President Joe Biden has continued to push the narrative of “systemic racism” against black Americans when it comes to police shootings in the aftermath of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. But Chauvin's conduct is an outlier, not the norm. It isn't just the data that demonstrates this. The very examples that activists themselves choose to highlight undercut their own assertion that racism is an inescapable, ubiquitous part of American life.
The latest example of how shaky the "systemic racism" narrative really is comes from media outlets such as NPR and the New York Times. Short on good, clear examples of unjustifiable brutality, they are now trying to tie the apparently justified police shooting of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant to George Floyd’s death after Chauvin’s trial.
Body camera footage shows Bryant ignoring officer commands and charging at another woman with a knife. At that point, the officer shoots her four times. Despite what appears to be a clearly justifiable use of force to protect another person's life (a black person's life, in fact), the White House still tried to tie the incident to "systemic racism."
This is typical. The examples that activists and their media allies cite persistently undercut the idea of systemic racism. To this day, the police shooting of Michael Brown continues to be cited as an example of racism. But Brown was shot in self-defense by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, after Brown attacked the officer and reached for the officer’s gun. Jacob Blake, whose case is also cited, was a domestic abuser and an accused sex predator armed with a knife. He ignored police instructions when they confronted him over his violating a restraining order taken out by the woman he had abused.
If the activists' inability to find convincing anecdotes doesn't convince you that "systemic racism" is a bogeyman, then consider the data. Of the roughly 330 million people living in the United States, 1,021 were shot and killed by police officers in 2020, according to the Washington Post police shooting database. Of that number, only 55 were unarmed. Of those 55, 18 were black.
Even those 18 are not clear-cut cases. Fred Brown, for example, was shot after he tried to choke one police officer in a confrontation that occurred because his girlfriend reported him for assault. An officer killed Kurt Reinhold after he got into an altercation with police officers and tried to grab one of their guns. In other cases, such as the shooting death of William Green, the officer was at least charged with murder, so (as in Chauvin's case) it cannot be said that such behavior goes unpunished.
The idea that police officers are gunning down black Americans across the country is complete nonsense. The numbers don’t bear it out, and even the high-profile examples that are cited, from Brown to Blake to Bryant, make it clear that those pushing the narrative can’t back it up.
There may be other issues in policing, but that’s not what Biden or Black Lives Matter supporters are focused on. They are claiming that police officers are, by the nature of their job, racist, and that they are killing unarmed black Americans with impunity. The claim is both ridiculous and false and not at all based on fact.