Friday, May 25, 2012

Is Playing the Odds Racism?

"1 shot at business on Albemarle Rd."

One man was seriously injured in a shooting before daybreak Friday at a business on Albemarle Road, police say.

The shooting was reported about 4:45 a.m. at the Albemarle Business Center, a sweepstakes parlor near Central Avenue in the Eastland area.

There is no description of a suspect, and no arrests have been announced.

Well, that area of Charlotte is impoverished and home to a lot of African-Americans and Latinos. Much of the violent crime is concentrated in the area, especially robberies, shootings and murders. Most of these are committed by African-American youths who would probably closely resemble President Obama were that individual to have sons.

So, although no description has been published, you won't go broke betting that both the victim and the perpetrator were young, male and African-American. The Charlotte Observer may in fact be reluctant to publish a description for that very reason.

When you read crime reports a lot - - and I do - - you notice trends. Even other news stories tend to have trends when the human factor is considered. Crimes of violence - - murders, armed robberies, and rapes - - tend to be committed by young African-American men. Is it racist to say so? No. Many will hesitate to say so, though, out of fear of being labeled racist. Bank robberies, at least in Charlotte, more often tend to be the work of white men. Why? I don't know. It's a Federal offense to rob banks, and the prison time is substantial when you are caught.

When I read an article and note that a machete was used as a weapon, I automatically think that it was a crime committed by a Latino, and again I am usually right. Racist? No. Playing the odds.

Who makes meth? White rednecks, for the most part, and often white motorcycle gangs. Can't be racist for pointing that out, can I?

A common crime a century ago was to blind someone by throwing lye into their eyes. Who committed this crime? African-American women, for the most part. You'll occasionally read of attacks with acid in modern times (the English of Victorian times referred to it as vitriol-throwing) and it's usually Middle Eastern men who commit this sort of crime these days.

Hackers? White guys. It's playing the odds. Profiling, if you will. Stereotyping. I once came up with a satirical definition of the word stereotype: drawing conclusions about a group based on the observed behavior among members of that group, by someone who has not acquired a science degree. When an individual with a science degree makes conclusions about a group based on observed behavior among members of that group, it is called anthropology.

None of this is to suggest that playing the odds should be government policy, or to focus on a profiled group to the exclusion of other possibilities; but for a private individual who must make decisions while going about his/her daily business, you ignore the odds at your peril.

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