Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: blacks

Oct.
27th

There’s more than racism behind crime rates

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Washington Supreme Court Justice Richard Sanders got himself in trouble – what else is new? – for asserting last week that blacks wind up in state prison at higher rates because they commit crimes at higher rates.

Predictably, he got slammed from all directions. He’s clearly guilty of insensitivity: That was an absurdly simplistic summary of an extremely complex problem. Still, his comments ought to be the beginning of a conversation, not the end of one.

The state’s black population is roughly 4 percent. Its prison population is roughly 20 percent. That disparity should appall anyone. But Sanders was right in one respect: Attributing the gap exclusively to racism won’t help solve the specific problems that perpetuate it.

Racism created many of the difficulties some minorities continue to struggle with. African Americans – who, with American Indians, suffered the worst of it – endured more than two centuries of slavery and another century of legal subjugation.

No group could survive a crucible like that without scars and disadvantages. Though most American blacks have since clawed their way into the middle class, far too many remain in poverty.
But if racism provides the overall context, more specific circumstances explain much of the disparity in arrests, convictions and imprisonment.
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Jan.
22nd

U.P.’s demographics ain’t what they used to be

University Place School Superintendent Patti Banks was in this week to plug the U.P. school levy, and she began by puncturing misconceptions about the district’s demographics.

“There’s a myth that surrounds us,” she said – namely the misconception that University Place is an enclave of privilege and affluence.

Maybe it was once upon a time; it’s not now. Since 2000, Banks said, white enrollment in the school system has fallen from 71.5 percent to 62.1 percent.

Black enrollment has risen from 12.6 percent (a healthy fraction in the first place) to 14 percent. Hispanic, from 3.5 percent to 6.1

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