A Peculiar Indifference
The Neglected Toll of Violence on Black America
A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
From Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie comes a devastating exploration of the extreme levels of violence afflicting Black communities, and a blueprint for addressing the crisis
About 170,000 Black Americans have died in homicides just since the year 2000. Violence takes more years of life from Black men than cancer, stroke, and diabetes combined; a young Black man in the United States has a fifteen times greater chance of dying from violence than his white counterpart. Even Black women suffer violent death at a higher rate than white men, despite homicide’s usual gender patterns. Yet while the country has been rightly outraged by the recent spate of police killings of Black Americans, the shocking amount of “everyday” violence that plagues African American communities receives far less attention, and has nearly disappeared as a target of public policy.
As acclaimed criminologist Elliott Currie makes clear, this pervasive violence is a direct result of the continuing social and economic marginalization of many Black communities in America. Those conditions help perpetuate a level of preventable trauma and needless suffering that has no counterpart anywhere in the developed world. Compelling and accessible, drawing on a rich array of both classic and contemporary research, A Peculiar Indifference describes the dimensions and consequences of this enduring emergency, explains its causes, and offers an urgent plea for long-overdue social action to end it.