In light of everything that has been going on recently regarding the death of George Floyd to the violent riots that have occurred in the aftermath in cities all over the world, there has never been a greater time to issue a call to peace.
As a teacher, I have always been taught to be “data driven.” It is important that we can honestly look at the numbers in order to have an honest conversation about them. So, let’s take a look at the number of people who have been shot to death by police by race from 2017 to 2020.
According to the Washington Post, 1,004 people were shot and killed by police in 2019 total and 996 deaths in 2018. These statistics do not indicate the race of the officer or the victim, whether or not the victim was armed or unarmed, whether the officer was acting in accordance with standard protocol, or whether these are instances of genuine “police brutality.”
In 2018, there were 11,970 murders in the United States. 5,280 of those murders were committed by white people, and 6,380 murders were committed by black people.
Source: OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book. Estimated number of arrests by offense and race, 2018. Available: https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/crime/ucr.asp?table_in=2. Released on October 31, 2019.
When we compare the rate of murders to the breakdown of the national population, we find that 60% of the population (white people) committed 44% of the murders while African Americans comprising only 13% of the population are responsible for 53% of the murders. The majority of those murders are actually black-on-black crimes.
Source: “US Census Bureau July 1 2019 Estimates”. United States Census Bureau. July 2019. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
Now, I know that there are corrupt police officers – just as there are corrupt politicians, doctors, lawyers, teachers, and more. In every single job, you will find people who are committing unspeakably evil acts against others.
But let’s say for the sake of argument that every single time that a police officer shoots and kills someone is an instance of police brutality, that means that 209 African Americans would have been unjustly murdered at the hands of cops while 6,830 people were murdered by African Americans in that same time frame. And there were 399 white people that would have been unjustly murdered by police in the same year that white people were guilty of murdering 5,280 people.
We should actively seek to end police brutality as we should seek to end all other crimes.
However, the data is clear that while police brutality is certainly an issue that needs to be addressed, there is an even greater issue within the African American community. The issue is not a race problem, but a heart problem.
In 2018, there were 667,787 reported cases of child abuse in the United States. Here is the breakdown of those cases by race.
Source: Child Maltreatment, 2018. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Administration for Children and Families Administration on Children, Youth and Families Children’s Bureau , 2018, www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/cm2018.pdf.
Once again, we see a disproportionate number of child abuse cases within the African American and Hispanic communities given their respective percentage of the general population.
60% of the population (white) is guilty of 44% of the child abuse cases.
18% of the population (Hispanic) is guilty of 22% of the child abuse cases.
13% of the population (African American) is guilty of 21% of the child abuse cases.
6% of the population (Asian) is guilty of just 0.9% of the child abuse cases.
1% of the population (Native American) is guilty of 1.4% of the child abuse cases.
Something is going on within these communities of color.
I’m sure there are many other data points to analyze that could be contributing factors: socioeconomic status, fatherlessness, religious beliefs and more. However, there is something drastically wrong when we are confronted by the fact that there are five children murdered each day in the United States due to child abuse – and no one is willing to talk about that.
We cannot in good faith say that black lives matter or that “all lives matter” without addressing the issue of violence that is occurring right in our own homes. We must begin a radical transformation of the way that we parent our children. We must end the cycles of abuse and violence within our homes before we are able to see real and lasting change in our communities.
How can we teach our children to be patient while we are impatient with them?
How can we teach our children to be polite while we yell and curse at and/or around them?
How can we teach our children to be kind while we hit them?
How can we teach our children to be forgiving while we insist on punishing them without forgiveness or mercy?
How can we teach our children to be self-controlled while we insist on attempting to control them?
How can we teach our children to be happy while we ignore our children when they are feeling sad?
How can we teach our children to be problem solvers while we view them as the problem?
How can we teach our children to be respectful while we act and speak disrespectfully to them, about them and around them?
How can we teach our children to be loving while we pass on our own anger and hate?
How can we teach our children to be peaceful when we do not know how to live in peace within ourselves and those within our own homes?
If WE do not change, our world never will.
It’s time to answer the call – the call to peace.