Kentucky State University assistant professor of political science Wilfred Reilly told “Life, Liberty & Levin” that the phrase “systemic racism” often refers to a “difference in performance” between two groups, rather than something more insidious.
“Systemic or institutional racism, as an academic, is a phrase that I’m always a bit skeptical of,” Reilly told host Mark Levin in the interview airing Sunday.
.”Obviously, if we want to be honest about some of this country’s history, there have been systems like criminal sentencing where until quite recently, you did see discrimination at kind of a broad, group-targeted level,” Reilly went on. “But very often this phrase simply means there is a difference in performance between two groups [that] we’re going to attribute to racism.'”
As an example, Reilly said that no one is accusing the National Basketball Association of discriminatory practices despite the fact that a large majority of its players are African-American.
“I don’t think any serious person would believe that [the NBA is majority-black] because white jocks just don’t get a fair shake in American society,” he said. “The reason is that there’s what you might call a cultural variable.
“African-Americans play basketball more, and so, on average, at the median, with all due respect to the Hick From French Lick [Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird], we’re better at it,” added Reilly, who is black.
By the same token, Reilly went on, the fact that Major League Baseball teams have so few black players is not a product of racism, either.
“You see this same thing in more what you might call ‘serious situations’ all the time,” said Reilly, who pointed to a 1995 study by liberal economist June O’Neill and conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza that examined the income disparity between Caucasians and African-Americans.
“As I recall, African-Americans made 82 percent of what Caucasians did,” he stated. “And this was just universally attributed to racism,and what they found out was that that wasn’t the case.
“There were a lot of, quote-unquote, ‘variables’ involved. African-Americans are a younger population. The most common age for a black man is 27. The most common age for a white man is 58. Obviously, people earn more later in life when they’ve had the chance to move into executive roles.”
Another reason, Reilly added, is that the black population is concentrated in the South, where wages are lower than elsewhere in America.
“You could argue that some of those things are tied into class and whatnot, but there’s no pattern of businesses paying an absolutely equally qualified black guy and an absolutely equally qualified white guy different amounts in general,” he said.
Turning to the topic of policing, Reilly said that what many attribute to “systemic racism” can be explained by other factors.
“If you look at the Bureau of Justice Statistics crime report, the African-American crime rate for violent crimes where you encounter the police — whites dominate corporate crime — is 2.4 times the white rate. So you would expect there, unfortunately, to be more encounters between African-Americans and the police,” he said.
“And when you look at this narrative about black people and the police being in constant conflict, not only does a lot of the structural element … disappear if you adjust for crime rate, the figures themselves that are often used strike me as very, very inflated in terms of police violence.”