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Tags: drivingwhileblack | perceptions

We Also Need to Listen to Perceptions of Black Community

a black man driving in his car

By    |   Thursday, 10 September 2020 11:31 AM EDT

The following is the sixth in the series.

Despite all of the evidence that shows police killings have declined dramatically and whites are more likely to be killed when committing a violent crime, we also need to deal with perceptions. The Black community clearly feels that police threaten them disproportionately.

In a 2015 survey, 57% of the white population expressed trust in the police. But the Black community response was just 20% confidence. These are concerning perceptions about police.

In a 2016 Pew Survey:

  1. More than 8 out of 10 Black adults said that Blacks are treated less fairly by the police – and by the justice system.
  2. Black adults (primarily males) say they are about five times as likely to be stopped by police because of their race.
  3. 88% of white Democrats say Blacks are treated less fairly by police while only 43% of white Republicans agreed.
  4. 65% of Black adults say they were in situations where people were suspicious of them because of their race, compared to just 25% for white adults.
  5. Only 33% of Black Americans said that the police do a good or excellent job, compared with 75% of whites.
  6. 57% of Black police officers said fatal encounters with Blacks were evidence of a broad problem. Only 27% of white officers felt so.
  7. 92% of white police officers felt that our country has made the changes needed to assure equal rights. 71% of Black officers felt that this was not true.

Perceptions contribute to the antagonism between Blacks and police. It creates tensions. We need to change behavior, but we especially need to change perceptions. Perceptions are a persistent thing. Perceptions continue for many years, despite data. But these perceptions lead to ongoing confrontations. They tend to perpetuate themselves.

Driving While Black - Senator Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, says that he has been pulled over by police seven times in one year. He was also stopped while trying to enter the Senate because officials doubted that he was a senator.

Research suggests that Blacks are pulled over more often by police on less suspicion than for whites. This is a legitimate outrage that law-abiding Blacks have. And it feeds the narrative that Blacks are indiscriminately targeted.

We are in an age where every event, every police encounter, can be documented and analyzed. Potentially, there are data tables that can tell us which cops are disproportionately targeting Blacks for minor offenses and harassment. In fact, there are some studies.

A study by Stanford University, with data up to 2016 found that police officers generally stop Black drivers more often than white drivers. They also found that Black drivers are more often searched than white drivers.

Yet, the data suggests that even though the search rates are higher for Blacks, the results are about equal – in terms of finding criminal behavior. In other words, police target Blacks more often because Blacks commit crimes more often. The data shows that the percent of search rates among both whites and Blacks result in about equal criminal evidence. That is fair policing.

Let's track this closer. Let's be able to see this, and let the police departments use this to correct, counsel, or discipline officers who could be disproportionately targeting Blacks.

However, the data that I have seen does not suggest that police officers are inappropriately targeting Blacks.


Data is truth, but perceptions matter more in terms of how people behave. Unfortunately, our media and politicians promote lies about the rate of police killings against Blacks. They also promote falsehoods about police bias. That only fuels anger and false perceptions. It exacerbates things.

Changing perceptions with truth is a major challenge. Most of the media and most of the Democrat party want to fuel the fire. Perhaps this is for political reasons in the upcoming presidential race. However, it is not good for our country. Our country would be better served with truth.

Next: The Need for the Black Community to Take Responsibility

Roger Andersen holds an undergraduate degree in Economics from Wheaton College and an MBA from Oregon State University. He studied literature and history at Oxford University and international economics at the University of Leiden. Mr. Andersen began his career with PepsiCo, serving in various business planning, strategic planning, and financial management roles. He was CFO for Tonka/Kenner/Parker, CFO for Rollerblade, SVP for Pepsi-Cola General Bottlers, CEO of Young America Corporation, and CEO of The Bob Pike Group. He is the author of The Executive Calling: Corporate Success Without Selling Your Soul. Roger and his wife have two daughters. Read Roger Andersen's Reports — More Here.

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The Black community clearly feels that police threaten them disproportionately.
drivingwhileblack, perceptions
Thursday, 10 September 2020 11:31 AM
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