By Albert Lin
When he locked himself out of his car recently, Jason Roberts noticed the sideways glances passers-by gave to the Black AAA mechanic who arrived to help him open the door.
In response, Roberts, the host of YouTube channel Simple Misfits, decided to recreate the circumstances to see if he would get the same results. His experiment appears to prove that the United States indeed has a long way to go in terms of race relations.
While a camera rolled, Roberts, who is white, pretended to try to break into his car on a Los Angeles street in broad daylight. Roberts spent 30 minutes using a wire coat hanger to try to pop the door’s lock, and no one questioned him even though he set off the alarm several times. At one point, a police car drove by without stopping.
In the second part of the video, Quentin Brunson, who is Black, played car thief. Someone standing nearby almost immediately began to film Brunson with a cellphone, and less than two minutes into Brunson’s attempted break in, police arrived on the scene. The first officer, gun in hand, shouted at Brunson: “Let me see your f**king hands. Get up against the wall.”
The video ends with a shot of Brunson handcuffed and surrounded by five police officers.
Roberts said his goal in creating the video, which has drawn more than 1.7 million views on YouTube, was to raise awareness of how people are treated differently based on the color of their skin. Critics claim the scenes were too staged, pointing out that Roberts’ break-in and Brunson’s break-in were filmed in different locations.
“I believe there is a difference in reactions of passersby due to race,” Will Brent wrote in the comments.”But you should have actually done the same scenario in the same place to prove the point. The 2nd one was on Hollywood Blvd (across from my gym) where there are lots of cops and tourists. The first scenario looked like it was downtown LA.”
There were also lots of comments saying that Blacks commit more crimes than whites, which is far from the case. According to the FBI, there were 52,952 arrests for motor vehicle theft in 2012, the most recent full year for which data are available. Of those arrested, 66.6 percent were whitemore than twice the rate of Blacks arrested (30.8 percent). In 2011, the ratio was similar: 64.0 percent of the 50,902 people arrested for motor-vehicle theft were white, while just 33.9 percent were Black.
In fact, if you look at the 28 different offenses for which the FBI tracks arrests, ranging from murder to curfew violations and loitering, Black arrests outnumber white arrests in only three areas in 2012: murder (49.4 percent of arrests to 48.2 percent), robbery (54.9 to 43.4) and gambling (67.4 to 28.7). In the other 25 areas, white arrests significantly outnumber Black arrests, more than 2-to-1 in most cases.