On my radio program recently, one of my guests mentioned that it is nearly always assumed that any racial disparities are due to racism. When there is a significant difference between black and white citizens, certainly racial prejudice or discrimination should be considered. But it shouldn’t always be the assumed conclusion. Mario Loyola believes we can often find other explanations.
For example, according to reports from the New York Police Department, “black men are arrested and prosecuted in about 60 to 70 percent of every category of violent crime, though they are just over 10 percent of the city’s population.” He then points out that a major reason for this disparity “is the disproportionate number of 911 calls from black neighborhoods.” I suppose you could argue that if we want fewer cops in black neighborhoods, then the citizens should make fewer 911 calls. Those calls to police are for help dealing with the crimes that are occurring in that neighborhood.
Another disparity can be found in the prisons. More than five percent of black males are in prison at any given time. This is five times the incarceration rate of whites. Yet if we once again look at New York City, we discover that criminal suspects in the city are disproportionately black since most of the victims of crime in the city are black.
These two examples aren’t meant to say that all racial disparities can be explained away. My point is to briefly illustrate why we shouldn’t immediately assume that any significant difference in statistics between races is due to racial prejudice or some form of discrimination.
If we are to truly address issues of race in society and remedy true discrimination, we will be better served not to jump to such conclusions. Sometimes there are other reasonable explanations for such disparities.