Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Let’s play Guess the Criminal’s Race!

Ever play that game? You know... you see a snatch of a crime story on cable news – or a newspaper headline, or an Internet teaser – and without thinking you go: “I bet that was a black guy.” Or, “I bet it was a white guy.” Or, “Bet it was a Latino.”

Bullshit, Dave. That is such bullshit!

Oh yeah? How so?

That’s, like, racial profiling, dude. It’s morally wrong, and it’s factually invalid.

So how come I’m usually right? Take this morning, for instance.

Here’s a headline I saw on the Huffington Post main page:

“LA ‘Discount Don’ Accused of Murdering, Beating Those Who Threatened His Bargain Grocery Chain.”

Instantly, my mind went bing... “Bet that’s a Latino.”

Click to the full story and, sure enough, the entrepreneur in question is one George Torres, “owner of 11 Numero Uno markets in poor Los Angeles neighborhoods.”

(You were expecting what, a Korean? Please...)

Now, was there anything wrong with me jumping to that conclusion?

I say no, not a damn thing wrong with it. Let’s be honest and acknowledge that we process information about our world constantly. This informs our instincts. That’s the way our brains are built.

So let’s play the game, shall we? It’s fun for the whole family! I put myself to the test, finding five crime-related headlines on the Net and trying to guess the race of the criminal.

Mark down your guesses – black, white or Latino (or... cough... Asian) – and I’ll post the correct answers when I find out for sure. (In most of these instances, photos weren’t published. I’m hoping that follow-up stories will include pictures.)

Don’t think about it too hard... this is about instinct. What do your instincts tell you, based on the information provided?

1. “Alleged kidnapper charged with sexual assault.” (From these six words alone, I guessed correctly.)

2. “Man arrested for shooting in botched robbery” – headline from New York’s Newsday.

3. “Pantless driver arrested after pulling into oncoming traffic.”

4. “LAPD officer arrested for investigation of DUI.” (I guessed wrong on this one.)

5. “Woman arrested for attacking husband with knife” – dateline Fayetteville, Georgia.

UPDATE (07/04/07): What a fascinating experiment this turned out to be! Thanks to the 12 of you who played.

First, let me share my own guesses:

1. White
2. Black
3. White
4. Latino
5. Black

In the first case (“Alleged kidnapper charged with sexual assault”), there’s a photo of the suspect, Adam Gault. White guy. Interestingly, among the 13 of us who posted a guess, 11 guessed white, two said black.

How did we know, based on those six words alone? And yet... we did!

The other four cases drew similarly lopsided votes. The second case (“Man arrested for shooting in botched robbery”), 11 of us guessed black, one said white, one said Latino.

The suspect is 18-year-old Joseph Bolling of Hempstead. I haven’t found a photo, but I sent an inquiring email to the Newsday reporter who wrote yesterday’s story. I hope he gets back to me.

In any event, you have to admit, something about the combination of “shooting” and “botched robbery” just makes you think black dude.

Just like the words “pantless driver” make you think white dude. At least that’s what 11 of us reckoned in the matter of “Pantless driver arrested after pulling into oncoming traffic.” (One guessed black; one guessed, uhh... cough, cough... Asian.)

That arrestee is 19-year-old Mark A. Gillis of Arlington, Mass. Again, no photo, but I’ve sent an email to the local journalist who broke the story. And based on a reading of the full article... hey, gotta be. Gots to be white!

The fourth case is where our collective “race-dar” went kerflooey. For “LAPD officer arrested for investigation of DUI,” eight of us guessed Latino. Four guessed white, one guessed black.

The cop’s name is Brian Lawrence Gossh. White.

The last one (“Woman arrested for attacking husband with knife”)... again, hoping to hear back from the reporter. But nine of us are guessing the woman’s black, while four say white. Her name is Lori Jeanne Grant.

Watch this space for more updates.

UPDATE (07/11/07): I just found out that Lori Jeanne Grant is black, according to the booking information from the Fayetteville police department. Most of us guessed correctly!

35 comments:

Dougfp said...

Oh, hell, let's try...

1. Black. 2. Black. 3. White. 4. Latino. 5. White.

Sleepyhead said...

1. White. 2. Black. 3. White. 4. Latino. 5. Black.

(Commenter: White. That'd be an interesting bit to track too.)

Karsh said...

1. White
2. White
3. Black
4. Latino
5. White

susie said...

1. White
2. Black
3. White
4. Latino
5. Black

SJ said...

1. White
2. Black
3. White
4. White
5. White

Anonymous said...

1. White
2. Black
3. White
4. Black
5. Black

Nikki

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to see the results.

1. White

2. Black

3. White

4. Latino

5. Black

~Rheina

dez said...

1. White
2. Black
3. White
4. White
5. Black

Random InterGhost said...

1. White
2. Black
3. Asian (why not roll the dice, eh?)
4. White
5. Black

Or is it a trick question and they are all white?

Anonymous said...

1. White
2. Black
3. White
4. Hispanic
5. Black

VictorK

Rottin' in Denmark said...

Here in Denmark, I showed up to a dinner party once with a cheap bottle of wine that I bought at the corner mini-mart. It turned out that the wine had gone bad, leaving me with more or less a $6 bottle of vinegar. One of the Danes at the party immediately said, 'Let me guess: An ARAB sold you that bottle.'

While this is inarguably an offensive assumption, I was a little miffed that it *was* an Arab dude, robbing me of like 30% of my righteous-indignation rights.

Oh, and was I the only one who was really surprised when the D.C. snipers turned out to be black? I was totally thinking pasty accountant on that one.

Moveable said...

Undercover, you are my man but the issue here undercover is that the media is selecting the stories the public wants to read. Take Bobby Cutts for example. There are missing women all over the country but black and white sex is hot, so crimes about people of color always makes front page news!

susie said...

Hey Dave -
I got impatient and went and searched those headlines and although the stories referenced names they did not state race.

Now I'm curious how you're going to find out? Are you using your magic journalist beans to get them to tell you?

Because it seems to me just a name won't tell you much. I know too many red headed white boys whose last name is Ramirez or Martinez.

justjudith said...

white
latino
white
white
Black.

can't wait to see these answers...

Undercover Black Man said...

Moveable wrote: "Undercover, you are my man but the issue here undercover is that the media is selecting the stories the public wants to read. Take Bobby Cutts for example."

Thanks for writing, Moveable. (And thanks for blogrolling me also.)

Let's do take Bobby Cutts. That story captured the cable-news fancy before he even became an issue. I remember the initial reports... and what was compelling about the story was the two-year-old "eyewitness"... the kid left behind who said something like, "Mommy's in the blanket."

So this story, from jumpstreet, had a little more drama to it than Missing White Chick of the Week. (Plus her being pregnant.)

But I must say, when they showed the missing white woman's picture, and got around to mentioning an ex-boyfriend or baby daddy or whatever, my instincts went bing and I thought: "Hope it's not a black guy." Something in me had a feeling, swear to God... which is why I started this thread in the first place. It goes back to Bobby Cutts.

I understand what you're saying about the missing-woman syndrome. But you should also face the fact that, when it comes to the media "choosing" which stories to pay attention to, that cuts in black people's favor sometimes... by avoiding the insane violent crimes that black folks commit daily. The Channon Christian kidnap-torture-rape-murder, for one. Can't blame white folks for bitching about that story being ignored.

Andrew said...

1. Black
2. Black
3. White
4. Latino
5. White

Anna Laperle said...

I'm going to say Kramer for #3. Clearly, he was returning some pants to the dry cleaner.

RC said...

UBM, I honestly can't do anything other than guess and don't know how you think you could actually know.
When you finally reveal the results, let us know just how Sherlock Mills deduced the facts without any, well, facts. I will pass on the exercise because I left my magic race spinner card at the beach. The pantsless one really caught my interest. Was it that judge from DC? Is he at it again?

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Zing!

Anonymous said...

"Can't blame white folks for bitching about that story being ignored."

Yeah, bitchin' and fuckin' mad too. And not goin' to take it anymore either.

SJ said...

^ What'cha gonna do about it?

It seems like all my guesses were correct...Lori is definitely a white name.

Joseph Bolling? Could go either way.

dez said...

I've gotten two of five so far. Figures I'd be able to peg the white criminals, heh. Viva la raza, beeyotches! ;-) Er, so what *does* that say about me, anyway?

queenjustine said...

Well, rope my feet and call me a doggie!

I thought you set us up, UBM! I really did....here's what I came up with before I read the answers:

1. White - yes, OBVIOUS wording...it sounded like a frat boy.

2.White - the piece said BOTCHED robbery....in my mind, a Black or Latino man would've pulled it off, and then gotten arrested way later because he matched a generic description; it seems like the white idiots just caint do it.

3. White - Pantless Driver! This was a gimme! Black and Latino men have way too many Fuck Options; they sexxy! They don't need to drive around pantless and pathetic....and We are All so afraid of the Black Man's Penis that if he'd been Black, I think the headline would've read something like, "Man Arrested For Raping His Car".

4. White - I guess I really am prejudiced! Seriously, anytime I hear "LAPD" I automatically assume that White men have fucked up again.

5. White - Georgia? Wife attacks hubby with a knife? This is like a classic track from Cops! But, she won't press charges, because "Ah Luuuuhv Hi-um!"

WOW. I was geniunely surprised by the answers that came out of me, and what the answers actually were....thanks for making me think....and I'm not really sure what this says about me, because I am white (although my father was banned from ordination in the Louisiana Episcopal Diocese in 1956 because of rumored "black blood" in our family...he subsequently was ordained a priest in Chicago).

Susie said...

Ummmmmm, is that a picture of the drunk cop? The one that looks like a bad headshot?

Is this how the official academy graduation picture these days?

Only in LA.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Therein lies a story, Suze. No, that's not his official LAPD photo. But Brian Gossh has been written about in the past... because he's gay and he's out. Anyhoo, found Brian Gossh's picture on a gay-oriented "modeling" website.

Undercover Black Man said...

Queen Justine: I wouldn't set you guys up like that. If the Georgia knife-wielding wife and the trigger-happy robbery botcher turn out to be white... well, I guess I'll learn my lesson and ignore these subconscious presumptions.

But regardless of the true facts, I'm fascinated that in each there was such a strong consensus guess as to black, white or Latino. I'm so intrigued by that.

queenjustine said...

Okay, I can't stop now....

I just read all of the articles you listed and now feel the need to highlight my wicked cool EV-o-dence for my All White answers:

1. This happened in Hartford, Connecticut. Everybody knows that there are no black men in Connecticut. Plus, this guy was keeping the girl in his basement. Everyone knows that black men have no basements.

2. This story happened on Lawn Guyland. Everyone knows there are no black men on Lawn Guyland. And the lad lived in a subdivision called "Hempstead Village". Everyone knows that no black man lives anywhere with the word village in its name.

3. This story comes out of Boston, where there ARE black men, but this criminal is from Arlington. Everyone knows there are no black men in Arlington. Also, the man allegedly lives on a street called "Foxmeadow"....are ya following me here?

4. Well, this still stands. I am surprised to learn, though, that he is gay...Gay White Cop....I didn't think any gay men lived in LA...but, I am a mere Student of life...

5. And finally....everyone knows there are no black women in Fayetteville, Georgia. And if there are, none of them live on "Lakeland Circle".

So, as you can see, Undah-covah Man,
I believe I have proven my All White Theory here, and thusly have exposed your subconscious desire to have only sought out the stories of white criminals, THEREBY setting us all up to fail.

Also, I think that the 'Discount Don' is an Italian, all evidence to the contrary.....

;)

Edshugeo The GodMoor said...

Got here too late to participate, but I can maybe shed some light on #2.
I don't know, or know of Mr. Bolling, personally, but living in the Village Of Hempstead, I can testify that it's like 98% Black and Hispanic or maybe Hispanic and Black. I don't know the actual numbers. The man's name probably rules out Hispanic.

Blaark said...

What's been more interesting to me is not if my guesses were correct but how growing up and living where I have/do alters the probability of the answers. Having notations pertaining to the locations where the stories take place also alters how you'd guess (Georgia, New York, LAPD) but less because of personal experience and more from what you've seen and heard secondhand. For instance, Discount Don would never have been Latino if that had happened in San Francisco-- it would have been a Chinatown attack. Similarly:
1- Obviously white
2- Latino in SF, black in NY
3- White worldwide, but maybe Asian in SF
4- White but not gay unless in SF in which case it may be a lesbian
5- Black in Georgia, white or Latino in SF

I give Asians more credit for violence because there's Vietnamese and Chinese gangs, people I've known, shootings I've seen. I assume Latino for robbery specifically because there's more impoverished Latinos here than there are blacks, period. And white people don't get charged with crimes in San Francisco for the most part, go figure.

dez said...

I didn't think any gay men lived in LA...

Heh heh!

TSM said...

The only clear hunch I got was the 'botched shooter' being black, and I keep abreast of race, crime, and such topics. I faintly recall seeing lots of COPS videos/ hearing news stories where blacks would botch a robbery, and then start shooting when they hadn't initially planned to (didn't the founder of the Crips do that?). It's a fight or flight scenario, and black guys seem more likely to take the 'fight' path, perhaps due to their higher testosterone levels - see http://ftp.ssc.uwo.ca/psychology/faculty/rushtonpdfs/Race_Evolution_Behavior.pdf p18

UBM, very few whites would write a post like yours here, PC aside - they just don't put much stock in race. I doubt many blacks would say someone "happened to be born" black, or white, etc.

I tried finding out the identity of Lori Grant, but no luck. The surrounding area is ~14% black, 80% white. Blacks have higher crime rates (~50% of violent crimes in America), but whites down South are a little more violent than their non-Southern counterparts. The name is generic English, and therefore very black - blacks have those bland Anglo names far more than anyone else - Jones, Davis, Brown, Johnson, etc. Also, black women seem slightly crazier in my mind than white ones. I'd guess Lori is black.

Undercover Black Man said...

Thanks for writing, TSM. In the "botched robbery" scenario, there's also the matter of impulsivity... which they say blacks are notorious for.

As for Lori Grant... the "Lori" and the "Grant" may sound black, but the spelling of the middle name "Jeanne" has got me doubting.

Unfortunately, none of the three journalists I emailed have bothered to respond to me. PC wins again!

bardo said...

queenjustine wrote:
"AWhite - Pantless Driver! This was a gimme! Black and Latino men have way too many Fuck Options; they sexxy! They don't need to drive around pantless and pathetic...."

According to California crime statistics, the black arrest rate (proportional to population) for indecent exposure is greater than the corresponding white rate.

Race of indecent exposure arrestees vs. population (California)

1999
%Population %Exposure arrests
White 50.9 50.7
Hispanic 30.4 29.8
Black 6.8 14.7
Other 11.9 4.7

2005
%Population %Exposure arrests
White 43.0 45.8
Hispanic 35.9 31.7
Black 6.7 16.8
Other 5.6 14.4

sources:
http://ag.ca.gov/cjsc/publications/candd/cd99/tabs/cd99tb34.pdf
http://ag.ca.gov/cjsc/publications/homicide/homi99/cr1.pdf
http://ag.ca.gov/cjsc/publications/candd/cd05/tabs/2005Table34.pdf
http://ag.ca.gov/cjsc/publications/candd/cd05/arrests.pdf

James C. Collier said...

There is a reason why stereotypes are accurate. They serve a useful purpose. I dug up an old blog on the subject, if you are interested...
http://actingwhite.blogspot.com/2006/05/heavy-burden-of-stereotyping-et-al.html
/JC

mary said...

Ummmmmm, is that a picture of the drunk cop? The one that looks like a bad headshot?

Is this how the official academy graduation picture these days?

Only in LA.
-----------------------------------
mary.supy
California Dui