While working on a column on the Trayvon Martin story (it’ll be on NRO in the morning), a related thought occurred to me. If you go by Charles M. Blow of the New York Times, or Donna Britt in her NPR interview, or much of the blather on MSNBC, you’ll get the impression that the foremost problem facing young black men in America is violent white racism. It is “the burden of black boys in America,” according to Blow. I think this is unsupportable as a statistical matter alone. The notion that the chief problem facing young black men is violence — or even non-violent prejudice — from whites is simply hard to support given the numbers Heather Mac Donald runs through here. Or consider the fact that the life expectancy for black men in prison is higher than the life expectancy for black men outside of prison. That’s messed up.
But what if we extend Charles Murray’s argument in Coming Apart to blacks in the top 2% — like Blow, Britt and most of the other black commentators out there. It seems plausible that at least some of these people are as removed from lower class black America as many white commentators are from lower class white America. In that context, I could see how the Trayvon Martin story would hit closer to home than the vastly more numerous tragedies involving black-on-black homicide. The richest and most successful African-Americans spend a lot more time in elite “white” America than they do in Compton or East St. Louis. And, my hunch is, they’re more understandably more worried about white men with guns than they are about guns in their kids’ private schools. I also think it’s a lot easier for rich black liberals to have an “honest conversation” about white racism than it is for them to engage in an honest conversation about the other problems facing black America that have little to nothing to do with white racism.
I don’t think this explains everything, not even close. But I do think it might be one of the factors at work.