By Christopher J. Ferguson for RealClearInvestigations
In the early 2000s the United States enjoyed comparative racial optimism. Majorities of both black and white citizens felt race relations were improving. Even left-leaning NPR highlighted “colorblindness” as an ideal. A generation later, race relations have nosedived. We hear regularly about “systemic racism” and “white supremacy.” Colorblindness now is considered racist. This whiplash may leave many people wondering what happened.
The 2014 Collapse in Race Relations
The collapse in race relations began in 2014. Exactly why this year was pivotal is unknown, though it coincides with the debunked “hands up, don’t shoot” framing of the Michael Brown killing and a larger “great awokening” wherein extreme identitarian views became more influential on the political left. Since 2014, little data suggests race disparities have gotten worse. Racist attitudes in the United States are at historic lows. However, news media coverage worrying over racism soared.
I studied this issue empirically in 2021. I wanted to see whether actual police shootings of unarmed black men correlated with race relations or whether news media coverage highlighting police shootings of black men was a better predictor. It turns out race relations are unrelated to actual police shootings, but correlate with news media coverage, which tends to obsess over shootings of black Americans while ignoring shootings of other individuals.
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The Moral Panic Over Race and Policing
After the 2020 murder of George Floyd, the United States experienced a “racial reckoning.” News media claimed police were systemically targeting black Americans for fatal violence. Defunding or even literally abolishing policing became serious policy proposals. The United States, we were told, was systemically racist.
Data on policing and race is complex and nuanced. Police killings of unarmed suspects are rare, according to the Washington Post, and they’ve been declining. Numbers peak at 95 for all races in 2015, declining to 32 for all races in 2021.
When it comes to police shootings of unarmed individuals, white suspects are shot more often than black suspects (by contrast, Asians are rarely shot by police compared to either group). Though more unarmed whites than blacks are killed by police, black suspects are indeed proportionally overrepresented.
However, commission of violent crime is also ethnically disproportional. Black and Hispanic men commit violent crimes disproportionally more often than do white or Asian men. That police shootings and commission of violent crime so neatly track one another is not a coincidence.
One might conclude that, perhaps, overrepresentation of black Americans as perpetrators of violent crime might be due to overpolicing of black communities. However, when we look at victims of homicide, most of which are the same race as the killers, we see the same pattern of black victims being overrepresented. This means the overpolicing hypothesis does not fit the data.
It is also worth noting that most young men of any ethnicity do not commit violent crimes. Race itself is not a determinant of violent crime. In one recent study, although racial composition of neighborhoods predicted violent crime, race no longer predicted violent crime once other community factors such as insufficient food, housing issues, air pollution and proportion of single-parent homes are controlled.
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Studies largely find the same thing when it comes to excessive use of police force. In another recent study, we found that class issues, particularly communities experiencing higher levels of mental health issues among residents — not race — predicted reports of excessive police force (except for Latinos, who reported less police force). To be fair, studies on this do vary in conclusion. However, in my view the weight of evidence suggests that class, not race, predicts excessive police force.
We found that higher levels of mental health problems among community residents predicted reports of excessive police force. This is probably because police are likely coming into contact with mentally ill residents who may escalate an encounter that began over something trivial. Other studies also suggest the chronically mentally ill more often experience physical force during police encounters. The mentally ill may struggle to respond to aggressive police commands. Thus, relatively minor encounters initially may intensify into dangerous situations. Better police training with mental illness may help.
Progressive “Fixes” Have Often Made Things Worse
Though often ostensibly speaking on behalf of minority groups, progressive theories on race have often made practical situations worse. The most obvious cost to low-income neighborhoods has been in delegitimizing or even defunding police and the predictable surge in crime that created. Evidence does suggests that the George Floyd protests and riots were associated with increased resignations of police officers as well as decreased policing in high-crime neighborhoods. These in turn, were associated with increased violent crime.
There are more subtle, harmful impacts as well. Informing people that they are at ever-present danger from police can be traumatizing. Research has long demonstrated that convincing people they are victims causes them to perceive injustice where it may not actually occur.
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It doesn’t help the Black Lives Matter organization has undermined confidence in its mission through a lack of transparency on financial matters and spending millions on mansions for its leaders, with comparatively little to show for how they have helped ordinary Black poor or working-class people.There is a wide space between thinking the United States is a racial utopia and that it’s an early 20th century apartheid state. But if we promote pessimistic narratives that are not well-grounded in data and focus on “solutions” that emphasize our differences and conflicts, we may actually risk the exact bad outcomes we hoped to alleviate.
Christopher J. Ferguson is a professor of psychology at Stetson University in Florida and author of “Catastrophe! The Psychology of Why Good People Make Bad Situations Worse.”
Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.
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Biden and his Democrats use race instead of class now to divide the people. This Race Marxism is much bigger than just the anti-police movement; it is their means to divide America and conquer it. The Bolsheviks united with the Mensheviks, Anarchists, and Social Revolutionaries to oppose the Czar’s regime until they gained power in late 1917, and then they eliminated them in 1918. Rest assured that the same pattern will be used against BLM, Antifa, and Democrat Socialists, should the Democrat Party gain total control.
The Democrat media ignored the black BLM activist Darrel Brooks intentional homicide of 6 white people and running over of nearly 60 during the Christmas parade in November 2021 in Wisconsin. Not one mention from Biden, who calls white supremacy the “most dangerous terrorist threat.” Biden is still chasing his imaginary windmills of white supremacy.
Biden also granted loans and aid to black but not white farmers and restaurant owners during the pandemic, The courts halted both of Biden’s orders for their obvious racial discrimination.
Then there has been the Critical Race Theory indoctrination by the Biden administration in the military and schools through the education Department. CRT is racist, divisive, and provably false, which helps to account for why the Army is at the lowest levels since before WWII.
Biden and the Democrat media have intentionally divided Americans by using race. While they attack every entity to gain control Soviet style–family, religion, biological sex identity, etc.–race is their biggest weapon. Hopefully, Americans will ignore these who seek to divide us in the next election.
it’s our government doing this to keep people from seeing what they are really doing, you put people at odds and then the government can do underhanded sneaky things like they are doing now,
the government is suppose to be for the- by the people and NOT against the people, for who pays their salaries-taxpayers
just look what the democrats have done in 2 years – inflation, illegals, children,
I, personally, think when Obummer took office is when race relations starting going down hill. It was like almost every word out of their (Mooshell and Obummer) mouths was about how racist this country was. They set race relations back 50 years. And neither one was worth the dynamite to blow them to He*l.
The Media started their systematic destruction in 2020 , for one reason and one reason only, their Masters in the DNC directed it to happen to sway the Black vote against Trump ( notice how the rioting and Destruction ended soon after the election and before Biden was installed. ) The Media has already started with the same attacks on Trump and DeSantis, they put things in writing under the Freedom of the press and the 1st amendment, knowing the Republican party and Candidates have no Main stream Media to counter the attacks ( That ended when Fox went woke ! ) The Demonrats have control of the Over the Air Channels and all prime channels on Cable. We can hope, the Biden agenda, of ruining the country, will be enough to counter the lies of the MSM or level heads will prevail and see through the sham!
You will never convince all the USA of any of that.
We don’t have to convince ALL of America, just enough to win the next fixed election in 2024! They’re importing MILLIONS of illegals and registering them ALL to vote so they have 100 Million Democrat body’s to show ID and cast their Ballot and claim it was a “FAIR ELECTION”! We’re going to need 110 Million Body’s to beat them in their fixed election because there’s going to be too many people watching the count and looking for ballot dumping to do it any other way!