statistical social disparity may be present it does not clearly indicate discrimination. The initial claim that “Black citizens are 2.7 times more likely to be shot by police than white citizens” is useless unless we understand why police have so many encounters with black citizens where they believe deadly force is necessary.

    This is not an easy question to answer. We could assume that police are discriminatory in their use of deadly force, however there is no evidence to support this claim aside from the indicator of the 2.7% disparity the article mentioned. Fortunantly we do have alternative statistics that grant us an indication of why this may be; the Department of Justice Uniform Crime Report.

    While black citizens are 2.7 times more likely to be shot by police, they are also 6 times as likely to be arrested for murder, and of those arrested for murder, they are 12 times as likely to be arrested for murdering someone of another race (Both multiples use the same mathematic per capital methodology as the 2.7 multiple). Understand that these numbers do not reflect attempted murder nor do they reflect a shooting where the victim walks away alive.

    Of course, the crime of murder is different than other crimes. For one, law enforcement professionals do not have descression when it comes to arresting a murder suspect as they might other crimes. Therefore one cannot simply dismiss these facts as acts of over prosecution for violent crimes. To assume a racial bias in black purpetraitor arrest rates may be slightly justified, but you would need to assume that blacks are falsely arrested and overcharged at a rate five times as high as whites. Such a statement given that statistics would be preposterous.

    The point is that when it comes to violent crime, African Americans exceede their white counterparts in arrests in almost every violent category. In most, if not all of those categories, the disparity is well above a multiple of 2.7. Therefore, it should not be a surprise if black citizens are 2.7 times more likely “to be shot,” notice the absence of the word “killed,” by police. If your commiting an act of violence you are more likely to have an encounter with an officer with his weapon drawn. That will inevitably lead to a disparate amount of police shootings of black suspects for a number of alarming but understandable, though not always justifiable, reasons.

    The multiple of 2.7, while honest and alarming, is misleading at best when making an assessment of the state of inequality in the United States. If anything, the statistics demonstrate that in proportion to their rate of violent crime per capita, police actually shoot less black citizens than their white counterparts. In fact, it demonstrates an amazing amount of restraint.

    Kaepernick’s response is therefore unjustified. Of course, he could protest the amount police brutality/violence experienced by all suspects, but then he would need to determin what rate of police violence is acceptable both given the circumstances and the fact that you cannot erraticate it 100%. All activism must have an end goal. Nevertheless both the writer above and and Kaepernick’s both have the right to their opinions. They do not have the right of their own separate facts, and the largest barrier on conversations about racial disparity and the solutions toward racial disparity is both ignoring the facts and assuming facts have suddenly become racist. Indeed if our aim to stop justifying racism, a great start would be to stop automatically assuming that police are more racist than what the facts convey. Though such assumptions may not be on purpose, they convey the same sense of confirmation bias and unconscious racism that they claim to be against and promote the opposite of social justice.

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