Friday, August 21, 2009

Safety Joe

In this post, the author writes,

"living in a place like Oakland forces every one of us to subconsciously deal with race every day.

Like many cities, Oakland is virtually color-coded. It’s a largely segregated city, with Black regions in the West and East of the city, Hispanic areas on down International Blvd, etc.

Anyone who looks at the statistics knows the risk of being victimized by crime is also a color-coded situation. I remember reading somewhere that, if a Black and non-Black man pass each other on the street, the Black man has 1/500 the probability of being assaulted by the non-Black as vice-versa.

Knowing facts like these, it would be irrational for a white man to ignore race when walking around Oakland."

I responded,

I am a white man who grew up in Oakland and has lived here his whole life. The problem with your article is that from the get-go it is framed as though whiteness is some kind of innocent, vulnerable quality.

I don't know where you found that 1/500 statistic, but even if it true, do you know how miniscule the chances of you getting killed by a black man are? Sure, you might get your wallet stolen if you're in the wrong place, but the chances of you getting murdered are tiny. Want some evidence? Take a look at this map:

How many white people are on this list? Exactly two, out of 114. Seeing as how there are more white people in Oakland than there are Blacks (34% versus 30%), that might allow us to recognize that it is much more dangerous to be Black in Oakland than to be white.

Here is a quote from the US Bureau of Justice Statistics:
"Blacks accounted for 13% of the U.S. population in 2005, but were victims in 15% of all nonfatal violent crimes and nearly half of all homicides."

I'm not saying this to solicit your guilt. I hope, rather, that this will alleviate some of your attachment to the thought that we can and should move "beyond race." Clearly, this is not going to happen anytime soon. A good example of this is the fact that, living in Oakland, white people are pretty much safe from murder. Yes, there are exceptions, and the possessions of white people, which are many and valuable, are certainly not safe. But you need to realize that the reason race is an issue is because it actually brings with it enormous life-and-death consequences, and not just for the white man.

1 comment:

  1. just move to Portland and you can avoid the whole awkward issue all together lol. but seriously this guy seems to be an idiot. poor people commit crime in their own neighborhoods. they don't migrate to wealthy suburbs. The Watts riots happened in Watts, not in Beverly hills..unfortunately