Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Lynching is ancient history


An anonymous reader cited statistics in my earlier post, presumably to show that lynchings were a larger problem than I indicated. My main point was not that lynching was not a serious problem, but rather that most incidents happened prior to 1950. Allow me to comment on the reader's numbers. The first study he cites by Raper is for the years 1989 to 1930. The period from the 192os to the 1930s saw a huge decline in lynchings. This is shown in the above graph. The whole decade of the 1950s--a troubled time for race relations--experienced only 6 black executions. This was the point of my post: there have been very few black lynchings in the last 50 years. Race activists paint a picture of America that has been murdering blacks up until the week before last, but you have to go back 80 years before you find 50 of these victims in a year among a population of over 10 million people.
Let's get some perspective here. With 6 lynchings in the decade of the 50s with 15 million blacks, the annual risk of this kind of murder was .00399 per 100,000 blacks. According to the CDC, the risk of murder for blacks--a crime usually perpetrated by another black--was 21.7 per 100,000 in 2003 (most recent year available). That risk is 5,439 times higher than the risk of being lynched in the 50s. Even if some lynchings were never recorded, there is no possible way that these two risks are in the same ballpark.

I also notice some things in the numbers cited. An accusation of rape was generally not the motivation for the killing, so it is myth that lynchings were motivated by whites who were hysterical about black male/white female sexual contact. In the two cites, lynchings of whites are not directly discussed. According to the source I cited (evidently the same source used by Wikipedia which was also cited) over that same period of 1882-1968, 27.4% or 1,297 of lynch victims were white. It is convenient to ignore white victims since it is easier to portray this phenomenon as pure, rabid hate crime instead of something much more complicated.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

THE REALITY OF THE MATTER IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT THE "SO-CALLED" NUMBERS ARE FOR HOW MANY BLACKS WERE LYNCHED. JUST THE FACT THAT THEY WERE LYNCHED IS WHAT MATTES. UNFORTUNATELY, YOU ARE PROBABLY NOT EVEN A PERSON OF COLOR SO AT ANY RATE YOU WOULD NEVER UNDERSTAND.

Old Atlantic said...

Thanks for the courage to write this. We need to be able to put facts together to understand. Those who say we can't do that are not those we should listen to.

There has to be space to analyze data. That space needs to be calm or we can't state hypotheses, test them, and improve them. As you write, lynching is complicated.

Blode0322 said...

The whole decade of the 1950s--a troubled time for race relations--experienced only 6 black executions. - Ron the Non-Person of Color

Hey, run that by me again. Only 6 black executions by lynching? That I certainly believe, although I wouldn't call a lynching "an execution". Only six black judicial executions? That would be a surprise