For black and white americans, the difference between life and death is literally worlds apart. Although we may know this on some level, Nate Silver, the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight, has the startling statistics that demonstrate this reality.
As he explained to me on the latest episode of The Katie Halper Show, "If you’re a white person your chance of being murdered every year is 2.5 out of 10,000... If you're a black person it's 19.4, so almost eight times higher."
To put this into context, Silver explained, the murder rate for white Americans is similar to the murder rate for people living in Finland, Chile or Israel. The murder rate for black Americans, on the other hand, is similar to the rate found "in developing countries that are war zones even, like Myanmar, or Rwanda, Mexico, Brazil, Nigeria, places that have vast disorder. To me that stat was so striking that I thought this was a case where even if you kinda zoomed out, that was a data point that helped to inform the discussion."
Silver also discussed police brutality.
So I’m an editor now as well as a writer so we think when a story occurs is this a quote unquote "random act of violence" or is this representative of some broader trend and I think these stories about police brutality, it’s uncovering things that have been going on for a long time and that are very common experiences…
Now that we do have video cameras everywhere it’s not a coincidence that all of a sudden now that we have means to record these things all of a sudden these things crop up all the time.
Listen to the whole interview with Silver below, as well as interviews with Chris Cobb, who helped get New York City to acknowledge the site of a former slave market on Wall Street and mark it with a plaque, Desiree Burch, the black solo performer from California, who now lives in England, where she feels way safer walking around and or encountering the sees police, and political comedian Ted Alexandro, who talks about police brutality in his standup, and said, to Silver, "you said [the murder rate for black Americans is] more in keeping with places that have 'vast disorder.' Maybe vast disorder is the right term for the experience of black folks living here in the United States. That is their reality. So, when you said those words it kind of struck me."