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The myth of "black crime"

by Diane Vera

Copyright © 2006 Diane Vera. All rights reserved.

It has long seemed clear to me that any disproportionate number of black criminals is caused by poverty, not by any inherent criminality of black people. Here in the U.S.A., it is certainly true that a disproportionate number of black people are in prison. But that's also true of people from poor neighborhoods in general.

Below are pages and sites debunking the idea that black people are inherently more criminal than whites:

In my opinion, the "black crime" myth is an especially important one to refute, because it has caused huge trouble for many law-abiding people of African descent.

I personally have never believed that black people are especially prone to crime, other factors being equal (such as poverty). The man who once tried to rob my father at gunpoint was white, not black. When I walk down the street, I avoid rough-looking kids of whatever race, including rough-looking white kids, who, in my experience, have been the worst potential sources of trouble. On the other hand, neither my parents nor I have ever been afraid to walk in the better and busier black neighborhoods. Of course, none of us should generalize about entire races based on our own personal experiences. (See Rationalizing the Irrational: Racism and the Fallacy of Personal Experience by Tim Wise.)

But I've run into lots of people who do believe in "black crime." Here in New York, I've run into quite a few white people who believed that all black neighborhoods are extremely dangerous and that only black (and possibly Hispanic) neighborhoods are dangerous. And it seems to me that this notion is one of the main factors perpetuating racist attitudes toward blacks. Obviously, if you believe that people in a certain category are inherently prone to crime, then naturally you're going to be reluctant to live near them, hire them, or have anything to do with them. "Black crime" is also one of the main issues used by neo-Nazis, both in their recruitment efforts and when trying to provoke a race riot.

Being falsely assumed to be a criminal is something that Satanists should be able to relate to. (See my website Against Satanic Panics.) A big difference, of course, is that it's relatively easy to hide one's religion, but much harder to hide one's race. Still, our own experience should lead us to be at least mildly skeptical toward traditional folkloric claims about any particular group of people being inherently prone to crime. Our experience with a similar prejudice does not, in and of itself, disprove all such claims in general; but, at the very least, it should make us willing to question them.

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