"Blacks are under attack," said the Rev. Jesse Jackson, irresponsibly turning the Florida shooting death of an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin, at the hands of Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman into a barometer of black-white "race-relations."
President Barack Obama, three years past his inauguration as American's first black president, weighed in, too. As when he accused the Cambridge police of "acting stupidly," Obama injected race, but this time a little less directly: "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon."
The implication, of course, is that race undoubtedly played a role in the death of Trayvon Martin. A special prosecutor as well as a Florida grand jury will examine the case, re-interview all the witnesses and go over all the evidence. Zimmerman may well be charged with murder, and a racially motivated one at that. Or the prosecutor may find the evidence insufficient to convince a jury that Zimmerman did not act in self-defense.
No matter whether Zimmerman is charged or convicted, a tragedy occurred. But is Jesse Jackson right, that the death of Trayvon Martin suggests "blacks are under attack," presumably by racist non-blacks?
True, black men, especially young ones, stand a much greater chance of being murdered than white males. But almost all murders involve a victim and a killer of the same race. Yes, instances of black-white murder -- as, for example, when James Byrd, a black man of Jasper, Texas, was dragged to his death by three white men -- do exist. But nationally, according to the Department of Justice, 53 percent of known homicide suspects in 2010 were identified as black -- although blacks comprise only 13 percent of the population. And in murders involving a single black victim and a single offender, 90 percent of the time it is a black perpetrator who murders the black victim. Similarly, 83 percent of whites are murdered by other whites.
What happened in Sanford, Fla. -- a white person killing a black person -- is extremely infrequent, occurring in 8 percent of black homicides. In saying "blacks are under attack," Jackson paints a picture of whites targeting and hunting down black males.
Look at the 2010 stats for New York City. While blacks comprise about 25 percent of the city's population, blacks accounted for two-thirds of murder victims. For black homicide suspects arrested, 85 percent of their victims were also black.
The leading causes of death for all young men ages 15 to 29, according to a 2006 Kaiser Family Foundation study, regardless of race or ethnicity, are unintentional injury (e.g., car accident, firearm or drowning), suicide and homicide. Not for young black men. The No. 1 cause of death in this demographic is murder. The homicide death rate for young (ages 15 to 24) African American men (85 per 100,000 persons) is three times the rate for young Hispanic men (30 per 100,000 population), the population group with the next highest homicide mortality rate. The rates for young Asian and young white males are 9.8 and 5 per 100,000, respectively.
In one recent Chicago weekend, 49 people were shot, 10 fatally, including a 6-year-old black girl. Did President Obama issue a statement? Black-on-black crime, like black-on-white crime, does not fit the liberal media's narrative of the continuing problem of white racism.
How selective is the outrage about interracial crime -- when the bad guy is black?
Ken Tillery, in 2002, walked down a Jasper, Texas, road. Three men offered him a ride. But the men kidnapped Tillery, driving him to a remote location. John Perazzo of FrontPageMagazine.com describes what happened: "When the terrified Tillery jumped out of the vehicle and tried to flee, the kidnappers caught up with him, beat him and finally ran over him -- dragging him to his death beneath their car's undercarriage."
Same town, a few years after the James Byrd murder, a black-white murder in the same fashion -- by dragging a man to his death -- but no story! Why? Well, Tillery was white, and the three suspects were all black. The irony alone would, one would think, guarantee lots of coverage. But how much coverage did the case get? An online search of 557 newspapers found that 22 covered the story.
In a scene from "Menace II Society," a movie about the struggles of inner-city black youth, a tough black high school teacher advises two black male students: "Being a black man in American isn't easy. The hunt is on -- and you're the prey." We hear a police siren in the background as the teacher gives his admonition -- just in case the identity of the hunter is unclear. But reality tells a very different story, one that even Jesse Jackson once acknowledged.
In 1994, in an unguarded moment while discussing urban crime, Jackson told an interviewer he's relieved when the footsteps on the street behind him belong to white -- rather than black -- feet.
Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an "Elderado," visit http://www.LarryElder.com