“Justifiable” White Violence And The History Of The Criminalization Of Blackness

We must, all of us, insist that one life in this country doesn’t have more value than another.
By @drRhymes |
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    There has been a long and troubled history in this country of making righteous white violence and intimidation, while criminalizing skin color — especially as it pertains to black and brown people. White violence and intimidation is usually bathed in declarations of patriotism and dried off with the American flag. And when it can’t be thus sanctified, the rationale becomes some sort of mental phenomena or illness, divorced from any sort of “ethnic group” pathology.


    A long history of “legal” oppression

    Kill the savage, enslave the beast and loot the Mexican brute are notions all soaked, washed and rinsed in Manifest Destiny and the White Man’s burden. The Confederate flag, long a representation of oppression for blacks, is dry-cleaned — to continue the laundry metaphor — by Southern pride and tradition. Mind you, it is usually those who cling to that symbol of American division and death who deride the American Muslim woman for wearing a hijab — as if tradition and pride are reserved for a certain privileged ethnic group.

    This narrative of law enforcement’s hostility toward and over-policing of the black community is a dynamic that goes back further than the founding of this nation itself. As far back as 1671, South Carolina had put together a watch group consisting of regular constables and citizen volunteers to guard Charles Town against potential problems — “problems” that included slave gatherings. In the 1700s, South Carolina established slave patrols meant to control and police slaves. By 1785, South Carolina had integrated the slave patrols into the Charleston Guard and Watch. Some consider this the first modern police department, as this force was authorized by Charleston to use force, had enforcement responsibilities, was the city’s primary law enforcement agency, and had an established chain of command.

    In post-Civil War America, as outlined by Nancy Maclean in “Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Second Making of the Ku Klux Klan,” “The Ku Klux Klan’s strategy of white dominance included Klan members serving on police forces. Southern white police officers helped to reassert white control by enforcing the pass system, which required blacks to carry a pass and present it on demand.”

    This point was expounded upon in Sally E. Hadden’s “Slave Patrols: Law and Violence in Virginia and the Carolinas”: “All niggers that did not have a paper from their master, showing that they were employees, must be taken to jail and hired out for 5 dollars per month.”

    All of this points to a history among American law enforcement of considering blacks problems to be solved and threats to be neutralized and/or eliminated. And that history is inextricably linked to the current atmosphere of police aggression against black citizens across this country.


    The black-on-black crime boogeyman

    In the weeks since Ferguson, we have heard white — and more than a few black — voices ask, “Why don’t blacks address black-on-black crime with the same ferocity that they have in Ferguson?” It is rarely an honest question, and it usually designed to get one off of the subjects of police brutality, racial profiling and/or the shooting death of an unarmed black male. (This, by the way, is not all that dissimilar from how Israel uses the Hamas canard to try and quiet those who question its policy in regard to Palestine.)

    This question ignores several things, however, the first of which is that there have been marches, rallies and vigils in a number of cities — including Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia — regarding gun violence in the black community. The twisted irony is that the news organization that most vociferously asks the question — hint: its name rhymes with “box” — never gets around to covering those rallies, marches and vigils. Like every other corporate news entity, the network goes with the story that will get the ratings, the sales or the hits.

    Further, the black-on-black crime question ignores the fact that protest is limited in its ability to impact all of the problems which contribute to violence in predominantly black communities. The issues of concentrated poverty (which has worsened in the past 50 years), school closings and substandard education, high unemployment, the closing of neighborhood grocery stores, and the institutional as well as the systemic racism have made a great deal of those things possible. These cannot merely be solved by protests; they must be, to a larger extent, solved by an actual implemented and executable plan — on both the micro and macro levels.

    Additionally, the question almost completely disregards the obvious reality that every ethnic group, overwhelmingly, perpetrates violence against those within the same ethnic group. For example, 83 percent of whites are killed by whites. People who assault and kill usually do so to those who are in close proximity to them, and because we are more segregated as a society than we like to think, the victim and the offender, by a significant percentage, tend to be connected phenotypically.

    Lastly, mentioning what is called black-on-black crime in the same sentence as law enforcement killing unarmed blacks links the two experiences in the way the propagators of such a line never intended. What the comparison says is that we should expect no different from police officers than we do felons on the street; it says that the badge doesn’t operate from a higher moral code than murderers and violent offenders; and it says, contrary to Stan Lee, that with great power, there isn’t great responsibility.

    Since 2009, there have been 17 shooting incidents between anti-government extremists and law enforcement. In 2010, a father and son sovereign citizen tag team shot and killed two Arkansas police officers during a traffic stop. In California, another extremist who didn’t believe the laws of the land applied to him shot and injured two state troopers. And in Texas, which usually can be counted on for some form of radical behavior in regard to the federal government, an individual tried to kill two sheriff’s deputies. Sadly, these are only some of the incidents that have ended in death and bloodshed.

    On April 12, 2014 a group of protesters, known by some as the “Liberty Movement,” gathered at the Cliven Bundy ranch in Nevada. Hundreds of these “protesters” were armed, and they essentially stared down the U.S. government with guns aimed at federal agents. Those who would speak of the looting that was done by a select few in Ferguson fail to consider the over $1 million in taxes that Bundy still owes for grazing fees.

    One of those 17 shooting incidents between homegrown extremists and police is the April 2009 shootout between Richard Poplawski and Pittsburgh police. Poplawski killed 3 officers and wounded a fourth. Another is the June 2014 killing of two Las Vegas police officers by Jerad and Amanda Miller — a couple who had spent some time at the Bundy ranch. They would later be killed in a shootout with police, but not before they murdered another individual.

    What do all these incidents have in common? The overwhelming majority of these killers were white. And yet, the phrase “white-on-white crime” is never uttered, thus a compelling truth goes ignored: The statistics and the stories tell us that those most likely to kill law enforcement officers are not black males, but white males.

    Another point worthy of consideration is the Bundy ranch incident, as well as the other examples of armed aggression against law enforcement, which, in a way, says that if you want to survive an encounter with police, make sure you’re armed to the teeth.


    The futility of racialized logic

    This writer is willing to ride on the racialized logic carousel with those who want to throw crime statistics in the faces of those attempting to address institutional and systemic racism. The assertion is that a high number of blacks are killed and assaulted by blacks, and those numbers should dictate how blacks should be treated by law enforcement. In other words: A black person’s rights as both a citizen and a human being are tied to the percentage of blacks who commit crimes.

    So, if that is the case:

    White young people should be pulled over by police a great deal more because white 21-year-olds are 50 percent more likely than their Hispanic, Asian or black peers to report driving after drinking.

    We should regard white males with suspicion around children because most suspects charged with sex exploitation are white, male, U.S. citizens. They are nearly 70 percent more than any other group to commit violent crimes against children and three times more likely than black inmates to have committed a criminal offense against a child.

    We shouldn’t trust whites with our money, either, because the financial crisis which began in 2007 destroyed $34.4 trillion of wealth globally by March 2009. Those at the helm and in management positions in these financial institutions were predominantly white. White-collar crime costs us between $300 and $660 billion annually, as of 2005. This is another crime whose perpetrators are mostly white.

    We also shouldn’t entrust the running of our country to whites. Only 15 percent of Americans approve of the way Congress is handling its job. Of the 535 members of the 112th U.S. Congress, 457 are white — that’s 85 percent. Although this may not fit into the crime category, it is a point worthy of consideration. Those who bash blacks over the head with the black-on-black crime club are usually operating from a belief in black incompetence. And if indeed that is the case, what does that say about Congress and its racial composition? And no fair using President Obama — his blackness is only 50 percent of the problem.

    This writer could have used more examples, but these are adequate to make the point. Now, before the invectives are spewed, please remember that the rule of the racialized logic game dictates that statistics regarding crime or incompetence drive the debate and the preponderance of an ethnic group’s representation in certain misdeeds is what the argument hinges on. The point is simple: either we ask all groups to answer the what about blank-on-blank crime question, or we ask no group to.

    Once again, this not my game — this writer is merely playing by the rules as they have been laid out by those who connect blacks and other people of color to crime and fail to mention whites and crime. Realize that when you push play on the racialized logic single, you are then obligated to hear the whole song.


    Consider this:

    2008: Jim Adkisson — kills two; wounds seven — apprehended alive

    2008: Nicholas Troy Sheley — kills eight — apprehended alive

    2011: Scott Evans Dekraai — kills eight; wounds one — apprehended alive

    2011: Jared Lee Loughner — kills six; wounds 13 — apprehended alive

    2012: James Holmes — kills 12; wounds 62 — apprehended alive.

    These individuals all happen to be white and very much alive. This writer would love to chalk it all up to coincidence that an alarming number of unarmed blacks — who also hadn’t murdered anyone — are killed by law enforcement across this country, while those who not only murder average citizens but kill cops as well, are still breathing, eating and sleeping. In order to do that, though, a whole lot of history would have to be ignored.

    And this isn’t the time to ignore history — we must learn from it and then make it. We must, all of us, insist that one life in this country doesn’t have more value than another.


    The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Mint Press News editorial policy.

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    • Jonny5

      As long as you blacks keep lieing to yourselves, and not confronting the violent element in your community, the 3% that are committing 50% of all violent crime. Then your interactions with the police will still be present. When you commit crime, then the police are present. Please quit being so so stupid.

    • FightForUrRight/HispanicCons

      There are a lot of holes in this article and I am saying that racism should be debated but without excluding black racism and blacks contribution to their own bad image. Judging character is required of all races

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    • If blacks don’t like the way whites are running things, then they should take a look around to see what they would be like if blacks were in charge.

      One only has to look at a country like South Africa to see what the US will look like in about twenty years.

      Blacks can’t govern themselves
      Blacks can’t control themselves.
      Blacks can’t even feed themselves.

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    • P.Yew

      http://archive.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/pubs/cm08/cm08.pdf (Page 46)
      These are 2008 stats, the last year that abuse type by race was listed.

      16% of sexual abuse cases by blacks (~13% of the population)
      50% of sexual abuse cases by whites (~62% of the population)

      • squareinthecircle

        Blacks have admitted they do not report things like child molestation etc since they don’t want to come into contact with police. The actual numbers of black crime are absolutely staggering I’m sure.

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    • twiggy44
    • Tiffany Shaw

      This article gave me so much life! Great points. Sad but all true

    • Kathie Wheeler

      Evil is colorless.

    • Sandalsnoshoes

      Michael Brown robbed a liquor store, got in a fight with a police officer, and then charged the officer which caused his death. Why don’t you write an article about the rule of law and why it is important in a civilized society? One more point: black violence, especially black mob violence, goes back to antiquity. Of course in colonial times it would have been a concern of people. It’s been a concern of all people who are exposed to black mobs. If you want any proof, there are live feeds every night in Ferguson, Missouri, showing mindless mobs walking around trying to start trouble. All for a kid who attacked a police officer. Mindless.

      • Jenna

        Robbing a liquor store and mouthing off to a cop are NOT capital crimes. Even if they were it’s not up to the cop to break the law and dispense street justice on the fly. They’re held to a higher standard to uphold the law not break it. Capital death for the crime of robbing a liquor store and arguing with a cop is exactly what is called EXCESSIVE force. thank you. Cops have to follow the law too even if hypocritical bigots want to hypocritically sanction it. You only sanction it by hypocrisy because you feel your skin color will protect you. Someday it may not so be weary of the liberties of others you’re willing to give up as someday the chickens will come home to roost.

    • Jess Jay

      Absolutely deceitful use of facts. Blacks are more likely to commit crimes against children, as against women and other men, whether you compare them to whites, Hispanics or Asians. The black crime rate is far higher, blacks being responsible for over 50% of violent crime in America despite being only 13% of the population. So very selective to say “and three times more likely than black inmates to have committed a criminal offense against a child”. Very clever use of wording, because black People are more likely to have committed a criminal offense against a child than white People, however black Inmates are less likely to have committed a criminal offense against a child in comparison to a white Inmate. The reason being that black inmates are also in there for such a wide variety of other offenses like rape, violent gang rape, gang related gun violence, armed robbery etc that when you look at just the prison population the proportion that are in there for offenses against children decreases ONLY because so many other blacks are in there for other violent offenses. Fact remains, a random black is far more dangerous than a random person of any other colour. Environmental factors do not explain or excuse it, as whites or other minorities living on low incomes or poor conditions do not have a similarly high rate of crime. Slavery does not excuse or explain it, as black migrants to Europe who were obviously not former slaves, cause the same wanton violence there. Ridiculous to choose five random incidents from the space of five years at the end to illustrate your point, don’t you think you can find five black suspects apprehended alive from the same period? Here is one from just today, a 41 year old black male killed a 34 year old white woman and her 17 year old son. Apprehended alive. http://www.wcpo.com/news/local-news/warren-county/i-75-in-warren-county-shut-down-in-both-directions-due-to-police-activity The crime rate within the black community and the misery that they inflict on their own and other communities is disgusting. As is any attempt to distract from it or to dodge blame by trying to make “misconceptions” the main issue when people’s lives are lost and ruined forever.

      • Jenna

        Those numbers are self-serving numbers manufactured by whites who
        purposely targets blacks and give whites pass. If whites insist on
        giving other whites passes & punishing, killing blacks for spitting
        on the street then justify it by blaming the black victims, then you get
        deluded clueless bigots like you stating racist inflated numbers as
        facts. You’re wrong of course and all the data proves it. What’s next,
        blacks were the ones lynching and creating jim Crow, poll taxes and
        segregation and of course chattel slavery. please be quiet, you’re

        • Misty

          Nonsense, ask anyone who is neither white nor black – say Chinese, Indian, etc – whether they feel safer walking in a black neighbourhood or white neighbourhood. You yourself know which you feel safer in. Even Al Sharpton has admitted he feels safer when a white person is walking behind him than when a black person is. Black families move to white neighbourhoods from black neighbourhoods to get to a safe crime-free environment for their kids to grow up in. Absolutely everyone is well aware that blacks commit far more crime other than intentionally dishonest people

    • Henry

      One of the best articles I have read in recent times. As human, we are all prejudiced against people that we consider ‘others’. It takes some courage and open mind to look at the data without any emotional attachment. This writing clinically does that. Thanks for publishing.

    • Vincent W. Calhoun

      This is all bullshrt!

    • Olivia Magee

      In the picture headlining this article, why did the officer at that moment feel the need to point the gun at a unarmed man? What did he think was going to happen?

    • Johnny D

      This is the most biased article I every glanced, how pathetic. Talking about off the topic, the writer has no clue concerning Hamas/Palestine regarding Israeli, definitely uninformed. The black on black crime FBI statistics should even have at least a novice journalist concern, unless their death, blind and dumb. The problem in America is we are strict enough on rioting, looting and all the out of work citizens sucking it dry. This Michael Brown thieving citizen attacked a senior citizen, its on video. He resisted arrest, what’s the problem? Johnny D

    • GALT

      If two wrongs don’t make a right, two idiots don’t make a genius. ( but thank you for the attempt and the demonstration.)

      You did use the word “morality”…maybe you could share what you think it means. Origin of ; application of;
      value of; benefit of; et cetera.

      The Supreme Court has declared that the “police” are not required to “prevent crime”, and you can make
      another statistical comparison of “people” who do not believe the “law” applies to them. ( and they prove it. )

      Effect of your lengthy diatribe? ROCK———> “you” <————–HARD PLACE

      • Robert Jackson

        You still haven’t answered the underlying question which is: if “all” Blacks are to be held accountable for the crimes that “some” blacks commit, then why shouldn’t whites be held to the same standard? It’s amazing than whites have to answer the same question that blacks or Hispanics have to answer they revert to the old ad hominem attack. And thankfully for me, it doesn’t take a “genius” to see that.

        • GALT

          Actually, I asked the “underlying question”…….which you didn’t answer, most likely
          due to the fact that you didn’t recognize it, as being an answer to your question,
          as well as MY response to this article…….which SOLVES nothing.

          Given the “intent” of this article, I don’t believe it is possible to rehabilitate this discussion
          to anything resembling an “intelligent” direction…….but then there is very little in human history
          that resembles anything intelligent, so this would be par for the course.

          • Robert Jackson

            If nothing is solved by the article, then most assuredly YOUR RESPONSE to it surely is an empty response. And if nothing in human history is intelligent, then what you’ve written – being 8 hours old now, has passed into human history and should with same lack of esteem as all other events in “human history” that preceded it.

            • GALT

              Clearly, you have seem to have a problem comprehending things that have distinct meaning. Like the author, for YOU……”very little” must equal “nothing”…….and ” 8 hours ”

              equals “history”. ( even though this seems to be an “on going” albeit pointless discussion.)

              To grasp the significance of “history”, in the determination and evaluation of the degree of “intelligence” involved, one must have access to the actual “truth” of that history, which for most is one of “selective mythology” or “willfull ignorance”, further compounded by the lack of any actual truth that may be available, and which requires a great deal of effort to find if it is. ( of course this would shatter the “chosen mythology” which is something you seem to be reluctant to do. )

              Of course you are perfectly free to list those things that “were solved” by the article,
              but you chose not to. You were free to answer the question asked, but you chose not to.
              You were free to ask questions for clarification regarding that which you didn’t comprehend, but you chose not to. You could have attempted an “intelligent” response…but as noted, you are clearly not capable…although you were “compelled” to respond, regardless.

              What this article did do was demonstrate the need for those seeking an “intelligent”
              approach to be more familiar with the “manipulation” attempted here:

              Standard Deviation: Flawed Assumptions, Tortured Data, and Other Ways to Lie with Statistics: Gary Smith (The Overlook Press).


              • Robert Jackson

                Your analysis seems eerily lifted from another source. Nevertheless, the aim of most articles is not solve or even convince. Most are done to tell a certain story or give insight into a particular point of view. A piece can be written to disabuse some of their cherished myths and mythology. In your somewhat nihilistic point of view, we can’t be certain that anything is true. Some my question to you is: how do you discern whether something is true? You added a link to, I’m guessing another author. What makes that particular person superior to this writer or any other individual for that matter. You chose to respond to the article and you didn’t really deconstruct any point that he was making. He spoke a great deal about the various assumptions and actual recorded history and statements that have been made in regard to black people in this country. If it solves nothing, what does your response solve?

                • GALT

                  So, the article solved……? No response!

                  The “link” is preceded by the title…it is a direction. ( and the deconstruction you CLAIM
                  to be seeking..or did you NOT understand the title? ) No need to guess when you can click and/or TRY to comprehend what you read.

                  My point is that: neither the author or anyone else can define what “morality” is?

                  My point is that: this species is not predisposed to logical reasoning and therefor has no claim to intelligence.

                  My point is that: if it is government’s role to “secure” the unalienable right to life, as stated, no government has done so, or acted in a manner that indicates they understand the meaning of “those words”, either.

                  The author’s point was: “The point is simple: either we ask all groups to answer the what about blank-on-blank crime question, or we ask no group to.”

                  My point was: If two wrongs don’t make a right, two idiots don’t make a genius.

                  and you have the “answer” to the question asked…..you just can’t see it.

        • Philly is a toilet

          At any point in time in the US 1/3 of the black population is either on parole, probation, or incarcerated. No other race has that kind of criminal element, that’s why the majority has to answer for the minority’s actions.

      • Eugene Jackson

        It solves nothing? What is the an infomercial or some sort of self-help book: “how to solves the misconceptions and racist assumption of whites in ten easy steps?” This is what is solves for some of us: everytime some self-righteous idiot tries to throw black-on-black crime in the faces of black people, then there’s more enough in this piece to throw back. It might not do it for all, but I’ve seen it do it to more than enough already for my satisfaction. If blacks have to answer for black crimes and misdemeanors then hello goose let me introduce you to gander.

        • GALT

          Hey, if it makes YOU feel better…congratulations. But as a “black person” it doesn’t solve
          either problem…and “black crime” is 90% a “black problem”…and a contributor to the “other”
          problem. ( although ignorance and stupidity are the real problem, as noted elsewhere.)

          But, hey, I’m glad you “feel” better!

          Wasn’t the purpose of the “Black Panthers” to address that problem, originally?

          Of course there is another way to interpret the question. Think of it as intended
          with the same motivation as this question: Not all cops are bad, but the good cops
          know who the bad cops are, yet nothing is done. Are there really any good cops?

          • Eugene Jackson

            Yeah pretty much mission accomplished. What makes you think the piece was meant to solve anything. It’s an op-ed not a rubric’s cube. And so still nothing about crimes that committed primarily by whites that is a major contributor to many crimes – implode the economy; cause massive joblessness; create an income inequality that surpasses any in the world and hey, they’ll be massive crimes. Inundate a community with that level of inequality and we can’t be surprised by the response. Oh and a nice way to throw the Black Panthers into the mix. Every substantive push by blacks has been undermined by the powers-that-be over and over again. Am I always happy by the response to those injustices by those who are oppressed? No. But I sure won’t be lectured by those who haven’t lived it and hasn’t done anything to alleviate it. I agree with your last question, however, as much as it pains me to say it. How do we define a “good” cop if they are complicit in the “bad” cops actions, is an appropriate question to ask. Nevertheless, what I do know is this: if Blacks or other groups of color was 85% of those who are deemed incompetent in running a country; 95% of those who implode an economy and were, to the tune of 8 to 9 out of 10 times the bozo you wanted to get expelled from office, you better believe we’d be talking about race. But when white folks are the predominant group it’s sanitized in liberal, progressive, libertarian or conservative, not in terms of ethnicity. And only a fool or liar or both can’t see that or won’t.

            • GALT

              Hey, as long as it makes YOU feel better. ( this seems to be important to you and
              we are clearly not talking about the same thing, nor will this “op-ed” change anything.
              In fact, it will have the exact opposite effect, because ignorance and stupidity begets
              ignorance and stupidity….. this doesn’t change the “reality” the YOU face but as long as this diatribe makes you feel better about it, I’m sure those that benefit from it, will
              take comfort in your satisfaction. )

              “To conquer, first DIVIDE.”

              Not all islamist’s are “terrorists or radicals”…..the majority are not. But if one can
              exploit the “differences” and the “fear”, one gains recruits to ones cause. ( and
              will tar all with the same brush. ) This can be an effective strategy, provided one
              has a territorial advantage. ( but even this can be painful, even though you
              will eventually win.)

              In 1790 the black population was approx 12.5% of the population, and that is what
              it remains today. Confrontation, creating differences, reveling in fear and intimidation,
              these are NOT useful strategies under the circumstances that exist. They are not
              tactics that will eventually win……but at least you will have felt good, demonstrating
              that YOU could be as equally stupid and ignorant, as your “imagined” critic’s,
              by choosing NOT to address your “reality”….by pointing out that they have not addressed theirs. ( or trying to. )

              Cui bono?

              • Eugene Jackson

                At the end of the day what writing, op-ed, article etc. changes anything? It what people decides to do with anything that ultimately changes. There are things that are written that are deemed inconsequential at time, by some, and thought to be groundbreaking or at the very least, pertinent to a future debate by others So no literary work has value. You can say what it does for anyone else or how it impacts anyone else. After all, the only thing you can definitively say is that it didn’t do anything for YOU. That’s where I’ll leave it.