I have a real issue with statistics, especially those depicting the condition of the black community. There seems to be a perpetual insistence on the part of black and white people to push a narrative of the black community to match either one’s agenda, pathology or perception. And as is the case with most statistics, depending on the criteria utilized, you can get the numbers to say almost anything. I won’t bore you with the gory details, there are many sites pointing out the statistical myths of the black community and you can read about them here and here. What I would like to address is how these myths and pathology impede the progress and in some cases lead to the destruction of the black community.
The reason social science research exist is to not only convey what is taking place within a socio-economic group, but to act as a baseline of facts in creating public policy that address disparities shortcomings within our society. The research provides the basis of forming an opinion and if the research is flawed then it can only result in flawed analysis then flawed policy thereafter. For example, the narrative that there are more black men in prison than in college would lead one to think that obviously black people partake in crime at a higher rate than to do education.
We know this is false and especially so when we compare the number of college-age black men that are in school with those that are in prison. The myth is disturbing because it perpetuates the idea that black men are far more dangerous and less educated than we actually are. The spree of unarmed black people killed at the hands of police and others that result in no convictions is evident that there is some justification in believing that black people are to be feared first. Considering the history of this country, it is inconceivable that anyone would continue to push a narrative that makes black and white interaction a contentious endeavor, but it is happening daily.
Just as problematic, however, is that politicians advocate and pass legislation based on myths. In the 80’s Ronald Reagan made famous the term “Welfare Queens”. This painted the picture of a black woman wearing fur coats, driving a Caddy, while drinking from the public trough. What happened next was a concerted effort to dismantle the social safety net. the idea of black people living high off the hog on the tax dollars of suburban America was offensive; never mind the fact that black people aren’t the primary recipients of welfare or that welfare fraud isn’t as big of a problem as politicians suggest. The results are a weakened social safety net, a decreased emphasis on eradicating poverty; hurting families of every ethnic background.
Bottom Line: When discussing issues (and I in no way claim that there aren’t serious issues) within the black community it helps to have an accurate picture of the facts. Creating pathologies out of thin are and repeating false narratives that are rooted in ignorance, fear and “fuzzy statistics” is a disservice to the community and only perpetuates the problems.by