In several exchanges I've had over the last couple of weeks about the putative issue of black oppression by white society, specifically white police forces, it's inevitably argued that there is so much structural racism against blacks that just focusing on the expression of black frustration (ie, riots and looting) misses the point. It's like blaming an abused child (blacks?) for behavioral issues instead of blaming his parents (whites?). The paternalism inherent in this sort of framing--and its long and storied pedigree to boot--is something one can have some fun with if he's so inclined, but I'm not.
Instead, let's travel down this path to see where it takes us. As the story goes, we've made lots of progress since the sixties but half a century on we still have plenty of work to do. Parenthetically, "progress" here refers to racial equality. It is measured relatively, not absolutely. It's better for blacks to get one half mark better and whites to remain in place than it is for blacks and whites to each get one full mark better.
Okay, but where do the consequences of said progress show up? On measures of family stability? On propensity to abstain from engaging in criminal activity? On intelligence tests? On measures of affluence?
Five decades ago, the Moynihan report found that one-in-four black children were born out of wedlock. Today that figure is now greater than two-in-three. Rather than closing over the last five decades, the black-to-white imprisonment rate ratios have actually widened over that same period of time (and that's even with most Hispanics being lumped in with whites; which is more of a factor in recent white numbers than it is in white numbers from the past when Hispanics comprised a smaller percentage of the total population). The one standard deviation gap on IQ tests that separates black and white mean scores from one another has remained so consistent over time that La Griffe du Lion calls it The Fundamental Constant of Sociology. The wealth gap between median black and white households is currently the largest that has ever been measured.
On all these fronts, the disparities appear as incorrigible as ever. Does that mean that all the putative progress has had no appreciable effect on realized outcomes, save for getting a guy like Barack Obama, whose upbringing was far cushier than that enjoyed by hundreds of millions of Americans across the racial spectrum, elected president?
Or is there something Malthusian in play here? Is increasing white deference towards blacks negated by a corresponding increase in poor black behavior like that recently and saliently illustrated by Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and their sympathizers? While blacks are over eight times as likely to engage in violent crime as non-Hispanic whites are, they are less than four times as likely to be shot and killed by police in so doing or when being arrested for so doing. In other words, given their relative criminal propensities, white criminals are more than twice as likely to be killed by police as black criminals are.
This is an extreme illustration of the broader tendency for blacks to be treated less, not more, harshly by police than whites are. This trend will presumably only continue to accentuate as more and more white cops realize, like Darren Wilson and Edward Flynn have, that policing urban blacks is not only thankless but positively injurious not only to one's physical worth but also to his reputation and good moral standing. Reclinating back to the bit about paternalism, the kid who has a tendency to be unruly needs a stricter eye kept on him than the mild-mannered kid does. As a society, the US is doing the opposite--loosening the reigns on the at-risk populations and tightening the grips on the better behaved groups.
The examples of extreme scrutiny given to alleged white perpetrators on the one hand and the dismissive apologies for (or total ignoring of) black offenders are constantly being generated. Even fresher than the Michael Brown and Gilbert Collar incidents are the cases of faux rape at the University of Virginia and the far less publicized but more substantiated potentially real rape case at William Patterson University. Fortunately someone is cataloging these things because it's easy the newest one to wash strained memories of older ones down the memory hole.
If bad black behavior is always blamed on whites--more precisely, on heterosexual, traditionalist, middle-class male goys of European descent--to the extent that societal pressure is going to influence behavior, it is going to tend to prod blacks into behaving ever more pathologically while simultaneously browbeating ever more supine whites into not doing anything--ANYTHING!--that might, however implausibly, be even indirectly associated with possibly having something to do with an action (or even thought) that casts black in anything other than the best possible light.
While it's easy to see that this situation is inherently unstable over the long term, it's beyond my powers of prognostication to say how it'll shake out in the end. Explicit separatism is still a long way from being anything other than a political non-starter, but de facto separatism continues unabated. Of course, the groups claiming to suffer from alleged structural injustices do everything they can to live in municipalities run by the purveyors of those same injustices, so maybe white flight just goes on and on into the foreseeable future, while slowly but surely the numbers of places consumed by blight continues to increase. There's a lot of ruin in a nation. The US is a big country, after all.