Racial tensions have been boiling below the surface in America since the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In recent history, the media has taken a specific interest of racial injustice and alleged police brutality. Celebrities have also become more vocal regarding social issues in America. From Beyoncé’s Super Bowl backlash to Kendrick Lamar’s artistic expression at the Grammy’s, Black artists have taken notice of the concerns of their communities.
With the rise in media coverage of these injustices many conservatives counter with the question “but what about Black on Black Crime?” The Black on Black crime comment is a loaded question because there are so many influences on crime in urban communities. Urban communities that are predominantly Black are densely populated with a higher populace than suburban communities that are predominantly white. Additionally, many Black neighborhoods are over policed due to stereotypical beliefs and the sheer number of people that live within those communities. According to statistics, Blacks are more likely to be arrested, convicted and sentenced than any other race. However, those same statistics would show that Blacks are no more likely to commit crime than whites. Why the disparity?
The criminal justice system has been accused of making a profit from convicting minorities. Recently a judge in Pennsylvania was sentenced to 28 years in prison for accepting bribes from juvenile detention developers and then housing juveniles in those very detention centers. It is not far fetched to assume that this is not the first instance of law enforcement abusing power for financial gain at the expense of a minority group.
An anonymous veteran police officer also shared comments on factors that he felt contributed to the criminalization of African Americans. “Part of doing your job is to locate criminals and to put them in jail. As an officer, you hope that you are making quality arrests.” He went on to say, “I don’t think crime is higher in urban environments. It’s over policing in those environments. The more people you have in a community, the more police you will have assigned and the larger the department. It doesn’t mean that crime isn’t happening in the suburbs.” When asked about Black on Black crime he replied, “People commit crimes against people that they live in close proximity to. Most people aren’t driving to other cities to commit crimes. Titling it Black on Black crime is propaganda to justify the mistreatment of Black people. It paints the picture that Blacks are prone to violence, anger, and physical altercation. This leads to fear.” In response to police brutality he stated, “The media portrays people in a certain way. So an officer that is not from the community in which he or she polices may build their perception from media and react in fear.”
Crime occurs across the country but Black on Black crime is normally brought up to silence those who would dare speak out against brutality. No one ever mentions white on white crime or Asian on Asian crime. Crime among other communities is simply crime no matter where or to whom it occurs. We must begin to treat all Americans as citizens instead of crime probabilities.