Why Are Black People So Nonviolent? And Why Aren’t Whites?

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If hate were a sport, I’d bet on white.

Really. We’re good at it.

White people have been hating, brutalizing and killing people way more effectively than black people for – well – ever.

Don’t be modest, Caucasians. The Holocaust, ethnic cleansing, colonization of Africa and the Caribbean, American slavery, Native American Genocide, Jim Crow – we’re the world freakin’ champions!

But somehow in the media it’s the black man who is portrayed as the savage.

It’s just not fair. We white folks are so much better at race-based aggression than our darker complected brothers.

Just this Wednesday a white guy walked into a historic African American Church in South Carolina, was accepted as part of the service, stayed for about an hour before shouting a spiteful message and gunning down several parishioners!

Now that’s some hate right there!

But at first the people on my TV refused to give us white folks credit. They were questioning everything from the killer’s motives to his race! As if this had to be a black man in white face persecuting the faithful! Not some kind of hate crime!

Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that the media narrative always runs counter to the truth of the violent white man and in favor of the myth of the savage black man.

Whenever anyone brings up race and violence, the first thing people mention is crime.

There is more black-on-black crime than white-on-black crime, they say. And they’re correct!

According to a 2013 FBI Uniform Crime Report, when it comes to murder, 90 percent of black victims were killed by black offenders.

However, what people fail to mention is that according to the very same report, 83 percent of white victims were killed by white offenders, too.

These numbers don’t show black people are more violent than white people. They show that BOTH white and black people would rather kill within their own race.

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In terms of raw numbers, black people and white people actually commit about the same number of murders. But you wouldn’t know that from the media.

I don’t know why these media types aren’t wringing their hands over the spurt of white violence in this country instead of spending valuable broadcasting minutes exclusively on black people.

You’d almost think they were biased or something, trying to spin the truth, tell you a story that wasn’t entirely factual.

And speaking of bad arguments, this one has suddenly shifted.

We started talking about race-based aggression and we suddenly shifted to all violence. Let’s get back to hate crimes, because that’s really the area where white people excel.

The FBI is charged under the Hate Crime Statistics Act with compiling statistics on spite-based legal transgressions. In its most recent report, for 2013, hate crimes based on race are far more numerous than any other kind.

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Moreover, bias-motivated infractions against black folks far exceed those against white people.

According to the FBI statistics, 54.5 percent of the reported single-bias hate crimes that were racially motivated in 2013 targeted blacks. Only 16.3% target whites.

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But you really didn’t need an FBI report to tell you that, did you? American history is littered with the bodies of beaten and brutalized people of color. You could make a very convincing argument that these dead souls make up the foundation of our country. Would our economy really have been so robust without the free labor of all those slaves? Heck! Would we even have a country at all if we hadn’t murdered all those indigenous peoples in the first place?

I know. You’re going to say that other predominately white countries have violent histories, too. And you’d be right. But notice the difference in our attitudes about it today!

Historically, Germany is no slacker when it comes to racial violence, but is there any government building in the German Republic today that continues to fly a Nazi flag? Absolutely not. In fact, it is illegal to do so.

By contrast, in America we love the stars and bars of the Confederate flag. It still waves proudly over the South Carolina capital building. (But I’m sure that has nothing to do with the violence we saw at that Charleston church I mentioned earlier!)

So let’s put it to rest. When it comes to hate crimes, white folks kill! But don’t feel too bad, black folks. There are things you’re good at, too. Like nonviolent resistance.

Heck! You’re amazing at that!

Langston Hughes wrote, “Negroes – Sweet and docile, Meek, humble, and kind: Beware the day – They change their mind.”

After all this time, black people have very rarely used violence as a means to achieve their ends, to try to secure the rights and freedoms white America guards so jealously.

In just the past year or so, unarmed black folks have been assaulted or killed for holding toy guns, being suspected of selling loose cigarettes, listening to music at a gas station, asking for help after a car accident, wearing hoodies, wearing bikinis, running, and now just going to church!

And the response from the black community has been pretty darn nonviolent. Yeah there’s been some shouting and looting, but very little beating or killing.

White folks, can you imagine having to undergo such indignity on a daily basis and NOT responding in kind!?

No wonder a blonde white girl from a Christian fundamentalist home darkened her skin, curled her hair and tried to pass as black! Sometimes – often really – it’s darn embarrassing to be white! Black folks have the moral high ground.

Somehow they live in an American society that heaps hatred on their every move and they respond with dignity and perseverance.

So why are black people so nonviolent?

Damned if I know! But I wish us white folks would take a lesson from them.


NOTE: This article also was published on the Badass Teachers Association blog.


 

UPDATE: There has been a criticism of this article I’d like to address. I have claimed, “In terms of raw numbers, black people and white people actually commit about the same number of murders.” Some say this works against my argument that black people are less violent than white people. After all, there are fewer black people in the country, yet they commit about the same number of murders as white people. Doesn’t that make them more violent?

 

I think if you factor in poverty, the numbers wash. After all, poor people are generally more violent than those in better circumstances. Since most black people experience higher levels of poverty than most white people, we can only expect higher proportions of murders from them. When your options are limited between working several minimum wage jobs to squeak by or to engage in the drug trade for a higher income bracket, well it’s not surprising. If black folks weren’t subjected to such high poverty rates, we would expect the black murder rate to plummet.

 

I know some readers won’t accept that answer. And if so, fine. However, this doesn’t affect at all my assertion that black people commit a fraction of the country’s hate crimes. Whether you look at it proportionately or numerically, white folks are MUCH more likely to commit hate crimes than black folks. I think that’s significant.

 

However, I have received enough correspondence from readers of this article to know that many don’t care. This article has been surprisingly popular. It still gets hundreds of hits every week. Unfortunately, many of the people who seem to find it appear to be those with an axe to grind. WordPress allows me to see what readers type into a search engine to find this article. I can see what sites lead you here. I know that white supremacists and far right conservatives are loving this article as an example of “liberal, white self hate.” The responses to this article in some of the darker corners of the Internet have been as hilarious as they are badly argued. It appears that some people are so committed to the idea that black people are violent that nothing anyone says could convince them otherwise. Moreover, they are so enamored with white violence that they see it as evidence of white superiority or else they try to argue it away as being perpetrated by people who are not truly white.

 

To those people I have only pity. Love is stronger than hate. I honestly hope that one day you will understand.

 

 

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18 thoughts on “Why Are Black People So Nonviolent? And Why Aren’t Whites?

  1. “There are Lies, damned lies and statistics”. I don’t see how this article is in any way fair, and certainly not in its stand-alone form. Some people are good, some people are not. It is rarely as simple as saying black people are non- violent, whereas white people are. I am really surprised that an educator would post this one- sided account as being representative of the whole truth. This strikes me as inverted Racism and it doesn’t do the cause any good at all. And if the author perceives this as the whole truth it is an insult to the thousands of white people who have not a grain of racism in their hearts or minds, yet still feels proud of the white ancestry s/he is from. I think BATs need to be careful of posting such a one sided, wholly over simplified account. Most black people are gentle, peaceful and altruistic. However that equally goes for white people. By damning our own race and ancestral heritage, I cannot see what is achieved. It is not a sign of being non- racist to put your own people down.

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    • White people have a problem. We are responsible for racism. It is our people who perpetuate that system. Moreover, as I tried to point out here, white people commit way more hate crimes against black people than vice versa. It’s not prejudice to point that out. That’s what the FBI tells us is true. I’m sorry this bothers you so much. It bothers me, too. Perhaps instead of attacking the messenger you should help me in spreading this truth and dedicate yourself to stopping the problem.

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      • You’re calling Dylan roof “my people” because we’re both white? Get out of my face. My people are my family and friends, not dickbags from sc who share my skin pigmentation.

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      • You’re an idiot. Go walk into a black neighborhood and see how long you last before you’re attacked. It’s morons like you that turn a blind eye to any black on white hate crimes and you only focus on the rare white on black crimes. Since you’re so self hating, why don’t you do us all a favor and check out of the planet. Then there will be one less “white devil” such as yourself.

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      • Steve, do you really believe black people attack any white person walking through their neighborhood? Sadly, there was a time when I probably believed something similar. I remember stopping in a black neighborhood, getting out of my car and a black teen walked up to me looking like an extra from “Boyz in the Hood.” I thought I was dead, then he spoke: “Hey, Mr. Singer!” I’ve been to black neighborhoods many times and have rarely met a more welcoming and friendly people. They might not have much, but they share whatever they have. You need to confront your own preconceptions. Try actually talking to a black person sometime. You’ll be surprised. They’re human, too!

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    • TurtleBoySports, I don’t want to claim him either. But American society groups us together. It privileges us and puts black people at a disadvantage. That’s why it’s up to white folks to speak up and work to dismantle the racist system. It’s our heritage. It’s our responsibility.

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  2. you interpreted the figure 19 graph wrong. It’s just showing percent of homicides. Take it out of 100 homicides. If 45% were black on black and 40% white on white, that means 45 homicides were black on black, and 40 white on white. It has nothing to do with the total population of Caucasians. It’s just percent of total homicides.

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    • You’re right. The total number of homicides committed by black and white people is very similar. I will revise the article to reflect that. However, it does not affect my main point about hate crimes. Thanks for pointing that out.

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      • You do see that black on white homicides is double white on black homicides. “The black victimization rate (27.8 per 100,000) was six times higher than the white victimization rate (4.5 per 100,000). Black offending rate (34.4 per 100,000) was almost eight times higher than whites (4.5 per 100,000), according to the report.” ( https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2014/11/25/giulianis-claim-that-93-percent-of-blacks-are-killed-by-other-blacks/ )

        The reason the number of homicides looks similar is because its not based on population. Blacks kill more due to economical and cultural issues,
        my hypothesis on why blacks kill more white per capita is based on the fact that there is more whites in the population just making it more likely, so its not really racial based its just statistics.

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  3. I feel that your article is brilliant.

    I don’t think Caucasian people really understand what it is like to experience racism or that we take our white privilege for granted without even really realizing we are doing it. I don’t understand it myself, but I do empathize with people of color and I am passionate about equality and justice. In fact, I’m working on my graduate degree in the area of Equality, Ethics and Justice in Education.

    The only way to heal our nation of this disease of institutional racism, or any problem for that matter, is to finally admit that we do have a problem. We need to have these conversations. We need to stop acting like everything is just fine as it is. We need to stop being offended by every notion that disagrees with our own worldview.

    And lastly, I wish we would stop saying things like Black Lives Matter. Yes, of course, Black lives matter. But the more we classify and objectify human beings, the more we separate them from us. Long ago, when the Europeans wanted to get rid of and take over land that was inhabited by native peoples, they began calling them “savages.” The reason is because it was easier to kill savages than to kill human beings. All we do now is redefine our savages. Instead of savages, they are called slaves, or crack whores, or welfare mamas, or criminals. Its all the same idea. It’s easier to kill or punish or oppress a slave, or a crack whore, or a welfare mama or a criminal than to it is to kill or punish or oppress a human being. We need to have the hashtag HUMAN LIVES MATTER. We need to stop dehumanizing and objectifying those who are different than we are and insist that all are referred to as HUMANS. If we considered humans human, even those who are different in beliefs, or lifestyle, or gender, or sexual orientation, or income, or race or whatever differentiates us, then we might have a harder time hating them. And it might be harder time going into their church buildings and killing them. Or calling them names. Or denying them basic human rights and dignity.

    I’m going to write my own blog post on this now that I’m a role…so thanks for your inspiration.

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  4. Steve. Thanks for speaking the truth. Sometimes the truth hurts, but history do tell a true story. Just keep searching and his-story will fall apart.

    Like

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