It is the rate of killing, measured against population - in both cases.

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We should be investigating very closely all killings of anyone by police.

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I wish these statistics were more broadly known and accepted. I tried to initiate a discussion with a group of former classmates, all but one of whom don't want to talk at all--they're white. And terrified. The one who's talking to me is black. The Juilliard incident--a black instructor showed a class the slave-auctioning scene in the 1977 film, Roots, and all hell broke loose--horrified me. He's apparently apologizing to students who say they are traumatized. There's a mass hysteria surrounding words and classroom material. Teaching is becoming an even more impossible profession than it formerly was; I thought of reading some Allen Ginsberg to a class the other day and--too late--remembered that "Howl" includes the phrase "negro streets." I read it, and hope nobody reports me to the dean.

It seems too dishonest to me, too destructive of the writer, too, to erase his language. But I'm not teaching in the U.S.

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Yaaaay so I actually went half-crosseyed and downloaded the Washpo stats from 2020 to do my own slicing and dicing. Numbers were slightly different than what John found, though with a similar thrust:

Total killed: 1,020

Total unarmed killed: 55

Total white unarmed: 24 (76% of population, 46% of unarmed killings, 58% of violent crimes)

Total black unarmed: 18 (13.4% of population, 32% of unarmed killings, 36.7% of violent crimes)

Black people were about 4 times as likely to be killed by police, unarmed, in 2020.

They were also were 3.67 times more likely to be involved in the commission - or to be victims of - violent crime.

Full disclosure, crime stats were from 2019, so it's not 100% apples to apples. Point is, like John/Coleman/other folks who have looked deeply, I couldn't find evidence of bias in killing, once I controlled for encounters with police for violent crime arrests.

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Addendum to my prior post:

Of the 1021 police killings that occurred in 2020:

646 Involved suspects with guns

172 with knives

51 with vehicles


39 Other

55 Unarmed….24 OF WHOM WERE WHITE

Balance unknown.

The fact that this is left out of the “National Discussion” we’re supposedly having about race is criminal. If we don’t push back against the lies with the truth we’re done as a country. And, ironically, blacks will be those who suffer the most. This is why it’s vital for men and women like Glenn and John…who are black and immune to the claim of racism…to speak the loudest.

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Let's just tell it like it is...most Americans are as dumb as rocks. I quote the late and great Malcolm Muggeridge :

"So the final conclusion would surely be that whereas other civilizations have been brought down by attacks of barbarians from without, ours had the unique distinction of training its own destroyers at its own educational institutions, and then providing them with facilities for propagating their destructive ideology far and wide, all at the public expense. Thus did Western Man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down, and having convinced himself that he was too numerous, labored with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer. Until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over--a weary, battered old brontosaurus--and became extinct.”

The WP statistics cited by John can be filetered and summarized in a number of ways. As deplorable as the Post is when it comes to reporting truth, the Police Killing Data Base they maintain is done quite well. It allows you to filter and summarize in a number of ways. Here are the 2020 stats broken down by category:

Total Killings: 1021

Whites Killed: 457...15/Million

Blacks Killed:243...36/Million

Hispanics Killed: 170....27/Million

Others Killed: 151....5/Million

Men Killed: 983

Women Killed: 38

Now, if there was a shred of validity to correlating race and the nimber of kills, to the relative proportion of the population one would have to conclude:

1. Police are systematically executing men because they are men. Women constitute more than 50% of the population but are nearly 25 time less likely to be shot than men.

2. Whites are being killed at a rate almost 3 times higher than Asians and other non Hispanic non black minorities and are therefore being singled out for execution.

We're a dumb nation that will fall for anything. There's no easy cure for that.

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John McWhorter is not just a brilliant thinker—he's the kind of brilliant thinker we badly need right now. This article is one of many prime examples.

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Can someone help explain the statistics: according to the Washington Post database, black people are 2x more likely to be killed by cops than white people, AND there are almost 5x more white people in the USA than black people, so in fact blacks *are* killed by cops significantly more frequently than white people....(I'm not addressing the poverty disparity, simply the numbers in proportion to the population distribution). what am I missing here?

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I like that the Professor keeps pounding on this point. It must be pounded on. The website, Statista, states that from 2017-March 2021, police have killed 4250 people. 22% are classified as Black. 41% are classified as White. 16% as Hispanic (and odd classification as Hispanics can be any race). 17% as “unknown”. Obviously they are not unknown—-but there is apparently no record according to Statista. 3% are other . In our whites are evil world, it is surprising Hispanics rarely show up on our nightly news as victims of police——why? I can only guess. Assuming unknowns are proportionally distributed it is 48% white, 29% Black, 19% Hispanic and 4% other. The police in US do kill a much higher percentage of people than the EU and Japan——seemingly as much as 20x more per 100,000. Yet, as distasteful this sounds, Statista states 14+ million people were arrested in 2019—so, 1 out of 14000 people were killed attempting to be arrested—-which seems low to me. If we were driven by racism, this seems remarkably low.

The race “issue” in America matters and is serious. The Professor has written much about this in a very thoughtful way in almost all of his writings. Focusing on police action against one race as a defining characteristic of America, turns all attention away from far more important issues to improve the economic conditions of black people and poor people in general. It is phony. It is political. Those who scream the loudest are the most dishonest and have other agendas.

It is designed to take our eye off the real problems we face. That is is why JM must keep pounding on this issue.

I doubt police keep track of statistics—-they are likely to keep track of their situational condition.

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Cops kill white people just as easily as they kill black people as a fact. Yet it would seem that white people are not as concerned about police shootings of white people as black people are concerned about police shootings of black people. Why is this? I don't know the answer, but I suspect the explanation will explain a lot about why this fact is so hard for people to accept.


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People should check out Sam Harris’ latest podcast. He interviews Rener Gracie (of the Gracie Brazilian Jiu Jitsu dynasty) about police training, and their appalling ineptitude when going “hands on” with resisting suspects. The problem starts way before race, or guns, or the media. The truth is that if the police (or the gun fans who’ve responded here) had even minimal training on how to safely restrain people, they wouldn’t need to resort to lethal force at all in 99% of cases.

In California (where I live), police must receive 664 hours of training TOTAL to receive a badge. To be a barber? 1500 hours. After getting their badge, the average police officer receives 4 hours of training on arresting people every 2 years. That’s everything: legal issues, weapons, de-escalation...everything. That means about 1 half-hour of training on grappling every 2 years. Mr. Gracie advocates 1 hour of BJJ training every week as a minimum to achieve basic competence. This basic level of training would allow officers to avoid the “Amygdala blackout” that occurs when your life if threatened. Police that have received the basic BJJ training are confident, and remain calm. They don’t freak out and pull their gun, because they are confident that they can handle the suspect safely.

Anyway, I can’t recap the whole conversation here, but if you want to comment intelligently on this issue, you should check it out. It’s free.

Once you understand that cops are just regular people who have simply not been adequately trained to do their jobs, the whole tenor of this debate should change (unless you’re just using your favorite hammer, and looking for nails to whack).

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The most frequent response to these obvious results is that black interaction with police outside of a shooting is the issue. DWB being the prime example. The Wapo data does not inform on this issue.

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The problem here is quite simple: the media. They never consider the points you raise and never will, because it's too wonderful a moral preening opportunity. They are the brave virtuous not-racists, the people forcing us to come to terms with America's dark racist past and present, the people who are righteous and necessary and on TV.

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I think you mean black people are 2.5x (not 2.5%) more likely to be killed by a cop. (36 per 100,000 vs. 15 per 100,000 whites according to the WaPo database you linked to). Poverty rates are also about 2.5x. (21% for blacks, 9% for whites). https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/poverty-rate-by-raceethnicity/

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I think many police shootings, whether the person is black or white, are justified, especially if the person has a gun which is real or looks real and is pointing it at police. For example, I understand that the popular narrative that arose around Michael Brown's death is false, he in fact was shot in the front while rushing toward the officer to grab his weapon. He had previously tried to grab the officer's gun while the officer was still in the car, resulting in a gun shot to Brown's hand.

I looked up the case of the 17 yr-old white Hannah Williams and I found it was covered on national media including CNN, NY Times, etc. Her father had made a phone call to police saying she had taken their rental car and she may want to hurt herself. Police video was released showing that she got out of her car and pointed a replica gun at police before she was shot. The other case about the man with Down's syndrome being shot who had a toy gun took place in Sweden.

There are several cases of blacks being shot that I believe are totally unjustified such as Elijah McClain, Walter Scott, Bettie Jones, Philando Castle, Kurt Reinhold (shot after jaywalking), etc. Also there are way to many people (black & white) shot during mental health crises.

I think a big problem is the attitude that police have when they approach blacks or try to take them into custody. A recent example is the case of black, fully uniformed US Army officer Caron, Nazario who was stopped while driving a brand new car with the temp. license taped inside the back window. He drove for 100 sec. to a well lit spot to pull over, and 2 VA police officers jumped out with guns drawn and spoke in a way that was hostile, rude, & disrespectful. He held his arms up outside the car window, then was ordered to get out of the car. He was afraid to put his arms down to open the door because he was thinking they would claim he was going for a gun and shoot him! They police officers ended up assaulting him and knocking him down. I think those two police officers would treat a white person in the same situation very differently and it would just be a routine traffic stop.

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The thing that I find frustrating about police shooting statistics is that to really make sense of racial or other disparities, you need to isolate justified shootings from unjustified shootings. Just saying, "The police shot X people this year" doesn't mean much; you need to subtract out the justified shootings (which may not be simple, since people will disagree about what is justified, and you can't necessarily trust the police themselves to make the call) and see if there is a statistically-significant racial disparity among unjustified shootings. What the results of this analysis would be, I have no idea, but it would be more relevant to the question of racial bias in policing.

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