Black-on-black violence = Self-hate?

Many of us have heard commentary about how black-on-black violence/murder is crippling the black community and how it represents a form of self-hatred. But how much evidence is there to support this belief? I went to the August 2007 special report, Black Victims of Violent Crime, produced by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and found some data speaking to the issue. They report that between 2001 and 2005, 77% of blacks were victimized by other blacks. And in 2005 93% of black homicide victims were killed by other blacks. Pretty disturbing.

It may seem logical to make the leap to saying there is something really abnormal about blacks being so violent towards members of their own ethnic group; that is, until you look at the white crime patterns and find similar trends. 70% of white violent crime victims are committed by whites and 85% of white homicide victims were murdered by whites. It appears that intraracial violent crime is actually the norm.

Now, this is in NO way excusing or minimizing the violence problem in the black community. It would be ignorant to say we don’t have a problem just because intraracial crime is “normal.” It is a fact that homicide is the leading cause of death among black men ages 15-34; there is absolutely no way of getting around admitting this to be a tremendous problem. But does the fact alone that the majority of black homicide victims are killed by blacks mean that we posses a dysfunctional self-hatred? I’d say not, unless one believes that self-hate also motivates white violent crime. There may be plenty of other compelling arguments one can make to this point, but this is not one of them.


8 Responses to “Black-on-black violence = Self-hate?”

  1. 1 Neuman October 24, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    I’m not about to say that black-on-black violence is categorically a manifestation of self hate, partially because I have no idea why the vast majority of black murder victims were killed by other black people. However, I am not sure I agree with your conclusion that this categorically cannot be a cause for this sad phenomenon. You set out to prove a negative: black-on-black crime is not a result of self hate. But, how can you rely on statistics capturing white-on-white murders to make this point? The fact that intraracial killing appears to be the norm across the board can only support your conclusion if you assume that white-on-white killing is also not motivated by self hate.

    Moreover, you can’t simply look at who got killed by whom to draw any conclusion respecting the motivation to kill. This analysis must be done in context.

  2. 2 Mike October 24, 2007 at 3:58 pm

    Good point. You are right, to truly make the point that it is not self-hate, one would have to assume that white-on-white crime is also not motivated by self-hate. But the other part of what I was using the stats to look at (which I admit, was not best represented in the title/question) was whether this intraracial phenomenon represented something abnormal about blacks. The numbers answer this question more definitively–it is not unique to blacks. You would either need to conclude that *people* who kill people do so out of self-hate or people who do so do it for some other reason (which we can’t tell from these stats).

    To address your point, I’d change (which I may do) the following to include the bracketed statement, “But does the fact alone that the majority of black homicide victims are killed by blacks mean that we possess a dysfunctional self-hatred? I’d say not [unless you also believe that whites kill each other out of self-hate]”.

  3. 3 Neuman October 24, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    I think your bracketed language helps make a much stronger point. I’m still not sure that gets you all the way home though. I think the real answer lies in contextualizing these numbers. What if, for example, the numbers reveal that the majority of white-on-white homicides were committed during fits of passion. Thousands and thousands these scenarios: Archie comes home and Edith is having sex with Meathead, and Archie loses it. He murders Edith and Meathead. Conversely, what if the numbers reveal that the majority of black-on-black homicides are committed in some manner associated with other illegal activity, like drug dealing. Hypothetically, isn’t there a plausible point to be made that black homicide associated with drug dealing is a form of self hate insofar as black life in this context is devalued to levels below profit margin for drug sales.

    And if you reject this argument, isn’t your only rejoinder to point out that intraracial murder can never signify self hate in blacks (or whites) because in modern society there is no mechanism for understanding others as connected to “self”? Murder, understood this way, is not self hate. It’s just hate.

    Also, I wonder whether you’ve given any thought to the source of the link between black-on-black violence and self hate. It seems to me that I’ve heard this link suggested by blacks as much, if not more than, whites.

  4. 4 Mike October 24, 2007 at 11:50 pm

    I hear your point about understanding the context of the crime–I’m always for more contextualizing. But in your two examples, I’d argue that it is a bit of a leap to say that killing someone due to something drug related is more of a reflection of self-hate than killing someone during a fit of passion. In fact, one could argue that the context is similar from the perpetrator’s point of view–a reaction to encroachment on their “territory” (drug turf or family/home life). Maybe your argument is that one is calculated and trivial (“someone is messing with my money and I’m going after them”) and the other is not (“I lost it during an unstable emotional state”)? I’d make the same argument. My point is that knowing the *type* of murder provides little more for determining to any meaningful extent whether it was committed as an act of self-hate. One would need much more detailed information than any category could provide.

    I do agree with you about the source of the link between black-on-black crime and self-hate. I’ve heard this asserted more from blacks than whites.

    Although the focus of this debate is on whether there is something “wrong” with us because we participate in intraracial crime, I feel compelled to state the obvious–that ultimately murder is wrong no matter how you slice it. Just keeping the larger perspective here…

  5. 5 Garrett October 13, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Maybe people tend to be friends with people and enemies with people of their own race…

  6. 6 Jerry October 14, 2010 at 11:56 am

    This is a very interesting premise, although I totally disagree with it. My reasons for disagreeing is that when it comes to Black-On-Black violence, we’re only speaking of a very small percentage of Black violent perpetrators. Therefore, the vast majority of Black people are non-violent. So, as you can see, for your premise to be true, the vast majority of Blacks must have sufficient self-hatred to allow them to engage in violent behavior towards most, if not all Blacks who are in their circle of influence. Most criminals operate in their own environment. Therefore, Whites kill other Whites living in their neighborhoods as do Hispanics, Asians and others.

  7. 7 dr.b. August 30, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Can this phenomenon be associated with the Self-Hatred Model? I would love to hear from COE Community Violence Lab….dr.b.

  8. 8 Mohamed July 28, 2013 at 7:25 am

    Hello mates, pleasant post and good urging commented here, I am truly enjoying by these.

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