Eric Holder (who seems to regard his job description as being pretty much the same as Jesse Jackson's these days) addressed the NAACP on Tuesday and told members attending the group's 104th annual convention to peacefully confront "the unfortunate stereotypes" that sometimes lead police and others to be unduly suspicious of blacks and make "misjudgments" about them.
To describe a stereotype as "unfortunate" is not quite the same as calling it inaccurate; but that's certainly the implication. And it does nothing to explore the question of why such "misjudgments" are commonplace. Let's take a cold-eyed look at the statistics.
Nationwide, according to statistics from the Department of Justice -- headed by Eric Holder -- blacks commit 53% of all homicides. (Note to Eric: better stop keeping those types of records, they encourage "misjudgments.") And the vast majority of homicides committed by blacks are committed by young men. So we're not really talking about the 12% of the population that is black; we're not even talking about the 6% of the population which is both black and male; we're talking about young black males between the ages of 15 and 30, which is roughly 2% of the overall population. The percentage of homicides committed by this group is not quite the 53% number quoted above, but probably in the vicinity of 45%, since females and older blacks do commit some homicides.
With 2% of the population committing 45% of the homicides, what sane person wouldn't be a little more leery of that 2%? How willfully blind would you have to be not to notice this? Especially if your job is in law enforcement.
This is certainly not to say that most young black men are criminals. There was another statistic which got a lot of play a few years ago, which is that of all college age black males, 25% are either in prison, on probation, or on parole. That means that 75% are law-abiding. (Or, at least, haven't yet been convicted of a crime; but let's say for argument's sake they're law-abiding.)
If I were one of the 75%, being harassed by the police would probably get on my nerves -- as I have said in this blog before. I might even grow to hate the police after a while. But I would also resent my criminal brethren who created the suspicion in the first place. This latter reaction seems to be completely anathema to Eric Holder or any other black spokesperson.
If cops went out of their way to stop and frisk old black church ladies, I would be the first to say they were doing so for purely racial reasons. I would even call them racist. But, they don't do that.
They are, however, far more likely to stop and frisk young black men who fit a certain profile. I call that commonsensical.