News & Politics

Black Professor to Mark Levin: No Pattern of Epidemic Racism Among Police

Dr. Wilfred Reilly. Screenshot from video.

On this week’s episode of Life, Liberty, and Levin, Dr. Wilfred Reilly pushed back on the concept of systemic racism. Reilly told Mark Levin that many of the examples cited by activists have huge variables other than race to explain why they happen. He said that while systems of oppression have existed in America in the past, many of them have disappeared under our civil rights laws.

Reilly is an associate professor of political science at Kentucky State University, a historically black university. He has authored three books, including Hate Crime Hoax: How the Left is Selling a Fake Race War:

Professor Wilfred Reilly examines over one hundred widely publicized incidents of so-called hate crimes that never actually happened. With a critical eye and attention to detail, Reilly debunks these fabricated incidents—many of them alleged to have happened on college campuses—and explores why so many Americans are driven to fake hate crimes. We’re not experiencing an epidemic of hate crimes, Reilly concludes—but we might be experiencing an unprecedented epidemic of hate crime hoaxes.

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Levin asked Reilly about the concept of systemic racism, to which he responded,

Systemic or institutional racism as an academic is a phrase that I’m always a bit skeptical of. Now obviously, if we want to be honest about some of this country’s history, there have been systems like criminal sentencing in the past, where until quite recently, you did see discrimination at kind of a broad, group-targeted level.

But very often this phrase simply means there’s a difference in performance between two groups, and we’re going to attribute that to racism. To give an example of why that doesn’t necessarily work, my favorite sports league, the NBA–the National Basketball Association—is more than 65% black. I don’t think any serious person would believe that’s because white jocks just don’t get a fair shake in American society. The reason is that there’s what you might call a cultural variable. African-Americans play basketball more. On average, with all due respect to the Hick from French Lick [Larry Bird], we’re better at it.

Reilly also discussed a 1995 study into why African-Americans earned, on average, 82 cents on the dollar compared to white workers. He noted that it was universally attributed to racism, until the study was published:

There were a lot of variables involved. African-Americans are a younger population. The most common age for a black man is 27, the most common age for a white man is 58. Obviously people earn more later in life. African-Americans are much more concentrated in the South, where wages are lower for everyone. If you adjust for these factors and a couple of others … the gap almost disappears.

He concludes: “There’s no pattern of businesses paying an absolutely equally qualified black guy and an absolutely equally qualified white guy different amounts. I think that’s a valuable lesson to take into life.”

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After framing the argument, Reilly then tackles systemic racism in policing:

When people argue that policing is institutionally racist, almost always what they are saying is, African-Americans are arrested at a higher rate, or they encounter police at a higher rate, than the black percentage of society would predict. But the obvious intermediary variable there is crime rate. If you look at the federal justice statistics crime report, the African-American crime rate for violent crimes where you encounter the police is 2.4 times the white rate.

So you would expect there, unfortunately, to be more encounters between African-Americans and the police. And when you look at this narrative about black people and the police being in constant conflict, not only does a lot of the structural element disappear if you adjust for crime rate, the figures themselves that are often used strike me as very, very inflated in terms of police violence.

Reilly cites two databases of police shootings, one kept by the Washington Post, and one at KilledByPolice.net. He noted that the WaPo database listed a total of nine unarmed black men killed by police in all of 2019. The total number of all people of all races killed by police was 56. He then cited a 2016 Harvard study that concluded that African-Americans were 24.2% less likely to be shot by police than whites were.

“I don’t think you see a pattern of broad, systemic targeting of black people by police today,” Reilly concludes. “I don’t think we can just look at interactions between African-Americans and police and say, what we have here is an epidemic pattern of racism.”

You can watch the entire interview here:

Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, “Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy,” available now at www.WhoOwnsTheDems.com. Jeff hosts a podcast at anchor.fm/BehindTheCurtain. You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff.

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