Black Lives Need to Matter More


In a Apr 16 article called “Death Row’s Race Problem,” writer and NYU history department member David Oshinsky reveals a number of facts of which I had previously been ignorant. One is in the article’s subheading: “Capital punishment falls hardest on southern blacks.” (I fully admit that part of this country’s problem with race is ignorance like this, like mine.) Furthermore,

According to data from the Death Penalty Information Center, 72% of the nation’s executions since 1976 have occurred in the 11 former slaveholding states of the Old confederacy, where lynchings and executions were routinely employed as methods of racial control.

Bad enough, right? But it gets worse. And if the terminology “black-on-black homicide” irks you, I suggest you read ahead anyway:

According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the majority of African Americans from Harris County [Texas] on death row were convicted of killing a white, despite high numbers of black-on-black homicides in the Houston area…Equally important, every white awaiting execution from Harris County was convicted of killing another white. Here are signs that white lives do matter more than black lives, at least in capital cases.

In other words, you’re far more likely, if you’re black, to be convicted of capital murder if you kill a white person than if you kill a black person. Black lives matter less.

Good Lord, how did we get here?

Anyway, on this anniversary of Freddie Gray’s death, next time you hear someone say “All lives matter,” maybe you can bring up this article. Which, by the way, was published in The Wall Street Journal. And maybe you can say you’ll stand behind “Black Lives Matter” until killing a black person is the cause of as much distress as killing someone’s who’s white.


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