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How to respond to “but look at all the Black on Black murders in Chicago!”

These are the facts you need to present to your racist friends and family members who only care about Chicago when it’s time to trample over the validity of Black Lives Matter. Memorize them and keep them in your pocket because this particular myth about race and crime is one we can easily do away with.

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Every racist’s favorite word is Chicago. I’m serious. Even moreso than the n-word, because — even though they do love to say it — a lot of them aren’t completely stupid and they know if they say it in front of the wrong person they may in fact get popped in the mouth. Nobody is throwing a punch over “but Chicago!”

(But they might soon, and I would love to see it.)

Part of the reason Black people don’t get as upset at “but Chicago!” is…we kind of agree, amongst ourselves, in our own community, AWAY from the white eyeballs who are reading this post right now. I would feel like a traitor saying that all out loud, but this is about to get good y’all. Stay with me here.

Michael Harriot (@michaelharriot) just blessed me with a pile of information that I never knew existed, never bothered to look for, and never even formed a concept around in my mind. I retweeted his thread on Twitter (so if you have Twitter, just go there and read it and retweet it), but I know a lot of my followers are social media averse and a Twitter thread isn’t most folks’ preferred method of receiving information. But I just want to be clear: all of the statistics and figures I’m about to drop down here were absolutely swiped from that thread. I just wanna give these numbers as much exposure as I can because I think it’s a very important understanding of the facts.

We’ll start with the factual information that makes this conversation uncomfortable to have in mixed company: Black people make up 13% of the population and commit 50% of the murders.

Even starting at that “fact” you should keep in mind: 1) that statistic is for arrests for murder and 2) when that information is presented, it comes across as though each murder is being committed by a different Black person, when in reality, criminals usually commit many crimes.

But Michael has decided to give White America and the justice system those two points, that every Black person arrested for murder actually killed someone AND every murder victim was killed by a different Black person. That is a lot of Black murderers Michael is prepared to offer up for this discussion, and we appreciate that because it gives white deflectors nowhere to go later. Now take these two charts together, murders vs population breakdown.

Honestly, he could’ve stopped right there and it was enough to sit me down, shamefully, and examine why I thought the percentage would be much higher. The way crime in context with race is framed in this country, we all — not just white people — grow up thinking Black criminals are a blight upon the land. From Hollywood to the local news, most of the violent criminals we see on television are Black. Most of the good guys (and not good in a specifically Law vs Crime sense, but just main characters in a romantic comedy or drama or 30 minute sitcom) are white. From the time we’re born, we’re brought up on a steady diet of visual media where there is a spectrum of white people presented to us alongside a much more narrow view of Black people. It seeps into your psyche without thinking, and most of us, regardless of color, are laboring under the impression that a much higher percentage of Black people are criminals than the percentage of white people.

It’s BASICALLY THE SAME. And part of the reason we have that impression is due to the overreporting of crime on television. Crime is down. It keeps going down. You were more likely to be abducted and murdered in 1960 than you are now, but all the movies set decades ago show kids riding their bikes all day and traipsing through the woods without a care in the world. Today, we have busybody parents calling the cops on single mothers who leave their kid in the food court (within eyesight) while they have a job interview at the mall so they can provide for their child.

(That really happened.)

Anyway, back to the facts.

Now that we got that outta the way, those facts may not completely shut down the conversation. When white people seek to discredit Black Lives Matter, they use “but Chicago!” as a way to say “Black people kill each other way more than cops do, so why don’t you talk about that huh!?”

First of all, crime itself is largely INTRAracial, meaning most victims of a crime are the same race as the criminal. 89% of Black murder victims are killed by Black murderers, and 81% of white murder victims are killed by white murderers. (x) So that’s a wash, and there’s your answer to that part of the argument.

As far as discussing it, We The Black Community absolutely discuss crime in our community, far more than white people do, even though, as we saw earlier, we have the same percentage of murderers in our ranks. We’re always talking about it and part of the reason is we have the same perception you do, that the Black murder rate is a much bigger problem than it really is. The media has told us that Black on Black crime is out of control and the news keeps interviewing white people who wonder why we never talk about it. White people don’t hear about it because we don’t need to have our inside conversations outside. There are a lot of things I talk about with Black people that I don’t talk about with white people, and that’s just on a small interpersonal scale. I have a whole Black Men’s Brunch I started because we like to have conversations away from y’all.

Pause for a bomb photo op, because the sun was blessing us on this day in particular:

Also, none of the men in this picture are murderers. And we are smiling. Look! Smiling Joyful Black Men on your screen! What a moment, right?

So there we have it y’all. Those are the facts you need to present to your racist friends and family members who only care about Chicago when it’s time to trample over the validity of Black Lives Matter. Memorize them and keep them in your pocket because this particular myth about race and crime is one we can easily do away with.

Numbers don’t lie. It’s all in the perception of those numbers. Change the viewpoint.

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History

Take this Jim Crow era literacy test for Black people.

I have a master’s degree, and I failed on the first question.

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I know what a literacy test is, but sadly, I’d never looked one up to see what the questions were like. During Jim Crow, they were used to keep Black people from voting. Some poor and illiterate whites got caught in the net as well, and that makes sense for a country who, when founded, only gave voting rights to landowning whites, but the purpose was to keep Black people from being heard. Former congressional candidate Gary Chambers Jr. posted a literacy test today, and you can’t pass it. I can’t pass it. No one can pass it.

This particular test from Louisiana in 1964 was to be administered to anyone who could not prove they had finished 5th grade or higher, which would overwhelmingly apply to more Black people. We had less access to education and were more likely to quit school in order to work the land and help our parents keep a meager roof over the family’s head back when so many Black people were sharecroppers.

And there’s no uniform key for this test. The white registrar reads the answers and decides whether you answered correctly or not. I’m sure this test, on the rare occasion it was given to white people at all, was graded more leniently when the hand turning it in wasn’t colored.

So. Take it and see if you would be able to vote in Louisiana in 1964, less than 60 years ago.

Ten minutes to complete 30 questions is about twenty seconds per question, and you have to get every single one correct. If this was an actual literacy test, I would pass with flying colors, because I can read well enough to know that some of these questions are unanswerable, but it’s not about literacy. It’s about creating a standard that no one can meet and then applying it unfairly to Black people. It’s giving Black people additional burdens to be perfect that white people don’t have. It’s disparaging Michelle Obama for showing her arms in her White House portrait even though Melania has nude photoshoots online. It’s arresting Black people for marijuana at 3 times the rate of white people, even though the same percentage of Black people smoke weed as white people. (x) It’s Black college students being just as likely to find employment as white people who didn’t even finish high school. (x) It’s cops shooting unarmed Black people and taking a white mass shooter to Burger King. (x)

A lot of Black kids heard this refrain from our parents growing up: You have to be twice as good as the white folks to get half as far. However. When the judge and jury of your achievement is White America, you can still fail the test they never even have to take.

 

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Race

A moment for Gwen Berry

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It’s so funny to me that Conservatives think we care what they have to say about Gwen Berry being unpatriotic when those same people don’t care that the Capitol was stormed and vandalized.

One of these is a protest.

The other is a crime.

**Black lady turns away from the flag.**

WHAT A DISGRACE TO AMERICA!

**White people break into the Capitol and erect a gallows to hang elected officials.**

awwww economic anxiety 🥺🥺🥺🥺

 

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Race

France is giving the United States another Statue of Liberty.

Another symbol of liberty to a country that’s still oppressing its people.

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NYC has another Statue of Liberty on the way. France is sending us a smaller version to be placed on Ellis Island just across the water from Liberty Island where the original stands as a beacon to freedom…or something.

This new bronze statue, nicknamed the “little sister,” is one-sixteenth the size of the world-famous one that stands on Liberty Island.

“The statue symbolizes freedom and the light around all the world,” said Olivier Faron, general administrator of the CNAM [National Museum of Arts and Crafts]. “We want to send a very simple message: Our friendship with the United States is very important, particularly at this moment. We have to conserve and defend our friendship.”

(cont. CNN)

If you want to put a symbol of “freedom and light” anywhere, it shouldn’t be in the United States.

If you want to give the Statue of Liberty to the United States all over again anyway, give it in the spirit with which it was originally intended in the first place — as a gift to celebrate Black Americans.

I grew up with the Statue of Liberty as a symbol of hope and freedom for immigrants. “Give us your tired, your poor…” and all that, but Lady Liberty had been there for twenty years before those lines by Emma Lazarus were inscribed onto a plaque and installed at the pedestal. The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of immigration (the voluntary kind, not the shackled and chained way most Black people got here) for two reasons. One, immigrants latched onto the massive sculpture, which is understandable because she was the first image of New York for most European immigrants arriving by boat on the way to be processed at nearby Ellis Island. Two, the creator, Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, pitched the idea to raise funding from Americans in the most general terms of “liberty” without specifically referencing Black Americans. His plan worked since the United States did indeed agree to pay for the pedestal if France paid for the actual statue, but it was a pivot away from the original idea.

Édouard de Laboulaye was a French abolitionist and it was he, along with his social circle of abolitionists, who conceived of a massive gift to present to the United States after the Civil War — once slavery was outlawed. The proposal of Lady Liberty initially held broken and shackles to signify the broken chains of slavery instead of the tablet she holds today. The chains eventually made their way into the final version down around her feet, the original significance lost to most people and barely noticed.

The years immediately following the Civil War were filled with promise for Black Americans and de Laboulaye wanted to recognize that. We made great strides in education, civic engagement, and politics, but the South regained its footing and struck a compromise in the 1876 Presidential Election that saw federal troops removed from the Old Confederacy. Black people were back in chains, invisible shackles placed on our communities through coalitions built between lawmakers and law enforcement, private businesses and private citizens. When Bartholdi finished Lady Liberty, there was no way to “sell” the idea to the United States as a celebration of slavery’s end. Black America hated the idea, because we were being oppressed, terrorized, and murdered, and White America would’ve scoffed, because they were doing the terrorizing. She was pitched as a symbol of liberty, immigrants saw her as the first welcoming image of the United States, and then the government solidified that feeling by using words from Emma Lazarus.

Today, it’s more important than ever to remember why the Statue of Liberty was conceived in the first place, not a symbol of general liberty and freedom, but as a symbol of Black liberty and freedom. We are still fighting to have our history accurately taught in schools. We are still fighting to be the country de Laboulaye thought we were becoming when slavery ended. And we are still fighting to live up to the promise Lady Liberty has symbolized to millions of immigrants. This little sister will probably be all over the news as we get closer to July 4th, so whenever you see her, make sure you remind somebody that the Statue of Liberty was supposed to be a gift to celebrate the end of slavery, but the US put Black people back in chains too quickly for her to actually symbolize liberty and freedom for us.

 

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