Contemporary politics is often driven by “cultural or psychological anxieties”, argues Kenan Malik. We need to consider social and structural material factors too:
More than half of those killed by US police are white; and while, proportionately, police killings of African Americans have fallen in recent years, that of white people has sharply risen. Some analyses suggest that the best predictor of police killings is not race but income levels – the poorer you are, the more likely you are to be killed. Other studies have shown that the startlingly high prison numbers in America are better explained by class than by race and that ‘mass incarceration is primarily about the systematic management of the lower classes, regardless of race’. African Americans, disproportionately working class and poor, are also likely to be disproportionately imprisoned and killed. There are, as one report observes, ‘two distinct criminal justice systems: one for wealthy people and another for poor people and people of color’.