Deconstructing Apologia: The Economist Magazine Sugarcoats Police Racism Toward Black Motorists

The Economist. Apparently more Black people need better driving lessons
[Speaking Truth To Empower]
The Economist, the British weekly magazine, highlighted an obnoxious excuse for police violence against Black people in the U.S.
The magazine recently published a report on racial policing disparities involving Black American drivers. The headline of the article itself is very promising — “Black Drivers in America Face Discrimination by the Police”– but then the article itself, in part, highlights one obnoxious excuse police sometimes give; that it’s not racism that accounts for the discrimination but  “race-specific differences in driving behaviors.”
Being Black makes one drive more recklessly—and illegally—than Whites and thereby warrants stops? How far is the brain willing to go to whitewash abuse of Black people?
This is disingenuous backward journalism. We don’t need this at a time when White supremacy resurges worldwide as evidenced by the New Zealand massacre which killed 50 Muslims. We should all be against prejudiced policing which victimizes—and far too often kills Blacks.
Does The Economist really believe Black Americans, uniquely, just don’t properly observe driving laws?
Was the Coast Guard veteran Walter Scott, 50, shot in the back dead by South Carolina officer Michael Slager, because of “race-specific differences in driving behaviors”? What about 28-year-old Sandra Bland who ended up dead in a Texas jail after a stop by a White officer? What of Philando Castile, pulled over while driving in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, and killed by Jeronimo Yanez, a St. Anthony, Minnesota police officer? The examples are numerous.
In a March 15th “Daily Chart” article The Economist tells us a 2013 Justice Department study found “Black drivers were 31% more likely to be pulled over than White ones.” The article says, “other interactions with law enforcement are characterized by similar racial imbalances.” These findings surely won’t surprise Black Americans.
After talking about these “racial imbalances,” –instead of saying “discrimination”–  the article makes the perplexing pronouncement: “Such figures do not by themselves prove that bias is to blame. It is hard to distinguish how much of this imbalance can be attributed to race-specific differences in driving behaviors—such as adherence to traffic laws or the amount of time spent on roads in areas where police are present.”
“Race-specific differences….”? Sort of how American slavery was very race-specific?
Why would The Economist entertain such nonsense? By this reasoning White people are somehow more law-abiding drivers? So it’s not that police officers purposely target Blacks, and by extension, ignore White motorists? Isn’t the Economist aware that even Black pedestrians are also disproportionately targeted? Surely the editors and writers know of stop-and-frisk?
Let me introduce The Economist to more racism reports.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union’s 2013 report, “The War on Marijuana in Black and White,” a “Black person is 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a White person, even though Blacks and Whites use marijuana at similar rates. Such racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests exist in all regions of the country.”
How would The Economist explain this? White people are smarter? They smoke pot more law-abidingly?
This 2013 ACLU report concluded: “the War on Marijuana, like the larger War on Drugs of which it is a part, is a failure. It has needlessly ensnared hundreds of thousands of people in the criminal justice system, had a staggeringly disproportionate impact on African-Americans, and comes at a tremendous human and financial cost.”
The only thing the ACLU report has wrong is: The War on Drugs was not “a failure,” since its real purpose was to incarcerate high numbers of Black Americans—while making money off Black people.
The Economist should also know this about stop-and-frisk: NYPD statistics show Blacks and Latinos are stopped 90 percent of the time—while Whites are stopped less than 10 percent of the time. More interestingly, the same data from the NYPD shows although Whites were stopped at a much more minuscule rate, Whites were found more often than Blacks and Latinos, not only with drugs—but with guns as well. The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) says “Black and Latino New Yorkers were more likely to be frisked than Whites and were less likely to be found with a weapon.”
In 2012, the New York Office of the Public Advocate released a report which said “The likelihood a stop of an African-American New Yorker yielded a weapon was half that of White New Yorkers stopped. The NYPD uncovered a weapon in one out every 49 stops of White New Yorkers. By contrast, it took the Department 71 stops of Latinos and 93 stops of African Americans to find a weapon.” The Public Advocate also noted “The likelihood a stop of an African-American New Yorker yielded contraband was one-third less than that of White New Yorkers stopped. The NYPD uncovered contraband in one out every 43 stops of White New Yorkers. By contrast, it took the Department 57 stops of Latinos and 61 stops of African Americans to find contraband.”
It would appear—by the NYPD’s own data—that Blacks are more law-abiding than Whites.
Given these statistics, one can surely ask: why aren’t more White people stopped by police? If police stopped more White men, in particular, isn’t it probable more homicidal maniacs, like Las Vegas shooter Steven Paddock; and Pittsburg Tree of Life Synagogue shooter Robert Bowers, would’ve be apprehended before they committed atrocities?
The Economist’s article has another thing contradicting the apologia: the title itself. This “Daily Chart” article title is: “Black Drivers in America Face Discrimination by the Police.” The title is a problematic paradox to this idea of “race-specific differences” isn’t it?
The Economist’s article apparently, in part, relied on research from the Stanford Policing Project—which started, in 2015, to track police interactions with civilians. According to Stanford, “The Stanford Open Policing Project [is]— a unique partnership between the Stanford Computational Journalism Lab and the Stanford Computational Policy Lab.” The Economist article may’ve relied too much on the words of the Stanford folk.
In Stanford’s report, which used data “from 21 state patrol agencies and 29 municipal police departments, comprising nearly 100 million traffic stops,” they admitted to finding “significant racial disparities in policing.” But Stanford claims “These disparities can occur for many reasons: differences in driving behavior, to name one.” Stanford then says, “in some cases, we find evidence that bias also plays a role.”
Black Americans don’t need The Economist, or Stanford, to tell us there’s deeply built-in bigotry against Blacks among American police. The long awful history of brutal bigoted American policing—and outright violent oppression of Blacks, which continues—is all the evidence we need.
Here’s historical background on American Policing The Economist and Stanford should consider.
Dr. Victor E. Kappler—a professor at Eastern Kentucky University, and a former police officer—in the article “A Brief History of Slavery and The Origins of American Policing” said: “The birth and development of the American police can be traced to a multitude of historical, legal and political-economic conditions. The institution of slavery and the control of minorities, however, were two of the more formidable historic features of American society shaping early policing. Slave patrols and Night Watches, which later became modern police departments, were both designed to control the behaviors of minorities.”
Dr. Gary Potter, another professor at Eastern Kentucky University School of Justice, says in The History of Policing Part One, that slave patrols were “vigilante-style organizations” that “evolved in modern Southern police departments.” Dr. Potter pointed out a primary goal of slave patrols was to “provide a form of organized terror.” American police continue to terrorize Black Americans.
The Economist and Stanford should also know some brave police officers have exposed the institutional racism existing within American policing. For example, in New York City, Officers Pedro Serrano, Adhyl Polanco and Adrian Schoolcraft all made recordings highlighting the prejudicial quota-driven policing policy of the NYPD.
In fact, Officer Serrano recorded NYPD Deputy Inspector Christopher McCormack saying to use the stop-and-frisk tactic on the “right people at the right time; the right location.” When Officer Serrano asked for clarification Inspector McCormack said, “I have no problem telling you this: male Blacks 14 to 20, 21.” McCormack’s message: Blacks who don’t live in White wealthy areas like Park Avenue.
Institutional White racism is deeply embedded in American policing. It victimizes—and kills—Black Americans on a regular basis. Politicians, and those in the press, like The Economist, do us a monumental disservice by sugarcoating that awful truth.

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