The violent crime rate is higher among African-Americans. That is simply a statistical fact. People who write or comment about racism, police violence, or state-by-state differences who don't know that are not much worth reading. Also, there are many who know this somewhere in their brains, but forget it when they try to convince others of their narrative. People like to talk about root causes, or education, or gun control or whatever and blithely ignore that particular elephant in the room. We are, all of us, able to hold completely contradictory thoughts in our heads for long periods.
OTOH, the false detention, false arrest, and false conviction rates are higher for African-Americans. They get worse attorneys, they get longer sentences for the same offense, they get released on parole less quickly. That is also a matter of simple statistics. Ignoring that is not so much a matter of ignoring an elephant as ignoring many hyenas in the room.
If you favor one set of narratives, you believe that the former fact is the dominant one, a big enough elephant to render hyenas irrelevant. If you favor a second set of narrative, you are sure that the hyenas, collectively, balance out the elephant.
Hyenas balancing an elephant. There's an image, eh? Okay, this metaphor has gone significantly awry, but I'm betting you are still understanding exactly what I mean.
Back to the second narrative, those people believe that the combination of poverty, unemployment, discouragement, lack of fathers/role models, poor policing, rotten public defenders, racist individuals, and institutional racism explain the racial disparity in violence. If you want to throw lead consumption, nutrition, prenatal vitamins, and head injuries in there they wouldn't necessary object. What is important to them is the faith that there are no intrinsic differences among the races. They take it as an article of faith that this must be true.
Therefore, when there is a noticeable difference in the reporting of crime, the people of the second narrative immediately conclude that this can only be due to racism and ill-will. Cries of double-standard arise immediately, and in attempting to discuss the issue one quickly realises that there is not going to be any discussion taking place. You are going to have to remove, or at least significantly undermine, an idea that has considerable emotional importance to them. It looks like you are going to have to kick them.
Yet you don't know why they hold that idea. Perhaps there have black cousins or best friends and you didn't know. Perhaps they work in an urban literacy program and need all the myth they can hold just to get through the day. (And you really want them to be able to continue doing that, whatever the logical cost.)
This set of convenient beliefs also reverses.
Oh, you didn't see that coming?
This tends to be subtler. *********
Important sidenote, before I proceed on what are the majority of the cases. There is an important minority view. It might be blatant, not subtle, in that you or a close family member has been victimised, even repeatedly victimised, by a black person and deeply resent that African-Americans get to claim trauma or prejudice by whites while you get dismissed as unimportant. (Let me assure you that white rape victims of black rapists resent this with unimagined fury, that they are not allowed to react badly to the presence of aggressive black males - in a club, on the street, on an acute psychiatric unit where they cannot get away - but have to put up with Whoopi Goldberg or MSNBC or Salon telling them they are racists, while earnest young black writers get to lecture white people how they just don't know what it's like, and they simply must start listening. Relevant Magazine and Sojourners just had such articles. Ta-Nehisi Coates has made a career of it.)
The desire to ignore continuing racism also has its psychological origins. We like to think we have earned what we have achieved. And that may be largely true. But our long diligent trail of earning things often includes two sets of advantages: first, an accumulation of 1% gifts from teachers who liked you better, networks of friends whose parents owned businesses, increased confidence from moving safely in the world, an availability of an extra $200 at key juncture that the kid downtown didn't have, on and on...; second, a better likelihood of avoiding a catastrophic loss: your pot-dealing charge was reduced to possession; your Mom's job-loss resulted in a worse job, not APTD. White people, especially those who legitimately rose from difficult situations, don't like to admit that others had it even harder.
Example: You won't find many Americans who had a worse start than my two Romanian sons. Lived on lard and stolen fruit when young; didn't go to school because they had to work as shepherds/goatherds at age six; physical abuse routine, and moving to a state orphanage - yeah, those ones you saw on 60 Minutes - was an improvement; a private Christian orphanage later an unimaginable improvement. Yet even in Romania, they weren't as despised as gypsies, and when they got here as teenagers, they were white and had some automatic advantages. Obama writes about dissembling and telling white people what they want to hear - sorry, not all people have that skill, and they're screwed. (Though maybe more honorable.)
To those believers in the second narrative, who prefer to think their opponents must be racists and evil, because really what else could it be? You assume they don't think, just don't get it. Oh they get it. A few of them rejoice, because they are indeed exultant racists. But most know exactly what you feel, exactly why you don't like this, exactly why it seems unAmerican and unChristian and unrighteous to even think such things. Which is why, incidentally, why we react badly to your self-righteous posing as a better person because you prefer a different reality. We all prefer that reality. In fact, a lot of conservatives do hold to it, because they want to believe if those black people just tried harder it would work. For most people, that may be true. But the small minority of pathological people in all races seems to be higher in African Americans.
So here's the hard truth: our present understanding is that the environmental factors are not so important as both liberals (poverty! racism! opportunity!) and conservatives (fathers! expectations! accountability!) keep saying. The hyenas do not defeat the elephant. Not even a baby elephant. Not even if there were more hyenas. (I really wish I had picked a better metaphor.) The dial is pointing hugely to genetics at this point. That could change, science always does. But science is not mere fashion, there is some cumulative gain. All the root causes and racist legal institutions only explain about 25% of the discrepancy between white/asian crime and black crime (native and hispanic in between). You might stretch to 50%, if you squint hard. And that's all.
Is the rest genetic? Looks like, but as I said, science changes. I know of no set of facts that has undermined my faith in the goodness of God more than these.
As Francis Schaeffer asked years ago, in a series my two oldest sons grew tired of in Men's (11th-12th grade) Bible at Concord Christian School, How Should We Then Live? I don't know. I don't know what to tell you. I do know many of the voices that are not heard here are the older black people who want to live in safety, and the poor black parents who want to raise their children in a decent neighborhood. They don't hate strict policing, thank you very much, they like it. The people who hate it are young black males ( not often criminals, remember), noisy expressive black people (also not often criminals), and white people who want to show how really, really, not racist they are.
If you want to read how decent people live in fear in the ghetto, and desperately wish that the police could wrest control from the gangs, you have to balance your reading of Just Mercy - a description fo several of the hyenas currently very popular and deservedly so - with Ghettoside: Investigating a Homicide Epidemic. The latter tells the story of the real black victims, whose daughters get raped and sons shot in the crossfire, rather than the incendiary stories that make it to the news. You can read a review of it at one of those horrible racist sites that of course couldn't possibly have anything important to say.
It's not a choice between the blue pill and the red pill. Try both pills.