Black Lives Matter demonstrators during a march in St. Paul, Minn., March 19, 2021. (Nicholas Pfosi/Reuters)
The idea of equity, as everyone knows, is all the rage.
It holds that any racial disparity is evidence of racism and also a stinging indictment of American society.
What, then, of the yawning disparity between black victims of homicide and everyone else? Why isn’t this at the top of the nation’s agenda, treated with the same urgency as the alleged crisis of racist policing?
It’s been the focus of studies — usually from gun-control outfits, several of which I cite in this piece — and local activists and journalists. But it hasn’t achieved anything like the liftoff of Black Lives Matters, or the opposition to voting reforms in Republican states, or the pervasive effort to snuff out microaggressions and the like from universities, corporate America, and every other corner of American society.
No, it just doesn’t rate.
And we are talking about a disparity that couldn’t be any more stark — black men are killed, usually gunned down, in cold blood at vastly higher rates than any other group in society (albeit overwhelmingly at the hands of other black men). If you are a progressive who believes that any racial disparity is a function of institutional racism, this is a devastating commentary on racial discrimination in America, but it is met with a relative shrug and certainly none of the passion of, say, the resistance to the Georgia voting law.
Of course, it’s worse than that. Progressives have made this disparity worse. It is their narratives, their policies, and their elected officials who have enabled the current surge in murder, making a long-standing phenomenon even more pronounced.
Do they feel guilty about it, abashed in any way? There’s no sign of it, and indeed while gun homicides have increased since 2014, they’ve kept hammering on the police.
The basic picture is that blacks are about 13 percent of the population and half of all homicide victims.
The most reliable figures come from before the current surge in murders. A report from a couple of gun-control groups broke down numbers from the Centers for Disease Control.
In 2019, black males accounted for half of the gun homicides in the United States, or 7,590 of the 14,414 total, with black females accounting for almost another 1,000.
Compared with the 7,590 black males killed in 2019, 2,261 of the murder victims were white males, and 1,955 were Hispanic males. In short, blacks were 63 percent of male gun-murder victims.
The number, as you might expect, is even starker for young black males, ages 15 to 34. They were 37 percent of gun-murder victims even though they are only 2 percent of the population; the rate at which they are shot and killed is 20 times higher than for white males of the same age.
This chart shows the basic picture — the rate of black gun homicide victims plummeted with the historic drop of crime between 1970 and 2000, then began rising again with the rise of murders beginning in 2014. The trend is surely even more notable now.
The state of Missouri already had the highest rate of black victimization in 2014, but after the unrest attendant to the killing of Michael Brown, it went even higher, increasing 36 percent between 2014 and 2018, according to study from the Violence Policy Center.
The cultural arbiters could choose at any time to make this a major cause, to lead the media with it, to celebrate the cops who are trying to prevent the violence and arrest the perpetrators, and to make it an urgent priority to stop, disarm, and arrest the young black men who are threatening to shoot other young black men.
Of course, they’ve gone in the exact opposite direction, choosing instead to make villains of the cops and of policies such as stop-and-frisk.
The guru of so-called anti-racism, Ibram X. Kendi, wants an anti-racist amendment to the Constitution. It would be guided by the idea that “racial inequity is evidence of racist policy.” The amendment would create a Department of Anti-Racism that would be “responsible for preclearing all local, state, and federal public policies to ensure that they won’t yield racial inequity.”
If we assume that this amendment would ever come to fruition (which would mean the end of the American constitutional republic, but let’s put that detail aside), and that the resulting anti-racist star chamber would take its anti-disparity mission seriously across the board, progressive mayors and prosecutors would have their fashionable soft-on-crime priorities immediately reversed as racist and harmful to the lives and safety of black men.
That’s not going to happen, naturally. And it will remain a paradox of our time that, when the slogan “black lives matter” has become so ascendant and the notion of equity so all-consuming, the disproportionate murder of black men doesn’t exercise progressives nearly the way trans rights or H.R. 1 does.
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