5 Things You Didn’t Know About Black-on-Black Crime

by Legal 12 January 2022

Black-on-Black Crime

When it comes to violence against Black Americans, the focus is often on violence perpetrated by White Americans on Black Americans. Even the Black Lives Matter movement is largely centered around the actions of White individuals – primarily police officers – against Black individuals.

But what about Black-on-Black crime? Why isn’t Black-on-Black crime a center of attention and vocalization? Of course, lawmakers will speak out against Black-on-Black crime when there are significant issues, like the looting and vandalizing in Atlanta that took place after the BLM protests in 2020.

Often, such attempts are viewed as a means of distracting people from issues like police brutality. Many people also believe that speaking out about the criminal cases that mean of delegitimizing the BLM movement and what it stands for.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Black-on-Black Crime

5 Things You Didn't Know About Black-on-Black Crime

There is no question that racial inequality exists in the criminal justice system. But is it just White-on-Black crimes, or does it also affect Black-on-Black crimes? Let’s consider this as we look at 5 things you likely don’t know about Black-on-Black crime in America.

1. The History of the Phrase Black-on-Black Crime

The phrase ‘Black-on-Black crime’ as it is used today dates back to 1979. In an issue of Ebony Magazine, the phrase was used to describe how most big-city crimes are committed by Black individuals upon Black individuals.

The phrase ultimately dates back much further than that, as far back as 1896 when author Frederick L. Hoffman described the Black community as having a “special crime problem”.

2. The Phrase is Categorically Racist

While there is no similar discussion of White-on-White crime, statistics show that most crimes are committed by members of the same race. The FBI’s Universal Crime Report (2014) showed that 90% of Black people killed were killed by Black people. Only 14% of White people killed were killed by Black people.

Black-on-Black crime is placed under a microscope and is often a catalyst for more aggressive policing and higher incarceration rates among Black people. Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, Khalil Gibran Muhammad says,

“We certainly understand when someone makes a categorical claim about an entire group of people as a race of criminals, that that is in fact a racist idea.”

3. Black-on-Black Crime is Used as a Political Weapon

Republicans and Democrats alike have used the phrase ‘Black-on-Black crime’ as a political weapon.

In the 1980’s, it was a catalyst for more aggressive policing and jailing of Black Americans. In the 21st Century, it has been used as a means of pushing political agenda during campaigns.

4. Black-on-Black Crime is Just Crime

When the term Black-on-Black crime is used, it insinuates that Black people are more violent than any other race. That simply isn’t true. As discussed above, most violence is perpetrated by people of the same race, mostly due to proximity.

Since so many areas of America are still segregated, it makes sense. But people don’t use the phrase White-on-White crime to describe crimes in the White community.

That leads to the assumption that the phrase Black-on-Black crime is only used as a derogatory way of describing Black Americans.

5. Black-on-Black Crime Can be Fixed

There are things that lawmakers can do to fix the systemic issues that are perpetuated by phrases like Black-on-Black crime.

Instead of simply telling Black people not to kill other Black people, lawmakers need to enact better laws and put more funding into supporting Black communities and reducing crime in those areas.

The Final Thoughts

There are systemic racial issues in the criminal justice system, but that is only one part of the bigger picture. To truly fix these issues, lawmakers, advocates, and the general public need to recognize the scope of the issue and propose real change.

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