Skin Color and Crime

In statistics, the term “correlation” may be defined as “the degree to which two or more attributes or measurements on the same group of elements show a tendency to vary together” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/correlation). This is distinctly different from “causation” – “the action of causing or producing” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/causation?s=t). Often in the case of correlation, there is a third factor responsible for the correlated variation in data. According to Dummies.com, there is a positive correlation between the consumption of ice cream and the number of murders in New York (http://www.dummies.com/education/math/statistics/how-statistical-correlation-and-causation-are-different/). If we see correlation and causation as the same, we may conclude eating ice-cream inspires homicidal tendencies. From a perspective of logic, however, we can clearly see the two are not casually related. More likely is that there is a third variable causing an increase in both murder and the consumption of ice cream. as the article at Dummies.com suggests, hot weather is also positively correlated with murders and ice cream consumption. It seems more likely this hot weather may be responsible for the first two variables.

Months ago, our president posted a graphic of statistics regarding skin color and murder. Specifically, it addressed this relationship when it comes to “blacks”, “whites”, and police. It has been said that this graphic displayed highly inaccurate statistics and was created by someone with strong racial biases. In spite the inaccuracy of this ever famous graphic, the real statistics still show a correlation between darker skin color and killings:

Without the understanding of the difference in correlation and causation, one may conclude a person’s skin color determines his or her tendency to engage in the killing of another human. But, understanding the relation of correlation and causation, we may begin to look for a logical cause for the relation. As a result of systematic racism, people with darker skin have often not been granted the same opportunities as individuals with lighter skin. This has meant many people with darker skin have had to live in lower-income neighborhoods. According to “theatlantic.com”, “An exclusive analysis uncovers that students of color in the largest 100 cities in the United States are much more likely to attend schools where most of their peers are poor or low-income.” (https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/02/concentration-poverty-american-schools/471414/).

If we look at Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, we can see how, theoretically, one may seek out food, shelter, and security, before he or she concerns his or herself with esteem needs or self-actualization. When we look at the correlation between socially defined “race” and income, we may see a clear pattern:

And what kind of social order may form out of a group of people’s struggle to survive? With few options for income growth, many young people in these neighborhoods turn to illicit methods. This is why crime rates would tend to be higher in low-income neighborhoods:

And with a criminal record, legitimate work may become increasingly difficult to find. This perpetuates a pattern of illegal activity. Lower income families are less likely to send their children to college. This means children of lower income families are more likely to earn less when they reach adulthood than children of higher income families.

Conclusion: One’s continent of familial origin is not the cause for his or her tendency to engage in socially undesirable behavior. Rather, in our current society, one’s skin color may affect his or her ability to earn a sustainable wage in order to meet his or her basic needs. This inability to earn enough to meet one’s needs creates a tendency to engage in socially undesirable behavior. But the correlation is not the same as the cause. It is social biases that still exist in our society and a self-perpetuating chain of lower income that is responsible for the current correlation in skin color and crime.

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