19 August 2013

Whence Afro criminality?

[This will be the final of our three-part series in reaction to the 2012-13 Trayvon Martin Affair.]

The country has been in an uproar in the wake of the trial for the shooting of an Afro teenager by Floridian George Zimmerman.  The question being asked by many Blacks is, 'Why are we profiled?'  Having looked at the data,, Those Who Can See concluded: 'You are profiled because Afro crime is very high relative to other groups.'

If such is the case--and we believe the data points in that direction--one may ask, 'Why is Afro crime high relative to other groups?'  Blackness experts have proposed several hypotheses, of which the most popular is:

'The history of slavery and exclusion makes us commit crime.'

As we have seen, the opposite is the case: As slavery and Jim Crow recede further into the past, black crime is increasing, not decreasing.

(Data Source: National prison census data for 1926-1986, 1990, 1995,
2000, 2005, 2010, also 1979 and 1984)

As well, Afros who emigrate to countries that never practiced slavery or colonialism still commit more crimes  than other groups there.

Disproportionate Afro immigrant crime in France, Switzerland,

Furthermore, many Sub-Saharan countries are well-known to be dangerous places inside and outside the cities.

The U.S. State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security reports on Haiti, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Liberia, and Ethiopia.

In addition, other ethnic groups who've suffered oppression, such as Asian-Americans, not only don't commit more crime than Euros--they commit less.

'Oppression makes us criminal' does not seem, then, as an argument, to hold water.

So where do the real causes lie?

06 August 2013

Why We Profile

In the outcry following the recent acquittal of Floridian George Zimmerman in the shooting death of an Afro teenager, many in the black community have voiced their displeasure.  Canadian graduate student Matthew Simmermon-Gomes is one: 

What I do know is what it’s like to be a Trayvon Martin. To be suspect. I do know what it’s like to be followed by staff in a nice clothing store; to be stopped by police for walking down the street; to endure the thousand micro-aggressions and the hundred fearful looks, the patronising astonishment coupled with quiet indignation at my education or erudition. I know, in other words, what it is to be a person of colour in a world that privileges whiteness.

While we must take this nearly Euro-looking young man from Ottawa at his word, we are left a bit bemused that despite his 'education' and 'erudition,' he is flatly unaware of basic statistics and probability.

We all live our lives based on probabilities. This gentleman's Afro father, for example, got itchy feet and decided to abandon life in beautiful but tiny Antigua (then under British rule).  Though he had the choice of over thirty Afro-run countries to emigrate to, he opted to take his chances in chilly white-run Canada. Why?  Easy: Statistically speaking, Euro-governed countries provide a better quality of life in nearly every way--rule of law, lack of corruption, solid infrastructure, plentiful white-collar jobs, generous welfare state, a cornucopia of material comforts. Mr Gomes took a chance--and was right.  Can we fault him that?

Antigua or Canada....Decisions, decisions...

We can't speak for Canada, but chance is also the reason U.S. Whites lock their car doors, clutch their purses, and cross the street in the presence of Blacks.  There is a folk knowledge culled from 400 years of disproportionate black crime in North America.  It can be seen in the statistics, in the anecdotes, in the earliest colonial writings.

Statistical probability is the wellspring of stereotypes.  It is what pushes us to avoid snakes, spiders, and scorpions; it is why Swiss clocks, German cars, and Jewish lawyers are so sought after; it is why the global South continually tries to emigrate to the global North.  Past performance is no guarantee of future success, warn the experts, but from our experience, we know it usually is.

So in response to Mr. Matthew Simmermon-Gomes, 'Why are Afros profiled everywhere they go?' is a question that has concrete answers.  Here they are.