and why changing the subject to "black on black" crime is bogus:
There are many layers of logical and moral reasoning that explain why focusing on black-on-black crime in response to criticism of law enforcement's treatment of black Americans misses the point. As Vox's Lauren Williams has pointed out, this starts with the term "black-on-black" itself:
One of the primary problems with this argument is that "race-on-race" crime is not a phenomenon unique to black Americans. (Jamelle Bouie debunked this myth in the Daily Beast, and my colleague Matt Yglesias recently exposed the scourge of white-on-white murder.)
Plus, she explained, the underlying sentiment that "nobody pays attention when black people kill each other" is simply not based in reality:
But even though the term "black-on-black" crime is misleading, this much is true: a disproportionate number of murder victims are black. African Americans make up about 13 percent of the US population and 50 percent of homicide victims, according to the FBI's (imperfect) data. But not only is it unoriginal and transparent to trumpet these stats whenever tough questions about systemic racism arise, it's also untrue that so-called violence in black communities is being ignored.
In fact, the reason everyone knows so much about black-on-black crime in, say, Chicago is that it gets tons of national attention.
But guess what does often get ignored by a large segment of the population? Every piece of the puzzle that goes along with crime in black communities — deep-seated, institutionalized discrimination and racism that affects every single area of life, and provides the backdrop for the violence that does occur in predominantly black, low-income places like Chicago's South Side neighborhood:
The effects of this systemic racism show up in almost every meaningful aspect of American life. Black and Latino children are more likely to attend schools that are segregated by both race and income. White families are about six times more wealthy than black families. [As of August 2014] just43.5 percent of black Americans own homes, about 20 percentage points below the national rate. The African-American poverty rate is 27.2 percent, while the white poverty rate is 9.7 percent. In July, national unemployment was at 6.2 percent, but for black people, it was 11.4 percent.
Focusing on black-on-black crime distracts from the current news (the murder case against Slanger, in this instance) that is worthy of discussion and analysis. Worse, it randomly zooms in on one phenomenon — that sometimes black people kill people who are also black — while ignoring the issues that go hand in hand with it. And that's a lot to ignore. As Ta-Nehesi Coates wrote at the Atlantic in 2014, "The policy of America has been, for most of its history, white supremacy. The high rates of violence in black neighborhoods do not exist outside of these facts — they evidence them."
So people who are put off by discussions of the latest instance of a police officer killing an unarmed black man, and how it reflects the way systemic racism works in America, are more than entitled to their stance. But they'll really need to find a more convincing way to change the subject.