I actually saw this on Twitter over the weekend and assumed that it was just going to blow over, but since it involved a chance to take a shot at GOP frontrunner Donald Trump and included the subject of race, well… obviously it exploded. The Hill has a bit of a rundown on how it unfolded and it involved crime statistics and race. (Always a lively mix in the political arena.)
Donald Trump is taking heat on social media for a Sunday afternoon tweet of statistics purporting to show that the vast majority of murdered black people in the U.S. are killed by other black people.
The tweet was apparently Trump’s response to a Twitter thread about support from white supremacists for the GOP front-runner…
A drawing of a black man wielding a sideways pistol and wearing army pants, military boots and a bandana and mask accompanies the statistics, which are sourced to the “Crime Statistics Bureau” in San Francisco.
The chart in question, in case you missed it, was this one.
That’s a provocative set of numbers to be sure and when I first saw it I tweeted that it had some serious issues. For some reason I naively figured it would sink into the background, but it didn’t. The media was focusing on two aspects of the numbers presented, one which is correct and several of which are completely wrong. Before getting to the math we should note that the “Crime Statistics Bureau – San Francisco” seems to be entirely fictional. But on to the numbers.
The figure claiming that 1% of blacks are killed by police is silly. The number is well below 1%, but perhaps they were rounding up. The claim being derived from the chart in the media that “most blacks are killed by blacks” is mostly right, but the numbers are off on the high side. The percentage of whites killed by blacks is something out of a science fiction movie. Let’s abandon a graphic taken from a fictional statistics bureau and slide on over to a more real source of data… the FBI. They actually keep track of these things and the last year for which we have full numbers is 2013. Let’s take a peek.
A quick glance at this will confirm for you that we are a fairly tribal species and we stick to our own racial lanes in many ways, including killing each other. It’s true that the vast majority of blacks who are murdered are killed by other blacks, but 2,245 out of 2,491 works out to 90%, not 97. But as for the white murder victims, whites account for 84%. (2,509 out of 3005)
I think the spot where we come into some confusion over this is the proportional numbers. As a parallel, you’ll often hear the Black Lives Matter crew claiming that the vast majority of people killed by police are black. In reality, the majority of suspects killed by the cops are white, but it’s a fairly slim majority. So since black citizens only account for 13.2% of Americans, they are proportionally being killed by cops at a higher rate. That’s where that disagreement comes from and the same applies here.
Of course, this numbers game plays both ways and that may be where the disconnect on the murder figures come in. It’s true that whites commit more murders in the United State (2,509 vs 2,245 for black offenders) but when you mix in the proportionality aspect of it the same bend in the curve applies. If all factors were completely race neutral, out of 3005 murders in 2013 you would expect to see 397 murders committed by black suspects rather than 2,245 so they’re punching way above their weight class in that regard.
In the end, there was some truth on both sides, but if we are to be honest in this political debate we have to stick to the facts. That chart was wrong pretty much across the board and wildly so in a few categories. There’s no harm in having this debate, no matter how much the feelings of the SJW may be hurt, but we should at least rely on accurate data.
EDIT: (Jazz) While I never claimed that Donald Trump “tweeted” this chart, it was at least implied in the Hill article I linked. It was pointed out to me in the comments that Trump retweeted the chart, which is true. So there you go. That’s been noted, even though this post dealt with the figures being cited rather than who originated it. As most of us put in our profiles, retweets do not necessarily = endorsements, so we’ll give The Donald the same benefit of the doubt.)