Jamelle Bouie in The Daily Beast:
The idea that “black-on-black” crime is the real story in Martin’s killing isn’t a novel one. In addition to Shapiro, you’ll hear the argument from conservative African-American activists like Crystal White, as well as people outside the media, like Zimmerman defense attorney Mark O’Mara, who said that his client “never would have been charged with a crime” if he were black.
(It’s worth noting, here, that Zimmerman wasn’t charged with a crime. At least, not at first. It took six weeks of protest and pressure for Sanford police to revisit the killing and bring charges against him. Indeed, in the beginning, Martin’s cause had less to do with the identity of the shooter and everything to do with the appalling disinterest of the local police department.)
But there’s a huge problem with attempt to shift the conversation: There’s no suchthing as “black-on-black” crime. Yes, from 1976 to 2005, 94 percent of black victims were killed by black offenders, but that racial exclusivity was also true for white victims of violent crime—86 percent were killed by white offenders. Indeed, for the large majority of crimes, you’ll find that victims and offenders share a racial identity, or have some prior relationship to each other.
What Shapiro and others miss about crime, in general, is that it’s driven byopportunism and proximity; If African-Americans are more likely to be robbed, or injured, or killed by other African-Americans, it’s because they tend to live in the same neighborhoods as each other. Residential statistics bear this out (PDF); blacks are still more likely to live near each other or other minority groups than they are to whites. And of course, the reverse holds as well—whites are much more likely to live near other whites than they are to minorities and African-Americans in particular.