Sunday, March 25, 2012

Interracial murder

The Trayvon Martin case is an opportunity to remind people of the reality of interracial crime in the United States.

For the purposes of this analysis, I'll use the term "whites" to refer to whites plus Hispanics since they get lumped together in the data. According to FBI data for 2010,  218 blacks were murdered by whites. Blacks murdered 447 whites. But this is comparing apples and oranges since whites are 6.4 times the size of the black population. If we calculate murders per 10 million in the race-specific population (interracial murder is rare), the rate is 8.82 for whites and 114.89 for blacks. So blacks kill whites at a rate 13 times higher than that of whites killing blacks.

Another way to look at it is multiply the black population by 6.4 to make it as large as whites. If it were as large, 2861 whites would have been murdered compared to the 218 blacks killed by whites.


  1. Anonymous10:27 AM

    Here is a Google spreadsheet with the same data, but more ratios.

  2. Say, when's the last year where we have hispanic broken out as an OFFENDER category in the UCR?
    Seems we should calculate the ratios from that year.

  3. I don't know of any year with that kind of data.

  4. Ron,
    I've been finding it difficult to find old UCR's, but I'm pretty sure the change was in the 90s or early 2000s. The FBI's site has pdfs for them but they're just the table of contents and their tool doesn't seem to provide the data I'm looking for. I might have to visit an actual library government documents section!

  5. Anonymous6:04 PM

    To save some time and comment space, I'll give you the response from certain groups.



  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Wait a minute Mr. Bowery - the charitable assumption produces more total murders than the real figures. That surprises me, but I haven't looked closely at the numbers.

  8. Bob Arctor5:42 PM

    No, if murder rates were racially uniform and murders were completely random then the w-b and b-w murder rates would be exactly equal.

  9. Anonymous8:41 AM

    Yeah, the word "Hispanic" is just one more example of the US government showing off its remarkable stupidity.

    It means "people who come from ,or whose ancestors came from, certain countries where most people speak Spanish".

    Although the US government thinks that "Hispanic" is an ethnicity (as opposed to a race) in fact it is neither. It is a completely meaningless term.

    What it means in practice is something close to "AmerIndians". But it includes people of European origin as well - Marco Rubio is as white as I am but is still "Hispanic".

    Ideally this idiotic term would have a stake driven through its heart

  10. Anonymous6:58 PM

    The method of adjustment used in this post is simply wrong, violating the transitive principle of multiplication. To see this, consider a population consisting of 16% black and 84% white, in which whites and blacks were equally likely to murder, and murders happened indiscriminately across races. Then 84% of the murders would be committed by whites and 16% of their victims would be black people, so about 13% of all murders would be of black people by whites. Likewise, 16% of the murders would be committed by blacks, but 84% of those would be of whites, so about 13% of all murders would be of white people by blacks. If we found instead that 20% of all murders were of whites by blacks and 10% of blacks by whites, then this would mean that blacks were killing interracially at twice the rate of whites, not 13 times, as you calculate.

    Another way to think of the issue is this: In 2010, there were X contacts between whites and blacks. Let's say that number is 100 billion. In 218 of those contacts, a white murdered a black. In 447, a black murdered a white. The black-on-white murder rate per contact is exactly what it appears to be - about twice the white-on-black murder rate.

    In any case, this analysis of murder rates does not address the issue that angers black people about the Trayvon Martin case. They are concerned about the number of white killings of blacks that are ruled NOT to be murder. I don't know how large that number is, but I would be very surprised if it is not considerably larger than the number of black killings of whites that are ruled not to be murder, just as black people believe.

    How often were those rulings incorrect? I don't know, but certainly some of them were, and obviously many black people think the number of incorrect rulings is large.

  11. Anonymous9:07 PM

    Nice stat and all, but to get a true ratio you have to do something like (whites - hispanics) where hispanics equals non-white groups from Latin America.

  12. Anonymous9:53 PM

    You can't just look at the murder rate that way. You have to take into account the size of the potential victim population. The white population is much larger than the black population. If a black person randomly murders someone, that someone is likely to be white. If a white person randomly murders someone, that person is unlikely to be black. Therefore even if murders occur randomly, your method of analysis is going to show that black murders of whites far outnumber white murders of blacks.

  13. Anonymous1:38 AM

    "The method of adjustment used in this post is simply wrong, violating the transitive principle of multiplication...."

    completely agree with this entire post.

  14. Suppose murder were colorblind and random. Then in a population that is ten percent black and ninety percent white you would expect ninety percent of the victims of black murder to be white and only ten percent of the victims of white murder to black. This would not be evidence of racial hostility. I don't believe this analysis has taken this into account. Maybe I'm mistaken.

  15. Oops. I see anonymous above has already made my point. Anyway sometimes a reducto absurdum sheds light: if there were only one black in a population of, say, a million, then all black murder victims (if there were any) would be white and only an infinitesimal number of the victims of white murder would be black. It would prove nothing.

  16. Here is a different, perhaps more telling approach to the problem. Which would you rather be, an upper-middle-class white walking through a lower-class black neighborhood or an upper-middle-class black walking through a lower-class white neighborhood?

    Another interesting angle: suppose it were a hundred years ago in the Deep South in a small rural town. Would the choice have been the same? How about a hundred years ago in the North?

    Many years ago I missed the Columbia University subway stop going uptown so got off at 125th St (in Harlem) with the intention of walking back 25 blocks or so. I was barely on my way when a couple of middle-aged black women called out to me and in a very friendly say said I was probably unwise to be walking that way. I turned around and took the train back. What does this show? Hint -- more than one thing.

  17. Question: does the data in question refer to convictions? (I assume it does, or else how else would we know?)

    What about inconsistencies in conviction rates? I don't know that much about the latest data, but I have read some journal articles that address higher rates of convictions among blacks...

  18. brendanyc11:11 AM

    It seems to me that this comment, above, gets to the heart of the matter:

    "In any case, this analysis of murder rates does not address the issue that angers black people about the Trayvon Martin case. They are concerned about the number of white killings of blacks that are ruled NOT to be murder. I don't know how large that number is, but I would be very surprised if it is not considerably larger than the number of black killings of whites that are ruled not to be murder, just as black people believe."

    i don't think ANYone was surprised--even if very upset--that Martin was shot. This happens with disturbing commonness, and we are all, black and white, almost numb to it. (not quite numb, thank God, but almost.)
    it is what happened NEXT, or what did not and still has not happened that got people so upset. the failure to arrest Zimmerman, the fact that the body of the victim was tested for drugs and alcohol but the shooter was not, and so on--this pattern is making people crazy, and justifiably.

    by the way, the number of shootings, killings, whatever, compared between races or other groups has nothing to do with this particular case, and the 'justice' system's handling of it. i can't even figure out why some are raising this issue in the context of the Zimmerman/Martin case.

  19. Anonymous6:16 PM

    This calculation is flawed. The number of interactions between the black population and the white population is fixed on both sides. The number of times a white individual interacted with an individual black person is equal to the number of times a black individual interacted with a white person. This means that for each interaction the black person is about twice as likely to kill the white person as to be killed by the white person on each interaction. The minority is much more likely to interact with the majority than vice a versa your "13 times" rate is a reflection of the fact that many whites never even interact with a black person.

  20. murder is not the same as killing. 1. blacks are convicted at higher rates than whites for the same act, and convicted of higher level felonies for the same acts and receive longer sentences for the same crimes. 2. blacks are falsely convicted of murder at a much higher rate than blacks. the relative number of blacks later proven to have been wrongly prosecuted and mistakenly convicted is far higher. 3. all across all crime statistics blacks are prosecuted at higher rates, juries convict at higher rates, blacks serve longer sentences for the same crime. in addition the category black has virtually no scientific meaning. for example, tiger woods is less than one quarter African. he is 1/4 chinese. 1/4 thai. 1/8 american indian. 1/8 dutch. his 1 afro-american grandfather is mixed. so he is counted as a black. so called "white" hispanics such as ladinos are from 50% to 100% american indian. some blacks, such as the blacks living on islands off the coast of the carolinas north and south and georgia spoke dialects of yoruba, a nigerian language until the 1970s.

    black regions of Dutch and French Guyana and parts of Venezuela spoke actual Yoruba well into the 1970s. one group is counted as hispanic and "white" by immigration law and the other is "black" but the "blacks" are from 1/4 to 1/2 half white.

    what gets categorized as black or white has almost nothing to do with any rational definition of race.

    many black people get killed by whites and no white gets convicted because the killing is not prosecuted as murder. may not even be prosecuted at all. it is ruled "accidental" "assailant unknown"

    comparing "black" to "white" statistics without any other factors looked at at all is frankly racist. "white" and "black" are racist terms unrelated to anything biological. historically invented to justify chattel slavery in the Americas.

    African kings in the Gold Coast went and found "black" africans in the interior and sold them to "white" Portuguese and the Gold Coast Africans and the Portuguese sailors were the same color skin.

  21. Anonymous2:00 PM

    anonymous said

    ...If a black person randomly murders someone, that someone is likely to be white...

    your point is that blacks are victims of whites.

    we get it.

    if only more white people could die, then blacks would not be victim of having too many white targets to shoot at

    we get it

    when a black murders a white, it is the black who is the real victim

    we get it.

    what I do not get is why the number of people saying completely insane things is growing?

    and why the number of people who think it is not insane to say those things is also growing?

    what is happening? why has almost everyone lost their mind???

  22. There is a simple way out of this morass of counter-statistical argumentation. It is to pose the following question:

    Would you rather be the only white child introduced into an all-black school or the only black child introduced into an all-white school?

    Everyone instantly knows the answer to the question.

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