How Black Skin Privilege Destroyed Baltimore

… and a city near you.

Editor's note: Below is the fifth article in the FrontPage series "Black Skin Privilege," based on the Freedom Center pamphlet "Black Skin Privilege and the American Dream" by David Horowitz and John Perazzo. (Click the following for Part IPart II, Part III and Part IV).

You've probably never heard of Arnesha Bowers—a beautiful, kind-hearted, 16-year-old African-American girl who was lowered into her grave a few weeks ago. She lost her life at the hands of three sadistic beasts who broke into her home in northeast Baltimore, dragged her into the basement, raped her, strangled her to death with an electrical cord, lit her body on fire, stole some of her belongings, and then set the house ablaze before fleeing the scene without a trace of remorse. Since the killers were black—as are virtually all the killers of black victims in Baltimore and every other city in Americathe perpetually squealing racists of the Black Lives Matter movement were suddenly struck mute. The blabbering slobs who call themselves “civil rights leaders” were similarly silent. And the hordes of rioters who had recently torn Baltimore apart after having had their hearts broken by the death of their beloved Freddie Gray—a man who had been arrested a mere 18 times since 2007—were so busy sniffing around for white racists, that they never even noticed Miss Bowers's absence. Gray, you may recall, died while in the custody of Baltimore police on April 19th—most likely, it turns out, as a result of his own wildly reckless behavior.

The starkly divergent public reactions to the deaths of Arnesha Bowers and Freddie Gray shine a bright light upon a particularly repugnant manifestation of Black Skin Privilege: the dubious “privilege” of being viewed by the Left, simply because of one's pigmentation, as a pathetic incompetent; as someone who cannot be expected to abide by the behavioral and moral norms of civil society; and as someone whose reflexive explosions of violence can be casually rationalized away as desperate pleas for “social justice.” This is precisely the paternalistic, condescending, demeaning mindset with which the Left views African Americans not only in Baltimore, but everywhere. Consider, for instance, the following remarks that were made regarding the Freddie Gray riots:

  • The International Communist League attributed the looting and destruction in Baltimore to the notion that “black people are being pushed beyond the limit—terrorized by cops and the courts, deprived of any kind of job, denied decent education and housing.”
  • An opinion piece in the Daily Kos saw the rioting as “the final option for a group of people so systematically disenfranchised that their voices have not been heard” by a “system” that “still crushes them under its weighty wheels.”
  • A Salon analysis assured us that “police cars being smashed and corporate property being destroyed” constituted “reasonable responses to generations of extreme state violence” against blacks.
  • Professor Marc Lamont Hill said that Baltimore's unrest was “not a riot” at all, but rather, a series of “uprisings” in response to African-Americans “dying in the streets for months, years, decades, centuries” as a result of “police terrorism.”
  • President Obama reminded us that the mayhem we were witnessing was “fueled” by the fact that “some communities” have been “unfairly targeted by police” in this intractably racist land.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake likewise articulated her own allegiance to the tenets of Black Skin Privilege when she explained that city leaders had consciously decided to give “those [rioters] who wished to destroy,” a certain amount of “space to do that.” As the mayor saw things, black Baltimoreans needed room for catharsis—a platform from which they could vent their justifiable rage at a white establishment whose jackboot was pressing down upon their collective throats.

What's that, you say? Baltimore, at the time of the riots, had a black mayor, a black police chief, a majority-black city council, and a mostly-nonwhite police department? Ninety-three percent of black homicide victims in Baltimore and everywhere else in America were being killed by other blacks?

Hey, who's got time to contemplate trivia like this, when there are race wars waiting to be ignited? “Black Lives Matter,” don't cha know?

We certainly don't need to wonder whether Baltimore's criminals heard Mayor Rawlings-Blake's unmistakable assertion that they couldn't be expected to refrain from violence. And they proceeded, dutifully, to live down to her rock-bottom expectations. In May—the month immediately following the Freddie Gray riots—Baltimore was the scene of 43 homicides in 31 days—its deadliest month in four decades. Two months later, 45 additional Baltimoreans were sent to their graves by remorseless killers—tying the city's all-time record for a single month, set in August 1972. The vast majority of these murders were committed by black offenders.

To be sure, Baltimore didn't turn into an urban sewer overnight. That took decades of Democratic leaders and public policies favoring a soft, tentative approach to dealing with crimes committed disproportionately by black offenders. The city's first elected black mayor, Kurt Schmoke (1987-99), for instance, decided that drug offenses should be treated as a public health problem rather than a criminal-justice matter, so he largely decriminalized them. By the end of the '90s, the murder rate in Baltimore—which had earned the nickname “Bodymore, Murderland”—was six times higher than in New York. Approximately 75% of Baltimore's killings were drug-related. Moreover, an astounding 10% of the city's 600,000 residents were addicted to drugs. Three cheers for Mayor Schmoke.

A similar disaster befell Detroit in the 1970s and '80s when Mayor Coleman Young—claiming that “criminals on the streets” were “seriously rivaled by the ones in squad cars”—dramatically scaled back the city's police force. When crime rates soared, Young sneered that calls for “law-and-order” were nothing more than “code” for “Keep the ni**ers in their place.” By 1987, the city's homicide rate was three times higher than it had been in 1967, and Detroit was widely regarded as the “murder capital” of America. Three cheers for Mayor Young.

In 1993, St. Louis elected its first black mayor, Freeman Bosley Jr., who initiated a variety of programs designed to provide jobs and recreational forums for local black gang members, on the theory that their criminal activity was chiefly a by-product of societal inequities. Bosley's first year in office was the bloodiest in city history, with 267 homicides. Good work, Mayor Bosley.

For many years and in many places, Democratic politicians and activists have clung desperately to “racism” as their one-size-fits-all explanation for every conceivable black problem—while neither demanding nor expecting anything whatsoever from those whom they regard as racism's victims. Hoover Institution Fellow Thomas Sowell wrote recently: “You cannot take any people, of any color, and exempt them from the requirements of civilization—including work, behavioral standards, personal responsibility and all the other basic things that the clever intelligentsia disdain—without ruinous consequences to them and to society at large.”

But that, in a nut shell, is exactly what the Black Skin Privilege mindset does. Those who have been promoting it for the past half-century under the banner of “civil rights,” have more innocent blood on their hands than virtually anyone else on earth.

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