Homicide and Racial Discrimination

It is more likely fort a black man killing a white man to be found guilty than for a white one killing a black one. That is not new. Yet because so many are not yet convinced and because the judicial system does not yet reflect that reality, any study that reinforces  that fact, needs to be mentioned and noticed.  The Marshall Project which specializes in the criminal justice system did an examination where they looked at 400,000 homicides committed by civilians between 1980 and 2014. They found that when one person killed another, one out of every 100 homicides were found justified. But when a white person killed a black man, 17 out of 100 homicides were found justified. The thing is that to prove racial discrimination with such statistics—and others in the article—is difficult and not definitive. But pointing in the right direction is far more possible. For example there are factors that can more directly involve race. In self-defense cases, for instance, if the killer can show that he or she felt threatened, that they believed their life was in danger, then the killing according to the law can be justifiable. So when a white person feels threatened by a black person and kills him or her and it is found justifiable, the issue of race does not need to be factored in, although it may have been a factor, and a determining one at that. Someone may feel threatened because someone is black, yet their own perception of race, their own predispositions to think of a black man as violent is not at issue.  We have seen this play out in the defense of several police officers who shot black men and teens where their plea of self-defense is legally justifiable but not morally so. I found the result of this examination all the more relevant for validating, albeit indirectly, the anger so many of us feel at the way racial discrimination manifest itself throughout the criminal justice system.  The fact is that the racist attitudes of our society may not be factored in a court of law, but they nevertheless exist and are harming lives.