...Blaming the crime problem on black people is unfair and ill-founded. On one hand, according to FBI homicide data, African Americans commit more homicides than other racial groups. In 2013, there were 5,375 black homicide offenders versus 4,396 who were white and over 4,000 whose races were unknown. However, that is a very small percentage of the national black population, which is over 40 million people. The vast majority of black people do not commit any crimes.
Moreover, so-called black-on-black crime has decreased over the decades. In the past 20 years, black-on-black homicides decreased by 67 percent—a sharper decline than white-on-white homicide—and "[a]mong black youth, rates of robbery and serious property offenses are the lowest in more than 40 years," according to Demos. Throughout the country, crime has continuously fallen since the 1990s. Plus, black-on-black crime is hardly unique. Most crime is intra-racial. Around 90 percent of black homicide victims are killed by black offenders, while white people kill each other at roughly the same rate.
Black people are hardly oblivious of the crime within their communities. According to polling, African Americans are concerned about and organize against the crime that exists in their neighborhoods. The roots of crime in the black community are structural. Crime is caused by socioeconomic factors rather than cultural pathologies or inherent criminality, despite what peddlers of the black criminality myth would have you believe. Many studies have shown that poverty and inequality contribute greatly to crime and other social ills. Continuously high unemployment, entrenched poverty, bleak educational opportunities, racial segregation, economic inequality, generations of trauma, and societal neglect create the cycles of desperation that provide kindling for pervasive crime in black communities. One Oakland city official told me last year that many young offenders experience "violence, neglect, abuse against them" earlier in their lives, which leads to "the victim becoming the victimizer."
Yet public perceptions and biases associate black people with criminality—an association that dates back to slavery. Black African slaves were assumed to be inherently violent and immoral, a justification slave masters used to exert brutal control over them. These methods of control included torture, armed slave patrols that monitored, arrested, and violently beat free or enslaved black Africans, and lynching during the Jim Crow era.