Comment in response to this article by Leonard Pitts, writer for the Miami Herald 03/19/2011
You claim to be presenting “objective fact” and rue the idea that no one gets it. That your article will be futile, I agree. But it will be futile because you have not and will not present “objective fact”.
“For instance, in her book, The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander reports that white kids are a third more likely to have sold drugs than black kids. But in some states, blacks account for up to 90 percent of all drug offenders in prison.” Thus your column infers drug arrests must be racially motivated.
Michelle Alexander claims, “white kids are a third more likely” to deal drugs. This is clever word usage designed more to hide information than provide it. Let’s assume any randomly selected drug dealer has a 33% probability of being black. But if that drug dealer is 1/3 more likely to be white then a randomly selected drug dealer has a 44% probability of being white. We can assume a 23% probability of the drug dealer being Hispanic or Asian or of mixed race.
Out of every 100 drug dealers then about 33 are black and 44 are white. Thus “white kids are a third more likely to have sold drugs”. But black’s only constitute about 13% of our population while whites are about 80%. If we look at any random sample of 100,000 Americans and of those we assume 100 are drug dealers then of those drug dealers 33 are likely to be black and 44 likely to be white. But in that same 100,000 population sample only 13,000 are black and 80,000 are white. The rest being of other races. (See U.S. Census Bureau Quick Facts)
That suggests a 0.254% probability of a black being a drug dealer and a 0.055% probability of a white being a drug dealer [33/13,000=0.254% and 44/80,000=0.055%]. This means blacks are 4.6 times more likely to be a drug dealer than whites [0.0254/0.055=4.62]. Is that racist Mr. Pitts? If random members of the black race are nearly 5 times more likely to be drug dealers than random members of the white race then isn’t it “objective fact” that they are far more likely to end up in jail?
Other questions regard the nature of the drug offense. Is the drug dealer who only sells marijuana more likely to be white or black? Is the drug dealer who sells powder cocaine more likely to be white or black? Is the drug dealer who sells crack cocaine more likely to be white or black? Is the drug dealer who sells methamphetamine more likely to be white or black? Is the drug dealer who sells heroin more likely to be white or black? Mr. Pitts you claim “objective fact” but all I read is subjective bias. You and Michelle Alexander conflate various types of drug offenses together as if selling heroin on a street corner is no more offensive than selling a nickel bag of marijuana to a college buddy. You obscure “facts” with sophistry.
And that sir, is why your column is so futile. You continuously harp on the racial makeup of statistical outcomes and rarely harp on the choices being made by individuals. In so doing you drive a wedge between those of us who expect individuals to make responsible choices and to enjoy (or not) the obligations thereof and those who seek to have the state provide an outcome. It is not racist to ask why so many black children are born out of wedlock yet few black leaders complain publicly. It is not racist to ask why so many black children grow up without a father yet few black leaders complain publicly. It is not racist to ask why so many black males have criminal records while black leaders only complain about the racist police instead of stupid choices made by individuals. Instead of challenging the choices members of your racial community make you charge the white population with racism and then demand that the state force an alternative outcome regardless of choices individuals make. If expecting individuals to make responsible choices about their lives means that I am racist then so be it.
And for the record, it is objective fact that most murders are committed within racial categories. That is most blacks are killed by other blacks and most whites are killed by other whites. Indeed, in all cases most often by someone they know.