Tuesday, May 19, 2015
Recent news regarding a seeming increase in the number of black males killed by police action raises questions.
Numbers do not show whether the rate has increased recently or stayed the same since the statistics are sketchy in general. But, black males have been killed by police at about four times the rate of white males [http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/08/police-shootings-ferguson-race-data].
The conclusion is that the recent public concern has changed, but not the incidence of police killings of black men.
Does this mean that white police officers kill black men at a high rate because they hate black men?
No such inference can be drawn from the data.
But, a corollary conclusion may be possible.
Do the data and research suggest that black males behave differently than whites while interacting with police in stressful situations?
No certain conclusion can be drawn, but there is tantalizing evidence of hormonal differences between the races which may lead to behavioral differences.
Levels of estradiol [serum estrogen] in black males are higher than in whites: ' Non-Hispanic blacks (40.80 pg/ml) had a higher estradiol concentration than non-Hispanic whites (35.46 pg/ml; P < 0.01) and Mexican-Americans (34.11 pg/ml; P < 0.01). Non-Hispanic blacks (36.49 nmol/liter) had a higher SHBG concentration than non-Hispanic whites (34.91 nmol/liter; P < 0.05) and Mexican-Americans (35.04 nmol/liter; P < 0.05)'.
The study is titled 'Serum estrogen, but not testosterone, levels differ between black and white men in a nationally representative sample of Americans', by Rohrmann S1, Nelson WG, Rifai N, Brown TR, Dobs A, Kanarek N, Yager JD, Platz EA. published by the National Institute of Health. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17456570]
Additionally, higher estrogen levels in humans are associated with more impulsive behavior [http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/mind-guest-blog/estrogen-s-role-in-impulsive-behavior/].
Higher estrogen level reduces anxiety in social situations, thus contributing to more impuslive behavior [http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/mind-guest-blog/estrogen-s-role-in-impulsive-behavior/].
Finally, females demonstrate different behavior during high estrogen periods, i.e, menstruation [http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/62/6/1166].
The conclusion is clear - black men behave differently during interactions with police than do white men, possibly because of hormonal differences.
Perhaps such an understanding may lead to lower tensions between police and black men.