Reparations advocate Dr. William Darity recently spoke at the University of Massachusetts Amherst event, where he was asked a question on Black crime.
Darity, the Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy, African and African American Studies, and Economics at Duke University, wasted no time in cutting down the question that seems to suggest the economic issues plaguing the Black community are rooted in Black-on-Black crime.
The event was entitled “Does Everyone Lose from Racism? Insights from Stratification Economics,” and it took place on May 4. The speech was shared on YouTube.
The question: “All right, thanks for coming today. Are there any trends within the Black community, such as higher crime rates or higher illegitimacy rates, that could explain their position vis-a-vis rights and could be explained by some dominant social group?”
Dr. Darity responded, “No,” to which the person asked, “No to the first one or no…”
Darity interrupted and answered, “No to both.”
Darity continued, “There’s a propagandistic mechanism that’s afloat about, you know, Black illegitimacy and Black criminality. I guess it depends on what kind of crime you have in mind.”
Darity went on to talk about white crime. “If we think about which community in the United States has the highest degree of history of violence, that’s unquestionably white Americans, unquestionably. I mean, I’m not sure if you’re aware of the hundred massacres that were conducted between the end of the Civil War and World War II that were directed against Black communities throughout the United States in which thousands of Blacks were killed, and the white terrorists appropriated Black-owned property. So there’s no segment of the population that has a greater history of violence than white Americans. So when you talk about these kinds of matters to me, you’re actually mouthing a set of propagandistic claims that are made on the right in the United States, and they do not have a foundation, in fact.”
What the questioner failed to realize was the complex nature of Black criminality, which is what Darity pointed out in his response.
In a report by the Vera Institute of Justice titled “An Unjust Burden: The Disparate Treatment of Black Americans in the Criminal Justice System” authors Elizabeth Hinton, Le Shae Henderson, and Cindy Reed analyze a variety of research in order to provide a succinct overview of institutional racism and its effect on crime.
“Black men comprise about 13 percent of the male population, but about 35 percent of those incarcerated. One in three Black men born today can expect to be incarcerated in his lifetime, compared to one in six Latino men and one in 17 white men,” the report reads. It added, “Black women are similarly impacted: one in 18 Black women born in 2001 is likely to be incarcerated sometime in her life, compared to one in 111 white women.”
Problem is that people use these stats to say Blacks commit more crime, but the report noted such a belief is rooted in the unconscious or conscious belief that Black people are more prone to criminal behavior, Nonprofit Quarterly reported.
The coauthors note that a combination of “disparity in the enforcement of seemingly race-neutral laws,” along with “bias by decision-makers at all stages of the justice process,” account for the disproportionate criminalization of Black people, further exacerbated by their greater likelihood of living in “concentrated poverty.”
The report also tackles the concept of “Black-on-Black crime,” a term the report said has “been weaponized by the media to stoke portrayals of rampant violence within the Black community and even as a way to discredit protests against police brutality.”
The authors of the report stress that intraracial violence among Black people is actually no greater than intraracial violence among other groups, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. But crime is measured in a way that focuses primarily on low-income communities of color, which feeds the myth of the prevalence of “Black-on-Black crime.”
Darity’s response to the question was praised on social media, with one person tweeting, “Cracka asked about Black crime rates and Sandy Darity brought that smoke. White Americans have the “Highest degree of history of violence.”
Another tweeted, “There are many things you’re gonna do if you’re a fool. Play in Sandy Darity’s face with a YouTube comment is not one of them. I abeg.”
Dr. William Darity, YouTube screenshot, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PytHIKzs044