A widely debunked meme continues circulating online. It makes the racist case that “black” Lives Matter is fake news. This meme offers a table of “statistics” that, when cursorily examined, begs the question: if “black” lives matter, why are so many “blacks” killing “black” people?
It argues further that cops kill few “black” people, compared to “white” people, although even the total number of “whites” cops kill is tiny.
The point: #BLM making a big deal about people killed by cops makes a massive racial mountain out of a George Floyd mole hill.
The meme next claims the vast majority of “white” people killed are killed by “black” people, and that “white” people kill hardly anyone by comparison. Especially “black” people.
This meme finds itself everywhere tweeted by anyone agreeing that “all lives matter”. Even the president tweeted it. Most recently, a friend of ours found this meme in her Facebook messenger feed. Someone with university credentials sent it unaccompanied by context or personal commentary.
Racism is literally built into the United States’ DNA. Anyone disagreeing with this doesn’t understand how the United States got formed, the compromises made during its formation, or how nearly every institution formed since then contains structural racial bias based on our nation’s original founding.
But this post isn’t about US history or race.
What it is about is setting the record straight on relevant US crime statistics, then asking, and perhaps answering why such disinformation keeps the US (and the world) exactly where it is: mired in decadence, a culture steeped in racism and systems that don’t function if people aren’t in debt, or aren’t forced to earn a living.
What’s accurate about these numbers?
In a word: nothing.
First, we can’t really understand these numbers unless we look at other numbers for comparison. For example, according to the United States Census, there are 330 million people in the United States. Of those:
- 76 percent are “white” or 197 million people.
- 13 percent are “black” or 42 million people.
For clarification, there is no such thing as a “white” person or a “black” person. These terms got made up as bogus distinguishers then amplified in Racist America so rich people at the time could concentrate power and divide the colonial poor and indentured.
So successful that strategy, “white” and “black” today are endemic to nearly everything American. They divide people who have far more in common by any measure than they do differences, which is why we see over 60 million mixed race marriages, to say nothing of mixed race pairings, mixed race poly relationships and hook ups, mixed race gay couples, married or not, mixed race friendships and neighborhoods, etc.
More specifically to the meme, numbers of mixed race marriages between “black” and “white” people continue to grow. Between 1980 and 2009, for example, such marriages increased from 167 thousand to over a half a million.
As pervasive and enduring as they are, the concepts “black” and “white” are empty in significance other than when trying to socially and economically divide overwhelming numbers of people who have nearly everything in common other than, perhaps, the amount of melanin in their skin.
Back to context: Knowing what percentage of “blacks” and “whites” make up the total US population is important, otherwise numbers of killings represented in any presentation make no sense. In other words, context reveals a number’s value.
So we have 330 million Americans. Over 70 percent of them are “white”. Thirteen percent are “black”.
Many already debunked the meme’s source. So rather than using that source or its numbers, we prefer the FBI’s crime statistics from 2016, which are the latest figures to our knowledge.
Here are those numbers. If you subscribe to the meme’s numbers, these actual numbers will shock you.
- “Blacks” killed by whites: 243, or 8 percent of the 2870 “blacks” killed according to the FBI
- “Whites” killed by whites: 2854 or 81 percent of the 3499 “whites” killed according to the FBI
- “Whites” killed by blacks: 533 or 15 percent of the 3499 “whites” killed, and over 2X the number of “blacks” killed by “whites” according to the FBI
- “Blacks” killed by blacks: 2570 or 89 percent of the 2870 “blacks” killed according to the FBI
Shedding light on bogosity
What’s interesting is almost the same number of “white” people are being killed as the number of blacks. “White”-on-“white” murder and “black”-on-“black” murder is roughly similar, at 81 percent and 89 percent respectively, meaning neither “whites” nor “blacks” kill more people than the other category. “White” people murder. “Black” people murder.
It’s true, “black” people killed almost double the number of “white” people as “white” people killed “black” people, 15 percent vs 8 percent, respectively. But these percentages are far, far different than the circulating meme shows. And compared to the national population, these numbers are staggeringly small. True mole hills.
And yet it’s clear more “white” people kill FAR MORE “white” people than “black” people and more “black” people kill FAR MORE “black” people than “white” people. These numbers aren’t a trifle. Thousands of people are being murdered. The murderer’s skin tone? Irrelevant.
Besides, more interesting interpretations shine through the FBI data than what race is killing who and how many each are killing.
For example, it’s extremely interesting that the number of “black” people killed and the number of “white” people killed, is generally the same with roughly 600 more “whites” killed than blacks. This shows once again that difference among “whites” and “blacks” isn’t all that different. People share more in common than what differentiates them: even when it comes to being murdered, “black” people and “white” people are more similar than not. Roughly the same number are killed by someone. Those killing them, by far, share the victim’s skin color.
Another fascinating revelation comes when these crime stats get put in context of the national population. Remember “white” people comprise over 70 percent of the total US total population. “Black” people represent just over 10 percent. Viewed from that understanding, the following conclusion could be drawn:
Since there are so many fewer “black” people in the US, you would expect far fewer murders of “blacks” than whites. After all, far more “whites” populate the US than “blacks”, so it seems rational to think far more “whites” should get murdered in the US than “blacks”.
What the numbers show instead is, even though only 13 percent of the population is “black”, “black” people comprise nearly half the number of people murdered in the US according to the FBI. You would also be excused thinking “if blacks represent 13 percent of the population, doesn’t it seem odd that the number of blacks killed by whites is half the number of whites killed by blacks?” In other words, it seems disproportional that so many blacks are killed by whites, compared to the number of whites killed by blacks, when blacks only make up 13 percent of the national population, and the number of whites make up over 70 percent.
And this is the reason so many people, “white” and “black”, argue that something disproportionate is happening in the US when it comes to Americans labeled “black”.
All Lives Matter
Looking at the real numbers from the FBI, it’s true “All Lives [should] Matter”: for as many “whites” are dying as “blacks”. As we’ve shown so far though, this shouldn’t be the case given the tiny percentage of “blacks” compared to the number of “white” people. There should be way more “white” people getting killed, or rather way fewer “blacks” getting killed, because there are so few “black” Americans proportionally speaking.
That said, what do the FBI numbers tell us about run-ins with police?
The meme claims, and we’re quoting: “blacks” killed by police — 1 percent”. But that number makes no sense because it has no context. Is it 1 percent of the entire US population? Is it 1 percent of the people killed by police? The same question applies to the meme’s claim about “white” people killed by police: “whites” killed by police — 3 percent. Three percent of what?
Given “blacks” and “whites” make up over 80 percent of the US population, it seems mathematically illogical that the number of “whites” and “blacks” killed by police total only four percent. We can’t logically contextualize these percentages. The US population is over 300 million people.
Maybe these are percentages of all the “whites” and “blacks” killed. So of the 2870 “blacks” killed, police killed one percent of them, according to the meme. Police also killed 3 percent of the 3499 “white” people.
The problem with our generosity here is, the meme isn’t using FBI numbers. We don’t know what data it is based on. So we can’t say.
This is why contextualizing numbers means so much. Without the context, numbers and percentages make no sense. It’s important too to be transparent with data sets, so critical thinking readers can see where the numbers came from.
The problem is, many readers aren’t thinking critically when they read. If the reader isn’t thinking critically while reading, anything can make sense because the reader isn’t trying to make sense of anything!
For example, examining circumstances under which police kill “whites” and “blacks” might be revealing. They will show, as we’ve said before, that the number of “blacks” killed by police is disproportionate, meaning they kill a disproportionate number of “blacks” compared to “whites”. They also will show that circumstances under which police kill “black” people tend to be questionable.
For example, statistica, a global, highly reputable data collection and research organization, recently published statistics on the incidence of police shootings according to race. Here’s what they discovered: while the number of “whites” killed by the police is higher year over year, the rate of people shot to death by police is overwhelmingly disproportionate to “black” people.
The real numbers don’t lie
The numbers shared through this meme not only mean nothing, they are HIGHLY INACCURATE, MISLEADING and DANGEROUS when exposed to a non-critical-thinking public. Someone who doesn’t understand how to communicate with numbers cobbled together a bunch of made up percentages in support of divisive intentions. Then they released them on a population famous for its non-critical consumption and sharing of information. You may be a member of this population.
The facts are there is no significant difference between people when trying to distinguish them by skin color other than the following: Most people, the vast majority of people, classifiable by skin color as “white” enjoy power, wealth, status and freedoms far above levels people not classifiable by that bogus distinction enjoy.
The reason these people enjoy this factual upper hand status is because some of their ancestors, using their power, wealth, status and freedoms at the time, structured society so that it favors this group of people over others.
Put more divisively, they structured society to disadvantage people who don’t look like them in order to have power over them.
Ironically, that structural favoritism stems from insecurity. The same insecurity that has some very light brown skinned people scared when they see brown and dark brown skinned people demand what they haven’t gotten for so long.
The good news is, it’s not necessary for those who enjoy privilege today, to become tomorrow’s less privileged. This is why Copiosis is so important. It’s the only system we’re aware of that preserves every dominant culture privilege with the exception of one:
The ability to define their privilege through a system that structurally denies privilege from those the dominant culture incorrectly perceives are different from them, and somehow therefore inferior, and because of that, not worthy of enjoying what the dominant culture enjoys.