Three Charts About the Eric Garner Ruling That Every White American Should See

at a protest, a white woman holds up a sign reading "white silence = white consent"

A December 4 Black Lives Matter protest in Las Vegas. (Photo by Beverly Yuen Thompson 

A new poll from the Pew Research Center reveals an upsetting reality: what you think about the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner likely depends on your race. The research group polled 1,500 adults and asked them their thoughts on the recent grand jury decisions not to indict the police officers who killed Garner and Brown.  While 90 percent of black people polled say that the grand jury made the wrong decision in not indicting the officer who killed Garner, only 47 percent of white people felt that way. It seems like widespread protests of the rulings haven’t helped wake white people up to the idea that interactions with the police are strongly colored by race.

I don’t have much to add to this that hasn’t already been said. But Franchesca Ramsey summed up this issue excellently in a new video about how to be an ally. To be an ally, she says, the first step is to think about your own privilege: 

“A lot of people get hung up on the word privilege. It does not mean that you’re rich, that you’ve had an easy life, that you’ve never had to struggle or work hard. All it means is that there are some things in life that you will not experience or have to think about just because of who you are. It’s kind of like those horses who have blinders on. They can see just fine. There’s just a whole bunch of stuff on the side that they can’t see.”

These poll results make it clear that there’s a whole reality that white people often just do not see. These charts stand out from the report and I hope every white person who reads this stops to think about what’s in their blind spots. 

 

poll on the eric garner death

Related Reading: Who Thinks Race Isn’t a Big Deal in Ferguson? 

Sarah Mirk is Bitch Media’s online editor. You can follow her rants on Twitter @sarahmirk


by Sarah Mirk
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Sarah Mirk is the former host of Bitch Media’s podcast Popaganda. She’s interested in gender, history, comics, and talking to strangers. You can follow her on Twitter

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17 Comments Have Been Posted

The article contains and

The article contains and error. It says, "While 90 percent of black people polled say that the grand jury made the wrong decision in not indicting the officer who killed Garner, only 28 percent of white people felt that way." If you look at the second chart, 47% of white people polled felt that way; only 28% agreed that the indictment was the RIGHT decision.

Good job on noticing this.

Good job on noticing this. This article is heavily biased.
They're grouping the stats from the Ferguson and New York case together and this creates a lot of statistical error. Firstly, I believe the Ferguson case has no definite right or wrong. No one knows whether or not the police was in the right or whether Mike Brown was in the right. Commenting that the whites who said the jury made the right decision in the Ferguson case is ignorant of racism, is illogical in itself.

However, by grouping the Ferguson case and New York case together, it creates a Simpson paradox because the ambiguity of the first case creates a large percentage of whites agreeing with the jury (which is completely reasonable). If we just look at the New York case seperately, only 37% of whites believe the jury decision was just. Compared to the original 90% the article initially stated, 37% is a very large decrease. However, only 2% of blacks disagreed with the jury's decision in the New York case which is substantially smaller than the 37% for whites. But this difference could just as easily be from blacks supporting another black as it is from White racism.

I'm not saying that racism towards blacks isn't still prevalent in current society. However, whenever there is a white on black crime, many people openly play the race card without much thought of the evidence. I feel like a lot of people are instantly defending the blacks to give themselves a pat on the back of "oh see i'm not racist" And it shouldn't be this way. So this article just sucks at giving an accurate portrayal of opinions and is heavily biased towards supporting the blacks without certainty of which party is in the right.

It's hard to put a lot of

It's hard to put a lot of weight on a comment that refers to people as "the blacks" over and over.

Thanks!

Thanks for noting that typo—it's fixed now.

I don't see the error you're

I don't see the error you're commenting on. I just read the article and focused on the statistics your questioning and it read: "While 90 percent of black people polled say that the grand jury made the wrong decision in not indicting the officer who killed Garner, only 47 percent of white people felt that way." This lines up exactly with the data listed in the charts at the bottom of the article.

It's been fixed!

Hi Marie - I fixed the error on December 10th and noted the change in the comment above.

This is ridiculous. An

This is ridiculous. An opinion poll is released about the cases and suddenly every white American has to see it? Wouldn't white Americans have a more objective view of the issue anyway? It's easy to play the victim card, but it's hard to take responsibility. This applies to everyone, including whites.

What are you talking about?

What are you talking about? How are whites more objective? If anything they're more ignorant to what black people face. Also what do you mean by take responsibility? You have a person put in an illegal chokehold and killed, and for doing what? And no responsibility or acvountability given to the police.

Police sergeant was black in Eric Garner's case...

There was a black woman police sergeant right there when Eric Garner was killed, and she did absolutely nothing to stop the white officer who was her subordinate who did the chokehold that killed Eric. The black woman in charge did nothing to stop it, why aren't we talking about THAT?

why do white people bend so

why do white people bend so far backwards to deny racial bias in policing and incarceration? what does it cost to acknowledge an unequal and racially biased "justice" system? that it would have to change? is that so terrible? can someone answer this question for me?

Because she doesnt want to

Because she doesnt want to risk her job or upset daddy. That aside i wouod ask: which of the 2 officers are stronger? Also having playfully fought with women, i can tell you they will put FAR more strength into fighting than we would (men10%:80%women) so its possible she thought that was the amount if strength needed.

I dont care to whiteknight but despite all said she knew the moves being made werent lawfull. Untill people rally to change how <strong>QUALIFIED IMMUNITY </strong>works we will see kids as old as 5 being shot down and executed in our streets without any excuses in the future.

Black or otherwise.

In answer to your question,

In answer to your question, no, whites would not have a "more objective" view of an issue about justice toward people of color. It is easy for us (speaking as a white person) to remain blind to racial justice if we wish, because it does not affect us.

They're grouping the stats

They're grouping the stats from the Ferguson and New York case together and this creates a lot of statistical error. Firstly, I believe the Ferguson case has no definite right or wrong. No one knows whether or not the police was in the right or whether Mike Brown was in the right. Commenting that the whites who said the jury made the right decision in the Ferguson case is ignorant of racism, is illogical in itself.

However, by grouping the Ferguson case and New York case together, it creates a Simpson paradox because the ambiguity of the first case creates a large percentage of whites agreeing with the jury (which is completely reasonable). If we just look at the New York case seperately, only 37% of whites believe the jury decision was just. Compared to the original 90% the article initially stated, 37% is a very large decrease. However, only 2% of blacks disagreed with the jury's decision in the New York case which is substantially smaller than the 37% for whites. But this difference could just as easily be from blacks supporting another black as it is from White racism.

I'm not saying that racism towards blacks isn't still prevalent in current society. However, whenever there is a white on black crime, many people openly play the race card without much thought of the evidence. I feel like a lot of people are instantly defending the blacks to give themselves a pat on the back of "oh see i'm not racist" And it shouldn't be this way. So this article just sucks at giving an accurate portrayal of opinions and is heavily biased towards supporting the blacks without certainty of which party is in the right.

No one knows what happened?

No one knows what happened? In two cases (among many) two men with an unreasonable amount of authority exercised an unnecessary amount of violence on an unarmed victim with no authority.

Regardless of whether you think race is a factor nor not, there is still an imbalance of police authority versus the people they are supposedly protecting.

This mixed with the amount of value we place on white lives and how little value we place on white lives gives us a deadly combinatiom that allows these kinds of things to keep happening. These police officers can act with impunity and know they are protected, people with power protect their own.

I am convinced that in both

I am convinced that in both cases (Ferguson and Eric Garner) that their BODY SIZE was the root cause of their deaths. Very large people (6'5", 350 lbs) are often mistakenly thought to be aggressive even when they are just standing still, simply because of their body size. Eric Garner's daughter eluded to her father's body size as well when she hesitated to call this a race based issue when she was interviewed, but the media did not "hear" her, since no anchor mentioned Mr. Garner's body size when they were paraphrasing what his daughter said. The USA does not have discrimination laws based on body size, like Canada and Mexico do, so there is no awareness of the many incorrect assumptions that are made about very large people. One great outcome out of this tragedy would be if the USA finally adopted laws against discrimination based on body type/size, so people would stop making bad assumptions (eg, assuming someone is aggressive) just because you see a very large person.

Make up your mind

I get that there is a problem with all sorts of nasty "-isms" in this country, with the recent tragedies that stem from institutionalized racism being top of the list these days. But can we at least have a unified front? I have read many articles and posts about how white people need to stand up and recognize and speak out (all of which assume that "they"--as a generalized whole--don't already). And then I have read a bunch of items that conflict those, where white people are told they need to sit down and shut up, and "it's not about you." Well, pick one.

It's more complicated than

It's more complicated than that and isn't an issue of "either/or". Being an advocate and an ally is about standing and speaking in solidarity without allowing your voice to drown out the voices of those you are supporting. It's about balance and realizing that while you do have a voice, your voice shouldn't be at the center of the conversation because that would reinforce the privilege you and those you are aligned with are working to overcome.

The best way to be an ally is to listen.

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