Unsupported charges of racism in Charlottesville

African-American students at the University of Virginia are alleging a pattern of racial bias at the University of Virginia and in Charlottesville, according to the Washington Post. The allegation stems from an incident in which a Black student apparently had his face pressed into the pavement by law enforcement officers when they arrested him on misdemeanor charges of public intoxication and obstruction of justice. The student ended up with a bloody face and required stitches.

Court documents say the student was “very agitated and belligerent” at the time of the arrest. This presumably explains the obstruction of justice charge.

Was the student, in fact, belligerent? If so, did his belligerence justify the treatment he received?

I don’t know, and neither do the student protesters. But rather than await evidence that would help answer these questions, including the findings of an investigation that is underway, the students have reached their conclusion and asserted a pattern of racial bias. And they are protesting.

It’s “hands up, don’t shoot” all over again, except that, with this slogan discredited, the students are chanting “black lives matter.” (There is no evidence that the drunken student’s life was in jeopardy. We’re talking about stitches, not a gunshot wound).

As for a “pattern of racial bias,” the Post’s article lends no support. In fairness to the Post, the protesting students refused to be interviewed for the story. It’s easier to chant than to explain.

The Post cites an incident in 2004 when the Charlottesville police asked a black man voluntarily to provide a DNA sample during a rape investigation. The Post provides no basis for concluding that the police made the request unreasonably or due to racial bias. In any event, this incident occurred more than 10 years ago.

Much more recently, law enforcement officers arrested a 20-year old student after mistaking the sparkling water she purchased for alcohol. But the Post doesn’t say that the student arrested is Black, so I assume she isn’t.

If there’s a pattern of anything here, it’s probably bias against students, perhaps an outgrowth of old-fashioned “town-gown” tension and/or the widespread perception that students are drinking too much.

Finally — and I’m not making this up — the Post reports that Black students are unhappy that, after a white student disappeared (she was later found dead), the Charlottesville police chief cried at a press conference. The chief admits to not crying when a Charlottesville area teenager disappeared.

“Disparate crying” — the new frontier in race discrimination.

Perhaps hoping to bolster the students’ case, the Post points out that black students were excluded from U-Va until the mid-20th century. Though of historical interest, this fact has no relevance to current claims of racial basis.

Recent history is more illuminating. Until 1999, U-Va’s admissions office awarded points to black applicants just for being black.

Faced with court decisions outlawing this practice, U-Va changed its policy. However, the University continues to grant preferential treatment to Blacks, both in the admissions process and once they enroll. A 2004 study showed that Black Virginia residents with high school grade point averages from 3.3 to 3.7 and SAT scores from 1051 to 1150 were admitted at a rate of 86 percent. Only 8 percent of Whites in this cohort were admitted. (NOTE: The original version of this post included another statistical comparison of Black and White admitted U-Va students, taken from the same 2004 study, that is not very probative).

If there’s a pattern of racial bias on the part of the University, it is against Whites, not Blacks.

As for the Charlottesville police and other local law enforcers, no pattern appears from anything in the Post’s story. As for the incident that sparked this controversy, why don’t we wait for the results of the investigation.


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