Over the years we have become accustomed to the black lives matter slogan. Depressingly, it seems that little has changed. Lip service is paid, a cop or two is fired and then everything goes back to the normal status quo. Not this time it would appear.
Racism in all its forms is just plain wrong, must be punished at every turn and should be wiped out, along with sexism, ageism and all forms of discrimination and most others isms. Easier said than done and certainly in the States it would appear that direct violent action is their only remaining option - and remember, this is a country that boasted a black President for eight years who, to be frank, did absolutely nothing to ease the situation. If a black President fails to change anything what hope have we got with the current tango’d moron that sits in the oval office!
The problems in the US spread around the world like a virus and we now see leakage into the UK’s colonial past, with the destruction of statues, the renaming of streets and buildings and total carnage and violence on our streets.
Regarding the shameful killing of George Floyd, some consideration should be given to the police who have to deal with the appalling street violence in so many US cities. I lived in the States for six years and l saw it first hand, time and time again. Some of the cops are stone cold racists and should be routed out, fired and, in some cases, jailed but what they go through day in, day out is eye-opening, and many are just plain terrified every single day they start up the cruiser - as would l be.
Take George Floyd - a man represent- ed by his friends and family as a gentle giant who would not hurt a fly. Well, one look at his arrest record changes that.
2007- Aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon
2002- Giving false details to the police
2001- Failure to identify
1998- Theft with violence
1998- Theft from person
And so it goes on. The 2007 case, for which he was jailed, resulted in him ramming a loaded gun into the stomach of a pregnant women, having broken into her home, and threatening her if she did not tell him where her valuables were. George Floyd was 6’4” and built like a professional boxer. On the day he was arrested and murdered, his system was awash with Fentanyl, cannabis and methamphetamine, strong mind altering drugs. He also had heart disease, hypertension and sickle cell disease and, ironically, was positive for Covid-19.
Nothing here lends itself to justifying his brutal and inhuman death but many cops are absolutely terrified every singe day. In 2018, 47 cops were gunned down whilst in the course of their duties with an average age of 37 years.
Then we had another shocking murder by a cop against Rayshard Brooks the following week, who was shot in the back three times whilst running from police. Murder for sure but why did he run? He ran to escape the warrants out for his arrest. In 2014, he was arrested for a ‘vehicle incident’; 2014, a violation for an offence with a gun; 2015, he fired his weapon but no action was taken and his most recent arrest was whilst he was drunk or drugged and was passed out cold in his car in the middle of a drive-thru. When he had finished beating the living daylights out of the cops trying to cuff him, he stole a taser and whilst running turned and fired it at the cop.
Again, nothing here justifies his death and the cop should be done for murder but this claim of innocent poor black guys going about their lawful lives is a massive misrepresentation of the facts.
So, is this a problem with black men being violent criminals or is the entire system slanted against them? It’s important to note that black men commit nearly half of all murders in the States, which is astounding when you take into consideration the fact that they only make up 12.5% of the population.
Black men are disproportionately likely to commit homicide and to be the victims. In 2008 the offending rate for black men was seven times higher than for whites and the victimisation rate was six times higher.
As we found out, 93% of black victims were killed by black attackers and 84% of white victims were killed by whites. Alternative statistics from the FBI are more up to date but include many crimes where the killer’s race is not recorded. These numbers tell a similar story.
In 2013, the FBI has black criminals carrying out 38% of murders, compared to 31.1% for whites. The offend- er’s race was “unknown” in 29.1% of cases. What about violent crime more generally? FBI arrest rates are one way into this. Over the last three years of data – 2011 to 2013 – 38.5% of people arrested for murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault were black. Clearly, these figures are problematic. We’re talking about arrests not convictions, and high black arrest rates could be taken as evidence that the police are racist.
So why are black offenders – and young black men in particular – over-represented in America’s crime statistics? Judging from research, there is a wide spectrum of views on this, from unapologetic racism to militant refusal to blame the problem on anything but historic white racism.
Some criminologists think we could be simply confusing race for poverty or inequality: black people tend to offend more because they tend to be more disadvantaged, living in poorer urban areas with less access to public services. A study of violent crime in deprived neighbourhoods in Cleveland, Ohio, found that reductions in poverty led to reductions in the crime rate in exactly the same way in predominantly black and white areas, suggesting poverty, not race, is the biggest factor. And surely this is the deciding factor? Then add in institutional racism and you have the heady mix that led to the recent murders.
Cops suspect black men of being more likely to be the villain, as demonstrated by this recollection by Professor John J. Dilulio from New York: "Once when I was unloading 100-pound flour bags at a downtown pizzeria where I worked, the cops came zooming up the sidewalk, got out of their cruiser, and pushed my pal and co-worker, Willie Brown, against the wall. They did not touch me. Wil- lie, an illiterate black man then in his forties, had done nothing. I protested, and the cops sped off as quickly as they had come: “Sorry, kid, we got a call that somebody was stealing.” But the only “somebody” they grabbed was the black man, and the only apology they issued was to the white boy”
If you look at the US or the UK, much of the crime is committed by deprived, undereducated people. The ‘underclass’ who have little prospects for the future, are deprived of the opportunities we all take for granted and are destined for a hard life. Imagine how that feels when we all dash past in our shiny new cars, having enjoyed a £200 lunch, on our way to the gym and then the cocktail party that evening whilst planning a three week vacation in the Loire Valley! If l were them, l might well bang you over the head and nick your wallet!
It is my strong belief that the disproportionate crimes commit- ted by black men in the US is NOT caused by their DNA but by the disproportionate number of deprived black families vs white families. The system is tilted against them and has been since they were dragged back to the continent in the bowels of slave ships. It is poverty that must be addressed first. Given the equal opportunities, as Obama demonstrated, your colour would not dictate your position in life.
The UK is not that different. Thank goodness our cops don’t have guns and we are certainly a more advanced society than the US in this regard but a look at the Covid-19 rates across the population is fascinating.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that people from ethnic minority backgrounds are ‘disproportionately’ dying with coronavirus. A number of reviews, including by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Public Health England (PHE), have now concluded that this is the case.
Suggested reasons have included existing health inequalities, housing conditions, public-facing occupations and structural racism. There were at least 3,876 deaths of black and minority ethnic (BAME) individuals in hospitals in England up to June 9th This means that, where ethnicity is known, BAME people represented 15.5% of all deaths to this point.
Some of the highest death and hospitalisation rates during the outbreak have been in London, where 40% of the population are from ethnic minority backgrounds (according to the 2011 census). But even when you adjust for where the coronavirus outbreak has hit hardest, the ONS, the think-tank the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) and PHE, all conclude that people from ethnic minorities are being disproportionately impacted.
This is not because of their race, skin colour or origin, it is due to the fact that BAME citizens are far more likely to work in low paid, customer facing jobs. There are, of course, other factors. While there is no conclusive evidence that minority groups are more at risk from the disease, some are more likely to have certain underlying health conditions.
Black and other ethnic minority individuals make up a large share of jobs considered essential in tackling the virus, many of which are public-facing. One in five people working for the NHS in England, for example, is from an ethnic minority background, and these numbers are even higher when we look solely at doctors and nurses. Black people are more likely to be overweight than white people, while both Asian and black populations have been found to have a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease, according to the IFS. Both of these have been linked to higher coronavirus death rates.
It concludes that:
• Black people are 1.9 times more likely to die compared to white people
• Bangladeshis and Pakistanis are 1.8 times more likely to die
• Indians are around 1.5 times more likely to die
Analysis from PHE showed that once in hospital, people from BAME backgrounds were also more likely to require admission to an intensive care unit. Various factors can play into these health inequalities including socio-economic situation, access to health care and deprivation. It's worth noting that deprivation in general, regardless of ethnicity, appears to play a role.
According to ONS, the death rate in the poorest communities in England and Wales is twice as high as the wealthiest. Issues with self-isolation in larger households could also play a factor. Just under a third of Bangladeshi households are classified as overcrowded, as are 15% of black households, according to government statistics. Only 2% of white British households are classified as overcrowded.
Therefore, it seems obvious that one’s job plays a big role in the infection/crime rate and many jobs are dictated by the level of poverty endured during childhood. Jobs, income and living conditions are generally dictated by education, opportunity and parents background.
Although there is certainly racism rampant across vast swathes of the country, the inclination to believe that more crime is committed by black rather than white criminals is not because of their colour or DNA but due to their socio-economic background. We need to even out our society to ensure that those who have little receive more from those that have most. It surely cannot be right in 2020, that 0.6% of the worlds population owns 39.3% of the wealth whilst the bottom 95% only hold 28.4%. In the US, the top 20% own 77% of all the wealth in the entire country.
This is where the problem is coming from. It is not due to skin colour, it is due to massive inequality caused by historic bias.