In 1990, Congress passed the Hate Crimes Statistics Act (HCSA),
mandating the collection of data related to transgressions motivated by an
offender’s bias against a victim’s race, religion, sexual
orientation, or ethnicity. Commissioned by the Attorney General, the
FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program developed a system to compile
and classify this information. The crimes tallied would include both
personal offenses (such as murder, rape, assault, and intimidation)
and property offenses (such as robbery, burglary, theft, arson, and
vandalism). In 1994, incidents of bias against "persons with
disabilities" were added as a newly counted category of hate crimes.
prospect of quantifying the incidence of hate crimes was
enthusiastically welcomed by America's civil-rights
establishment, which has long emphasized and condemned the supposedly widespread incidence of
white-on-black attacks. As U.S. Civil Rights Commission chair Mary
Frances Berry once put it, "The primary explanation for racially
motivated violence against blacks has been the need of a segment of
the white population to preserve [its] belief in the inferiority of
blacks, and to maintain the social and political subordination of an
historically outcast group by any means, including violence."
Berry’s message closely resembles that of Al Sharpton, who has
characterized white-on-black violence as "a national epidemic."
In a similar vein, Jesse Jackson has asserted that blacks are not only
"despised," but are actually "hunted for sport."
academics, as well, have voiced their agreement with these views. The late African American
Studies professor Vivian Gordon called black men "a hunted and
endangered species." University of California
sociology professor Robert Staples laments what he calls "a
sort of genocide targeting young black males." And Ivy League professor Cornel West refers
to blacks as our country’s "exemplary targets of racial
In 2010, law-enforcement agencies nationwide reported a total
of 7,699 hate-crime incidents to the FBI, of which 3,725 (or 48.4%) were
motivated by racial
bias. If we exclude all racially motivated offenses whose
perpetrators are categorized as being of "unknown race,"
or something other than "white" or "black," and we focus only on those offenses definitely involving both
blacks and whites, we find that blacks were victims of 1,417 racially
motivated offenses committed by whites, while whites were victims of 303 racially motivated offenses committed by blacks. Thus whites were
responsible for 82.4% of these interracial hate crimes, and
blacks 20.5 percent.
this may appear to support the popular assertion that whites are
likelier than blacks to commit hate crimes, we must remember that the
total population of non-Hispanic whites is about 5.2 times larger than
the total population of non-Hispanic blacks. When we factor this
population disparity into the equation, we find that the "average"
black is actually slightly more likely than his or her white
counterpart to commit what is classified as a racially motivated hate
It is also the case that FBI hate-crime statistics list
"Hispanics" as a category of victims, but not as a category of offenders.
Instead, Hispanic offenders are lumped together with whites. In other
words, the current hate-crime classification system allows for
Hispanics to be counted as victims
of hate crimes, but never as perpetrators
of such crimes. This artificially inflates, very dramatically, the share of
hate crimes committed by "whites."
Finally, it should be noted that while very few of those crimes that cross racial
lines are categorized as hate crimes, white-on-black offenses are far likelier to be called hate crimes than are
black-on-white offenses. The
Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that in 2010, there were about 320,082 black-on-white crimes of violence, as compared to some 62,593
of the white-on-black variety. Yet although black-perpetrated
interracial crimes outnumbered white-perpetrated interracial crimes
by a ratio of about 5.1-to-1, the official hate-crime statistics
offenders outnumbering black
offenders by a 4.7-to-1 margin. Put another way, about 1 out of every
44.1 white-on-black attacks is classified as a hate crime, while the
corresponding fraction for black-on-white attacks is an astounding 1
out of 1,056.
 "Excerpts from Jesse Jackson's Address to Washington March," The New York Times (October 17, 1995), p. A20.
 Felicia R. Lee, "Black Men: Are They Imperiled?" The New York Times (June 26, 1990), p. B3.
 Daniel Goleman, "Black Scientists Study the 'Pose' of the Inner City," The New York Times (April 21, 1992), pp. C1, C7.
 Cornel West, Race Matters (New York: Vintage Books, 1994), p. 110.