Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Black Is The New Black Is The New Black Lives Matter

I have just finished watching the very interesting Black Is The New Black series on BBC2. It was beautifully shot, with great close-up filming of so many beautiful males and females with awesome skin – something I’m very familiar with as my wife, who is Rwandan-born dual heritage, has absolutely awesome skin. While it was lovely to hear from the contributors about the inspirations and progressions they've enjoyed, it was upsetting to hear of the many cases of racism and prejudice to which they’d been subjected, even in the UK in recent times.

While this country is definitely on an upward trajectory in terms of respect, acceptance and tolerance, the recent Brexit vote reminds us that there are still many nasty elements lurking in the societal sub-ducts. If I were to make a prediction, I think each passing generation will continue to see improvements, and it will probably be about another three generations henceforth before things get much better.

Here's why. When it comes to those who still lag behind in terms of being accepting, tolerant global citizens, there are two main groups in this country. The first and by far the largest group are the older generation of racists, bigots and xenophobes - people who grew up in this country when white indigenous Brits were the overwhelming majority, and who have never been enlightened or educated about the enriching benefits of a diverse, pluralistic society. The second group are the two generations of family that have followed on from the first group; they are almost equally similar in their views and prejudices, but many of the younger ones are far more used to diversity in society than the older folk. 

I'd say by and large in another generation hereafter most of the first group will have died out, leaving many of the second group as the new oldie racists, bigots and xenophobes. But by then Britain will be even more tolerant, accepting and diverse, and the newest group will be born into a society that makes them even less likely to be as bad as their grandparents and great-grandparents' generation. Consequently, I think it will take another couple of generations after that before things get a lot better. In the meantime they will continue to get a little better.

Last point on the programme. Listening to some of the contributors, it was interesting, how one or two said that it’s bad when there isn’t the black representation on TV shows, but there were a couple of complaints about shows that picked a select black person, making it obvious they were filling a quota. At the shorter term level, it’s an interesting duality of opposites, because it’s difficult to satisfy one desire without failing to satisfy the other. If it’s not desired that minority groups are deliberately selected to fill a quota then there is the danger that they will be left out; and if there is not the desire that they are left out, some kind of deliberate selection is likely.

As you've probably worked out by now, I want to live in a world in which programme makers feel absolutely free to make whatever programmes they wish, having any kind of representation they choose without the slightest fear of reprisals.

I also want to live in a world in which faulty arguments and bogus reasoning are exposed as being unhelpful to the people they are trying to help (as cases in point here and here and here demonstrate). To add to those examples, let's talk about an example of where this is happening in the black communities.

What of Black Lives Matter?
You've probably seen all the headlines in 2016 regarding the Black Lives Matter movement. My own view is that black lives matter, sure, but that is because all lives matter. Once we have (hopefully) agreed that all lives matter, I'd now like to you to agree with me that statistics matter too - or at least, they matter when they provide key data about a situation that many are overlooking. Black Lives Matter is described on Wiki as the following:

"Black Lives Matter (BLM) is an international activist movement, originating in the African-American community, that campaigns against violence and systemic racism toward black people. BLM regularly protests police killings of black people and broader issues of racial profiling, police brutality, and racial inequality in the United States criminal justice system."


The key words above are 'systemic racism'. While we can all agree that if there is systematic racism it should be stamped out, we should also agree, I hope, that when systematic racism is wrongly attributed it should be called out. I don't think there are many who would deny that systematic racism is still present in society, I think the disagreements are about how much systematic racism exists. I don't know the precise answer, but I think I can give an indication of places where it is being mis-attributed.
The fact that black people are getting stopped and searched, arrested, put in prison and murdered more than white people may give indication of strong systematic racism. But it may not. In fact, a little knowledge of some concomitant statistics suggests not. Here is some compelling American data:
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, data shows that 93 percent of black homicide victims are killed by other blacks. Blacks commit violent crimes at 7 to 10 times the rate that whites do. Blacks committed 52 percent of homicides between 1980 and 2008, despite composing just 13 percent of the population.
Across the same timeframe, whites committed 45 percent of homicides while composing 77 percent of the population. In New York City, blacks committed 75 percent of all shootings, 70 percent of all robberies, and 66 percent of all violent crime, despite only composing 23 percent of the population. Finally, according to a post I read a while ago, blacks are 18.5 times more likely to fatally shoot a cop than vice versa. Evidently, while no one would deny there are huge problems in inner-city America, it's not all about racism as is being made out by some - the higher rates of crime among black Americans are highly likely to be in some way behind the higher rate of incidences for blacks being shot by cops.
Just recently I was reminded of a conversation I had with a chum at school. I remember I wasn't very interested in sport (or very good at it), and I recall the school football team used to play other teams from other schools, and one of the teachers from the home team would be the referee (usually in our case a chap called Mr. Harty).
Far from being biased in our favour, I noticed that Mr Harty seemed to be more likely to favour our opponents. I understood why - if people are keeping an eye on you for biases in favour of your own team, the best way is to overcompensate by being slightly biased against them. I said to a friend that I thought that Mr Harty was showing bias towards the opposition, to which he pointed out that that couldn't be the case because Mr Harty often seemed to call slightly more fouls against the opposition than his own team.
I pointed out that this doesn't prove he's not biased. Here's why. The corollary is that if Mr Harty is more lenient towards the opposition by, say, 15%, then the opposition can afford to be 15% more aggressive when Mr Harty is referee. This shows that it is perfectly possible that Mr Harty could call more fouls against opposition players and yet still be heavily biased in their favour. If the opposition players are 15% more aggressive but only get 5% more fouls called against them then there is a clear bias.
There is an analogy here to the key factor in why the accusations of systematic racism very much depend on the ratio of criminals. If the ratio of black males to black criminals is greater than the white ratio, you would expect more black males to be stopped, arrested and shot by the police. I will illustrate by considering two islands, Island A and Island B. 
Suppose Island A has 50 black criminals and 50 white criminals among the population, and the ratio of blacks to whites getting shot, stopped and searched or convicted is 7 to 3. Under those conditions you could infer probable discrimination. Suppose Island B has 70 black criminals and 30 white criminals among the population, and the ratio of blacks to whites getting shot, stopped and searched or convicted is 7 to 3. Here you could infer a perfectly fair police/judicial policy consistent with the statistics.
Statistics matter, but here is the other important thing. Citizens on Island B, if they were unapprised of the fact that there are 70 black criminals and 30 white criminals on the island, may be protesting on the streets at the supposed 'discrimination' largely because they do not realise the ratio of black crime compared to whites.
Using the above logic, it's even possible for the police to be slightly biased in favour of blacks (perhaps to avoid appearing racist) yet still accused of racism by the black community. For example, if there are 70 black criminals and 30 white criminals on the island, and the ratio of blacks to whites getting shot, stopped and searched or convicted is 6 to 4 or 13 to 8, the ratio of police action against blacks is less than the ratio of black criminals compared to white, yet still, without the vital knowledge of the stats, giving the appearance of unfair discrimination.
Finally, one key subtext, though, which is really an overarching factor, is that murder rates astronomically peak at 18 to 24, and then tail off as young males get older. This also happens to be the period of their lives at which they are competing for mating opportunities - they have a biological legacy of selected attributes that serve the interests of species, and competing is a large part of that.
Obviously there are other concomitant factors, but the fact that the overwhelming majority of perpetrators of murder are young, unmarried men seeking to improve their status against sexual rivals is played out in virtually every region of the USA and Europe. It is a pattern transcendent of cultural determinism.