The Statistics of U.S. Race Relations – “White Privilege”

How tribalism and false accusations are hurting American society

Photo Courtesy of Gage Skidmore

By: Hayden Cunningham

In 1776, America’s founding fathers assembled together to write a document that would change the shape of the world. The document had a particular phrase that stood out among the rest. It was one so simple to read: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Interesting how that was the first time a governing body decided to write that down.

It is in this declaration, as well as the constitution, that our country finds its framework. These documents may very well be the most important political documents in world history, and after nearly 250 years they are still being used as the final say in our legal system.

However, the United States has an unfortunate history. While the words of the constitution and the Declaration of Independence ring true, there have been times in our country’s society where they were not implemented properly. Racism has been a prevalent issue in our entire country’s history even though many of the deceleration signers were anti-slavery. Many opposed implementing laws on slavery in these documents out of fear the southern states would refuse to join the union, but assumed the issue would be resolved in the future. Although we should condemn our country’s past for these horrible events, the truth of those statements in the constitution and the Deceleration of Independence still hold true.

After nearly two and a half centuries of conflict in the United States, laws have been implemented to ensure legal equality to all people regardless of their race, gender, sexuality, etc. So I ask a question that has no simple answer: Why do so many Americans believe that discrimination is still a major issue in 2020 America?

Of course after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there was still racism. The government took action in creating laws and a legal system that would protect racial minorities, but there is not much it can do to change society. There is, however, many statistics that show a change in societal attitude towards non-white races between when the Civil Rights Act passed and today. In 1958, only 4% of Americans approved of black-white marriage. In 2013, that percentage rose to 87%. It’s hard to tell exactly what society thinks of race relations in modern day, but stats like these can point us in some direction. “Hate crime” statistics are hard to analyze, as sometimes it is difficult to learn a person’s motive behind a crime (and the fact that really all violent crime is an act of hate).

Here are several statistics worth mentioning about the black community in modern America:

  • In the last four years, more total white Americans were killed per year by police officers than total black Americans. Counter-arguments stated that black individuals were killed disproportionately, as they are a smaller percent of the population. But a study conducted by African-American economist Roland Fryer at Harvard found that there is no conclusive evidence that a disproportionate amount of black individuals are killed by police officers when you account for all relevant factors.
  • In 2019, there were 4,046 crimes committed that were motivated by racial bias. In 2018, that number was 4,131. The demographics of the offenders of hate crimes (crimes based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or gender) were 53.6% white, and 24% black. Of these crimes, 65% were against a person, while 31% were against property. This is in the United States, a country with a population of 330 million people. To put this into perspective, in 2018 there were about 1.2 million offenses of violent crime, and 7.2 million offenses of property crime.
  • According to the FBI’S homicidal rates by race In 2016, 243 black Americans were killed by whites. Now this does not necessarily mean they were killed because of their race. Further on with statistics from 2016, 2,570 black Americans were killed by other black Americans, and 533 white Americans were killed by black Americans. Consider these statistics along with the fact that black Americans are 13% of the population but commit about 50% of the crime.
  • The Washington Post reports that in 2019, the number of unarmed black people shot and killed by the police was 9 (19 for white people). Further filtering the number, the number of unarmed black people who were shot and killed by the police and were not attempting to flee the scene was 3 (15 for white people). And many respond with the weak argument that “well black people are shot more as a percentage because they make up less of the population than white people.” But to understand this statistic, you cannot take the total population of the country. You need to take the total number of police interactions. And when you account for the fact that black individuals commit more crime, they are far less likely to be fatally shot by the police (as a percentage) than white individuals.
  • A police officer is 18.5 times more likely to be shot by a black man than a black man is to be shot by an officer.
  • In 2011, 35% of gang members were black, 46% were Hispanic, and 11% were white.
  • When looking at the FBI’s crime statistics for 2016, we see the disparities in youth crime rates. 61% of murders and manslaughter by individuals under 18 are black. 68% of youth robberies are black individuals. And while there are categories that races other than black are the majority (a majority of underage rapes are performed by white youth), a majority of all the violent youth crimes are carried out by black Americans. When looking at the adult statistics, the same result occurs.
  • In 2018, 65% of black children were being raised in single-parent households. In 1960, it was only 22%. Out of wedlock births are on the rise as well.
  • In 2018, the black high school graduation rate was 79%, compared to the white percentage of 89%.
  • As of 2017, there was a fewer percentage of black people in the country admitted to Ivy League universities today than there were 35 years prior. This being after decades of Affirmative Action.

Why is all this important? I don’t state these statistics to imply that white people have it harder than black people. And I don’t have the intention of calling out all black Americans. And I certainly am not saying that there are no individuals in our country who discriminate based off race. I am making the point that there are severe cultural differences in America. Black communities seem to have cultural issues that need to be resolved. And these solutions can’t exclusively come from government. In many ways, government causes these problems. During the 1960’s, Lyndon B. Johnson’s expansion of the welfare state created programs that in many ways incentivized single parent households. People need to look at how they can solve problems themselves before they look to the government for help.

The Brookings Institute has a simple life plan they call the “success sequence.” The plan has three steps: finish high school, get a full-time job, and wait until the age of 21 to get married and have children. Among people who follow these three things, only 2% of them are in poverty. This is a huge way to push an individual and their family into the middle-class.

These statistics are not caused by racism, as we see many of these negative statistics have increased since the Civil Right Act was passed. Wouldn’t we expect these to go down? And many may point out that more black individuals are in jail than whites because of systematic racism, but the crime has to be committed for you to be in jail. And if the argument for single-parent households (particularly single-mother households) in the 1960’s was that the father was being killed by white people and police officers, then why has the rate tripled between then and now?

This is important because on average, children in a home with two parents are better off. These statistics are a huge indicator and one explanation for economic disparity among white Americans and black Americans. It is less likely that it is “fundamental racism” in our law system and more likely a cultural issue. This shows the differences in the only privilege that matters: growing up in a stable, two-parent home.

Now let’s make sure not to confuse race and culture. Race is your skin color. In actuality, race does not matter. It doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, Asian, etc. And even seeing “I don’t see color” will get you some scoffs from many who counter-argue that the correct answer would be that we all appreciate and recognize all races. What you should appreciate is different cultures, and your ancestor’s culture. A Hispanic person who lives in America, goes to an ordinary high school, loves McDonald’s, and loves football is practicing American culture. This is not to say that practicing culture outside our country is wrong…to some extent. Our country and its society requires certain levels of assimilation; multiculturalism needs a foundation of agreement to thrive.

I am white, but my family ancestry is Hispanic. My grandfather on my father’s side was an immigrant from Mexico with the last name of Martinez. White is my race, and American is my culture. I strongly believe it is important to learn and educate yourself about your ancestry’s culture. If I was more physically Hispanic, my culture is still the same. Makes sense? It’s an important difference.

It’s important because it seems like if you asked a black individual to say five words to describe them, one of those words would probably be “black,” or any race other than white would describe themselves with their race. I would also guess that it would be more likely for a white person to use the word “American” than a non-white person (this is anecdotal, I have yet to find a study on this). I would argue against this because it is not unifying. Identity based on race is not inherently good. The only thing we all have in common is that we are Americans, and that is something we forget. That one thing we can all have in common is under attack when Collin Kapernick kneels during the national anthem. And instead of condemning him for making a statement at an inappropriate time, he was applauded by the media.

This leads us to people who try to prove racism is more prevalent in modern society than it really is. This may be politicians who are trying to have a political agenda, or individuals who don’t take the time to research what’s happening. Think about those who make their living off of race issues: Collin Kapernick, Reverend Al Sharpton, director Spike Lee, comedians like Dave Chappelle. If tomorrow race relations in America were perfect, people like these would be out of a job (I do respect Chappelle, though). When you spend your entire career making all your money off of racial tension, you should not be the ones looked to when we need someone to help solve problems.

The 1619 Project released least year by the New York Times, makes an attempt to have readers believe that America and its foundational democracy was founded on racism. This project attempts to tear down the framework of our country, and encourages a revolt that is based on a lie. Slavery was a part of the founding of our country, but it wasn’t a main tenant of our democracy. The New York Times wants to draw a correlation with dark parts of our country’s history with our modern day politics. They don’t have the intentions of educating people on the history of slavery, they want to correlate it to President Trump.

Contrary to belief, the Constitution does not say that a black person is not a full person (3/5 of a person). It originally decided that black individuals would have 3/5 representation in Congress as a way for the north and the south to compromise with how slaves would be recorded in congressional representation. It still wasn’t right, but it was not quite the same.

America was not founded on racism. America, in fact, was founded primarily on Judeo-Christian principles and values all the way back to those on the Mayflower before the country was formed. In those values are the belief that men and women are created in the image of God and that all human life is of equal and divine value. Those beliefs were not properly executed in American politics for quite some time, and while that should be condemned it is still absurd to say the country was founded on a belief that freedom will exclusively be for white men.

In modern times, we face the issues of politicians trying to achieve compensation to the groups of people who faced oppression. Racial quotas in schools and businesses are proposed. The obvious disagreement is that you may pick someone solely because of race, and pass over a more qualified person. Someone who was more productive, innovative and had good leadership. The government should not make policy that helps one group at the expensive of another. Remember Martin Luther King Jr.’s words: that one day we can have a nation where people “will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

There are even proposals to provide financial compensation to all black Americans for the way their ancestors were treated. And although some of them may have good intentions, this isn’t practical. Being black in 2020 America is not the same as being black in the 1800’s or the 1960’s. You weren’t alive during this time.

A major problem of acting as though historic racism is in modern society is the use of the “N word.” The word was historically used as a way to push down slaves and black Americans. But obviously the context has changed in major ways. Yes there are some white people out there online or in person that will use it with the intention of being offensive. But why are black communities using it? Why has the community, and rappers specifically, made it a word of endearment with one another? It has now become a substitute for “friend” or “brother” or “guy.” And it’s kind of lazy when you hear someone use the word dozens of times in one conversation. Not only is the word being used as endearment, but the use of the word by anyone non-white is prohibited. It doesn’t matter if you’re using the same context, it doesn’t matter if you’re even repeating what you heard form someone else.

This is wrong. In no way does this unify races. It is a word that has now been weaponized; a black person can look at a white person and understand that he can say something the other can’t. And why does this matter? Because not only is this tactic trying to restrict and censor what people say unless they pass certain rule (which is how dark their skin is), but it is making problems worse not better. It is something that separates people, and does not bring them together. And why keep the word around at all when it has such a dirty history?

When talking about history, people need to refrain using words like “we” when talking about oppression or “you” when talking about oppressors. We live in a different time. Accusing someone of reaping benefits of their ancestors is something that can’t always be verified. Then there’s the truth of humankind: we are all born at random. We’re all dealt a random hand of life and put into a point in time that is not in our control. There is always someone out there that was born in better, or more “privileged” circumstances than you. And there is always someone who was born in worse circumstances. But there is a lack of evidence to support the claim that an entire race is better off than another one in modern-day society. Equal opportunity and equal outcome may not exist for everyone. But we must insure that every person has equal access to resources that can help them better their lives.

All these factors affect how we vote. The Democratic party has taken large efforts to make the American people believe they are the party of inclusion, and that the Republicans are the party of racism. And no, there was no “platform switch” in the 1960’s when there were Republicans who were fighting for segregation. Less than 1% of the notable racist democratic politicians in the south switched to the Republican party.

The Democratic party of today, that claims to be diverse, failed to have a person of color be the nominee for president. That should not be a wrong thing. But many went on to claim that it was wrong other races were not being represented enough in the field of candidates. Is that not a somewhat racist thing to say? Why does a black politician have to represent the black community? What if black voters decided that a politician of a different race best represented them? You don’t vote for race or sex, you vote for policy.

Identity politics over the last forty years has become a serious issue. People are more willing to vote for a group they belong to rather than practice individual though. How often is it where you see a political group and you immediately know all their stances on every issue after hearing one or two? This is a major problem for both political parties.

Why is all this important? Because truth is something worth seeking. It’s sad to think that there are underprivileged kids or those who are a racial minority that think they have a target on their back. On a nationwide scale, they don’t. Now there are instances of racially motivated white-on-black crimes, and some racially-motivated killings from either civilians or police officers. These should be condemned, and I would argue that almost everyone in our country would agree. But to claim that there is a systemic problem of racism in our justice system and government has no verifiable evidence. And reverse-racism towards white people (which is just racism) is not the answer either. And when you have a party that encourages group identity rather than individual thought, it makes it even harder for people to succeed.

Using the term “white privilege” can very much insult white individuals who have not had advantages due to their race. When you point to someone who has struggled and worked hard in life, and you tell them that because they are white they have had an easier life, it belittles their success. It tells them that their success is not because of their own-doing, but because of their skin color they have had things slightly easier. There is no white privilege, as a whole, in 2020 America. There is no law or systemic advantage given to white people while hindering people of color. And if society wants to take a case-by-case approach to systems that may be helping one group or another, of course we should address that. Laws and society have changed, and while there are those few who definitely face discrimination due to their skin color, it is not nearly as widespread as it once was, nor is it socially acceptable.

Racial diversity does not matter. Race should never be a factor in how you evaluate a person. The only diversity that matters is intellectual diversity. Find people who disagree with you, who have different life experiences than you and is willing to discuss them in a polite and civilized manner. Stop always trying to find someone to blame. And focus more on what we all have in common rather than what makes us different. I’m not saying there aren’t still racists out there, and there certainly may be societal racism in communities around the country. But to act as though there is a systemic force keeping you down because of your skin color is just not true.

Calling someone a “racist” for stating these statistics is wrong. Calling someone “xenophobic” for supporting ICE or stricter immigration is wrong. The left makes a conscientious effort to label those who disagree with them with “-ism’s” and “-phobia’s.” None of this is productive. When one side spends half of their argument labeling those who have sincere intentions but think there are better solutions, how will we ever solve problems and make the lives of all Americans better? You want to blame Donald Trump’s rhetoric for political tension in the United States? When Democratic leaders, CNN, and the mainstream media has spent the last four years comparing Republicans and President Trump to NAZI’s? So much so that a person with a MAGA hat in public is under threat of being beaten? So much so that people think ALL cops are evil? So much so that there are people who call out ALL white people, citing “white privilege” and “white guilt” is relevant? My advice: Take a step back from your news source and think about who may be lying to you for political gain.

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