Monday, April 19, 2021

Whose Responsibility?

An exasperated Chris Cuomo, frustrated by what he believes is a lack of concern in white America about police slayings of black youth, on Friday remarked

......You don't like it. I don't like. It scares me. Shootings, gun laws, access to weapons? Oh, I know when they'll change. Your kids start getting killed, White people's kids, start getting killed, smoking that doobie that's actually legal, probably in your state now, but they don't know what it was, and then the kid runs, and then "Pop! Pop! Pop! Pop!" Cop was justified.

"Why'd you run?" "Oh, he had a baseball game tonight." "Oh? White kid? Oh, big family, that house over there?" Those start piling up, "What is going on with these police? Oh, what? Maybe we shouldn't even have police!" That kind of mania, that kind of madness, that'll be you. That'll be the majority, because it's your people.

See, now Black people start getting all guns, forming militias, protect themselves? "Can't trust Deep State!" Whoo-whoo! You'll see a wave of change, in access and accountability. We saw it in the 60s. That's when it changes, because that's when it's you.

According to a report released six months ago by researchers at Yale and the University of Pennsylvania

Using information from a national database compiled and maintained by The Washington Post, researchers found that victims identifying as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC), whether armed or unarmed, had significantly higher death rates compared with whites. And those numbers remained relatively unchanged from 2015 to May 2020.

Cuomo has a point about black youth and "white people's kids" because the average age for white victims is 38 while for black victims it is only 30. (No explanation was attempted for this discrepancy.) But then the numbers sighted by the Yale communications professional, Brita Belli, are all but incomprehensible: She writes

In an analysis of 4,653 fatal shootings for which information about both race and age were available, the researchers found a small but statistically significant decline in white deaths (about 1%) but no significant change in deaths for BIPOC. There were 5,367 fatal police shootings during that five-year period, according to the Post’s database. In the case of armed victims, Native Americans were killed by police at a rate three times that of white people (77 total killed). Black people were killed at 2.6 times the rate of white people (1,265 total killed); and Hispanics were killed at nearly 1.3 times the rate of white people (889 total killed). Among unarmed victims, Black people were killed at three times the rate (218 total killed), and Hispanics at 1.45 times the rate of white people (146 total killed).

So we have the numbers for 4,653 deaths. However, armed victims are broken down into Native Americans, blacks, and Hispanics; for unarmed victimes, the numbers are given for only blacks and Hispanics. For unarmed victims, numbers are given for blacks and Hispanics, absent for Native Americans. For neither are there numbers for the Asian/Pacific Islander community.

(Also, "Hispanics" are either the wrong classfication or wrong term because it includes individuals of Spanish, and excludes individuals of Brazilian, heritage; "Latinos" would be more appropriate.)

The raw numbers (as against percentages) presented indicate that of 4,653 deaths, there were 2518 among blacks and Hispanics; 77+ among Native Americans; and an unknown, probably very small number among the AAPI population.  That would leave 2135 among others, undoubtedly the vast majority of them white.

That number is suspect because if the rate of shooting fatalities among blacks is only 2.6 times (armed) or 3 times (unarmed) of whites, the deaths among whites would be more than the raw totals indicate. Even now, far more than half of us living in the USA are non-Hispanic/non-Latino white.

Whatever the numbers, the underlying facts are simple: 1) a disproportionate number of fatalities of police shootings are of a minority group, most of them black; and 2) a heck of a lot of  victims are white.

As pertains to Cuomo's argument, there are two underlying facts: 1) a very much disproportionate number of the fatalities of young people are black; and 2) a heck of a lot of even the young victims are white.

That means simply that Cuomo is wrong- dead wrong, pun intended- in an ironic manner.  Whether we are aware intellectually that lots of white youth have been, are are being, killed by police officers, we don't feel that they are.

We don't sense it because we don't see it. The news media, for a wealth of reasons justified and unjustified, prefer covering the homicides by police of blacks, and of youth.  Those of whites, particularly among those who aren't young, often are reported but during fewer news cycles. They become news, then fade from the news.

It is because of video. Some killings are shown on what appear to be endless loops and thus have a major impact on viewers, especially in contemporary circumstances in which people (especially low-information individuals) are unfortunately more likely to believe what they see than what they read in reputable news outlets.

There can be no better example than the brutal killing of George Floyd, which we saw.... and saw... and saw... and are still seeing, thanks both to traditional broadcast media and social media. That resulted in an extraordinary outpouring of protesters which was starkly absent in any of those other instances in which a police officer unjustifiably killed a black person.

If we read, we may care. If we see, we usually see it often, and we care. And so Andrew Cuomo is right, and he's wrong.  He's wrong when he implies that black youth are almost routinely killed by police who never kill white youth.

He is right, however, that if the public saw white kids being killed by police, there would be an insistence upon police reform. It is happening, but it is de-emphasized.

Yet, he does not recognize- or won't acknowledge- the irony that he is complaining. It is not up to "your people" (as Cuomo describes whites) to show the homicides. It is he who is on the primiest of the prime time hour- 9:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. Eastern- on one of the three major networks.

 "My job is to show you in" the shooting of young blacks, Chris Cuomo notes. If he wants the white public to focus attention on police abuse, it's time for his network- and the others- to show us additional shootings by police, ones not limited by race or color.


Share |

No comments:

On a Positive Note, It's What He Believes

During the War of 1812, Master Commandant Oliver Perry wrote to Major General William Henry Harrison " we have met the enemy and they ...