Tuesday, July 20, 2010

NOTSOMUCH: The Truth About Black On White Crime

I took this little hipster dude to the hospital seven years ago; he'd left his apartment door unlocked and then got pistol whipped when he came home to find someone going through his stuff. Now why would I so clearly remember a minor injury from ages ago? Because in my eight years working EMS in Bed-Stuy, East New York, Harlem and the Bronx, that was the singular, solitary white patient I've had who was a victim of violence at the hands of a person of color.  I remember sitting in the Woodhull ER with him. He was holding an ice pack to his little forehead gash and going "God! I can't believe I got pistol whipped! It's like...it's like a movie!" At that point I had already given up checking the newspapers in the morning to see if any of my crazy jobs from the night before would show up. They never do; the patients are all black and brown and their tragedies, no matter how gruesome, are automatically deemed run-of-the-mill and unworthy for news attention.

In general, the white patients we get are either little old ladies, drunk Polacks who tried to play frogger across McGuinnes Boulevard, college kid anxiety attacks and overdoses. We also get the occasional "All these Black people are trying to rape and kill me so I can't leave my apartment!!" and sometimes "I stopped taking my meds and I'm about to do something really really bad."

All this is to say that the amount of time and energy that white culture puts into being afraid of the crimes that will be committed against them in the ghetto could be better spent thinking about something that actually happens.

For instance, white on black crime, which we see faaaar more frequently. A lawyer was interviewing me the other day for a case they wanted me to testify in. A patient I'd had who'd also been pistol whipped, also seven years ago, this time by cops, was suing the NYPD and this lawyer was trying to take apart the guy's story.  He showed me a picture of a middle aged black man with a swollen lip and busted eye and asked me if I remembered him. I had to laugh. "Do you have any idea how many times a week I go to the precinct to take care of black men who've been beaten by cops? Plenty. Times fifty-two times eight. No I don't remember that dude." Or the kid I met last night, who'd been cardoored by a police cruiser and then arrested before he could get up, all for riding his bike on the sidewalk. Or Iman Morales, who was naked on a fire escape in Bed-Stuy having a psychotic fit when PD tasered him, causing him to fall to his death. Or Sean Bell. Or Oscar Grant.
And then there's the entire 81st Precinct, who's institutionalized racism was recently unveiled by a defecting whistleblower and thoroughly detailed here.

Most white on black crime happens without the majority of whites having to perpetrate a single violent act. Another unspoken benefit of white privilege is the ability to win without  even having to fight. Gentrification, and the uprooting of communities that it entails, will happen regardless of how the incoming hipsters feel about their neighbors; the pieces are already in place, the gears turning. 911 doesn't get called- it's a slow motion race riot, which history has proven can be the most devastating kind.


  1. I never understood how whites move into black neighborhoods. They must not be as scared of us as they claim to be. Or since they have the police on their side they think everything is gonna work out. And I'm very surprised you didn't recognize the wounded man from the image they showed you. He looks like every other Black man; we all look alike, remember?

    Pure sarcasm in the preceding statements.

    Don't police have to keep track of who they stop/arrest -- racial profiling stats? Does EMS have a similar system? They should. Then it would become more apparent that whites tend to "destroy" themselves.

    *deep breath*

  2. They just struck down PDs ability to be able to keep records of EVERYONE they stopnfrisk, which they had been doing even on people that weren't arrested for anything. EMS keeps stats more so on heart attack and cardiac arrest stats by race than anything else. It's all pretty not-spoken about/barely spoken about/crappily spoken about. Hence the blog. And yes, white self destruction is a well kept secret...

  3. This is a really incisive and eye-opening post. As a white Canadian, this isn't the picture the media had given me at all of the on-the-street situation in the States.

    Thank you for this! I'm going to link to this article, if you don't mind.

  4. JJ, thank you so much for that comment and I read your terrific response- it means a lot 2 me that my writing has provoked such a heartfelt post! THat's the best compliment ever :)

    ALso glad you see the link to the whitewashing covers, which has been blipping on my radar too, as a fellow scifi/fantasy writer...
    THe above post took me years to get off my chest, I think because I was trying to hard to say it just right in an essay form and the loose blog format allowed me to just spit it out without worrying so much. Hopefully I'll keep that in mind and be quicker on the getup now lol...

  5. i really enjoyed the way this post was so candid and vivid. the institution of white on black crime is one that is never discussed. after all, only the "colored" folk commit crimes right?

    thank you for writing this and speaking truth.

  6. Thanks Crystal! Glad you enjoyed :) :)