Structural Racism Tied to Increased Police Killings of Unarmed Black People

A new study shows that the degree of structural racism, measured primarily by levels of racial inequality, in a state or locality directly correlates to the incidence of police officers shooting unarmed black people at a much higher rate than white people.

Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers say their findings show that states with a greater degree of structural racism tend to have higher racial disparities in fatal police shootings of unarmed victims.

The study looked at combined data from Mapping Police Violence on fatal police shootings of victims not known to be armed from January 1, 2013, to June 30, 2017.

Researchers then created an index of structural racism at the state level, which they believe is the first of its kind. Looking at measures of black-white residential segregation and disparities in economic status employment status, educational attainment and incarceration rates, the index was cross-referenced with data on police shootings.

For every 10-point increase in the state racism index, researchers say they saw a 24 percent increase in the ratio of police shootings of unarmed victims.

This can’t possibly be surprising to anyone, but it’s good to see actual data compiled to back it up. It would be shocking if there weren’t such a correlation. Is it a causal relationship? Probably not. I suspect that both structural racial inequality and the increased rates of shooting unarmed black people are both effects of the same cause, which is racism itself, both explicit and implicit. I also suspect that much of that racism is implicit biases, which makes them much harder to get rid of.

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