More Black People Killed By Police Than Were Lynched During Jim Crow

April V. Taylor

Most Americans tend to think of lynchings as a dated form of racial violence that suddenly disappeared with the ending of Jim Crow; however, America’s proclivity towards slaughtering black people lives on through the country’s police departments.  A recent article published by The Guardian illustrates just how true this reality is, revealing that historians estimate that during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, two to three black people were lynched every week in the American South.  When this is compared with the incomplete data compiled by the FBI that shows that a black person is killed by a white police officer more than twice a week and studies that reveal that an unarmed black person his killed every 28 hours by police, the stark and gut wrenching reality of the nightmare Americans have never awaken from comes into focus.

Another statistic that brings the grim reality into clearer focus is that fact that white Americans outnumber black Americans fivefold, but black people are three times more likely to be killed during an encounter with police.  As Isabel Wilkerson points out, there is a haunting symmetry in a black person being killed every few days that, “reminds us that the devaluation of black life in America is as old as the nation itself and has yet to be confronted.”  The haunting symmetry is not just in the number of dead block bodies in American streets but also in the stereotypes and images that perpetuate prevailing assumptions of black inferiority.  Instead of black people being presented as savages and beasts like they once were, the media perpetuates the notion that black people are gangbangers and thugs.

The psychological impact of the trauma experienced by the black community when a black person is killed by the cops is meant to reinforce a racial caste system that is part of the American fabric in much the same way lynchings were. In the same way that a lynched body would be left hanging for days or weeks sometimes to reinforce the lesson that black people should stay within the racial caste system, Michael Brown’s body was left to bake in the August sun for four hours after he was killed.

A recent Pew study shows that white Americans are disconnected from the reality of black Americans lived experiences today similarly to the way they were during Jim Crow.  The study found that while 80 percent of black Americans felt that Michael Brown’s killing raised important concerns about race in America, only 37 percent of whites felt that way.  Just as segregation during Jim Crow kept many white Americans out of touch with the often traumatic black experience, modern racial isolation and persistent negative stereotypes preclude any chance for the majority of white people to empathize with the black American experience.

Some may argue that white people do feel empathy for the pain of black people.  However, a study conducted by the University of Milano-Bicocca statistically proved that subconscious bias affects a persons actions so deeply that many times they are unaware of it.  Subjects in the study consistently reacted in a more dramatic, measurable and physiological way when a white person was pierced with a needle than when a black person was. This subconscious bias is what allows racism to exist and allow people to turn a blind eye to black pain and black death.





72 Comment

  1. Hey Tony Temple, how about adding the eleven white kids, plus one adult, who were just recently killed! That 2400, is a damn lie.

  2. Please visit Southern Poverty Law Center website and read about hate groups today.

  3. Hazel Whitesides no these facts I got from the FBI website. Look it up for yourself or go get your own facts.

  4. Ms. Taylor,

    Please provide the source for your statement that “…studies…reveal that an unarmed black person his killed every 28 hours by police….”

    Many have long suspected that the number of unjust killing of Blacks by the police is extremely high, but your assertion above about unjust killings is greater that I have imagined. More needs to be written on this subject, and more action must be organized and taken. An accurate and comprehensive data base documenting such killings is essential.

  5. Listen: racist & prejudice is alive & well in the USA, & other parts of the world as well: i.e. Brazil,S.A.,C.A.! Blacks must become so adept & organized that we respond automatically as a well organized group of people with unitiy,networking,cooperation across groups & organization, the way all intelligent people do!..We are in the seat of this demonic power on earth, & we must learn how to defeat it!…Use your GOD given talents, & seek His counsel in everything!…Always protect yoursellf, & then come to the aide of others, like yourself, with advice & assistance…We are in a WAR: spiritual,physical,economical, but with"But with GOD, the "devil" is limited!

  6. and you will probably never be sure. What research do you propose to do to get the figures to add up?

  7. t

  8. Many years ago the Honorable Minister said “Unity is the key to our survival” unless we embrace this philosophy we are guaranteed to NOT survive.

  9. African Americans have not psychologically accepted the fact that our history was taken from us. We don’t know our identities! We suffer from social amnesia! Our names and our African tribal history was intentionally destroyed by our oppressors. We must pray to our creator to help us become whole again. Thank you for your attention.

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