This White Washington Post Columnist Claims Fear Of Black People is Understandable

"I don't like what George Zimmerman did, and I hate that Trayvon Martin is dead."

If you feel you need to clarify that as a precursor to your commentary, you should probably reconsider what you're writing. Alas, the Washington Post's Richard Cohen did not, and left his audience with yet another racist piece.

His latest column argues that Zimmerman and the public are understandably afraid of young black men. He regards this as an unfortunate truth, but a truth nonetheless, and one that must be recognized to combat the violence problem in the United States. Never mind that statistics show that this "violence problem" has actually been decreasing, even amongst the young black male demographic which Cohen finds so frightening. 

No doubt that Cohen thought he was being anti-politically correct, and courageously telling the truth that no one else would share. As he says, "Crime where it intersects with race is given the silent treatment. Everything else is discussed — and if it isn't, there's a Dr. Phil or an Oprah saying that it should be. Crime, though, is different. It is, like sex in the Victorian era (or the 1950s), an unmentionable but unmistakable part of life. We all know about it and take appropriate precaution but keep our mouths shut."

Yet as anyone with a Facebook newsfeed discovered after the verdict was announced in the Zimmerman case, people have had no qualms in voicing such opinions. The intersection of crime with race is discussed all the time.

Cohen's piece is not groundbreaking or brave; it is simply a rehashing of racist views to justify racial profiling. He does this under the guise of concern for gun violence in the United States, but had this sincerely been his motive, he would have thoughtfully explored causes and possible solutions. Instead, he glazes over these issues, just saying, "For want of a better word, the problem is cultural, and it will be solved when the culture, somehow, is changed."

It's pretty clear to which culture he is referring.

On a final note, since Cohen is such a fan of statistics: most of the shootings perpetrated by young black males in New York are part of gang violence or personal disputes. Average citizens therefore have comparatively no need to fear attacks from random black men on the street — public mass shootings actually seem to be more of a white guy thing. 


Cohen also fears the hoodie, as it is the uniform of thugs like this one.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Sarah Mahmood

Sarah is a senior at Wellesley College studying political science and economics, with a focus on women in politics. In her free time, she enjoys watching 30 Rock episodes and feasting on Ben and Jerry’s chocolate fudge brownie ice cream. She hails from New York, but currently lives in Massachusetts.

MORE FROM

Man spends five months on Rikers Island without knowing his bail was $2

Now Aitabdel Salem is suing both the city and his Legal Aid lawyers.

FBI agent indicted in LaVoy Finicum shooting as police evade punishment for killing black people

Finicum was killed during the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Alton Sterling’s children sue Baton Rouge over shooting, alleging racism and excessive force

The Sterling family alleges that police officers sent racist text messages about people who protested the black man's shooting death.

3 Chicago officers charged with conspiracy in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald

The three Chicago police officers allegedly conspired to prevent an independent investigation and prosecution against Officer Jason Van Dyke.

Video shows officer threatening black man for jaywalking without an ID

The officer is not currently under investigation.

Black teens handcuffed for selling water on National Mall are now getting job offers

"I feel like it was a bad situation turned into a good situation."

Man spends five months on Rikers Island without knowing his bail was $2

Now Aitabdel Salem is suing both the city and his Legal Aid lawyers.

FBI agent indicted in LaVoy Finicum shooting as police evade punishment for killing black people

Finicum was killed during the 2016 occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Alton Sterling’s children sue Baton Rouge over shooting, alleging racism and excessive force

The Sterling family alleges that police officers sent racist text messages about people who protested the black man's shooting death.

3 Chicago officers charged with conspiracy in the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald

The three Chicago police officers allegedly conspired to prevent an independent investigation and prosecution against Officer Jason Van Dyke.

Video shows officer threatening black man for jaywalking without an ID

The officer is not currently under investigation.

Black teens handcuffed for selling water on National Mall are now getting job offers

"I feel like it was a bad situation turned into a good situation."