Over the past 30 years, black-on-white murders rose from 6 percent of all homicides to 8 percent, according to a study of 550,000 homicide reports assembled by Scripps Howard News Service from FBI and local police reports.
White-on-black killings rose from 3 to 4 percent. All other racial combinations rose from 3 to 5 percent. “There haven’t been a lot of studies done on this. But we do have racial groups mixing together more than they used to, so it makes sense that there would be more homicides across race,” said University of Florida Law School professor Katheryn Russell-Brown, author of “The Color of Crime.”
The overwhelming majority of homicides are still intra-racial—whites killing whites or blacks killing blacks. But these killings have fallen from 88 percent of all reported violent deaths in the 1980s to 83 percent from 2000 to 2009.
The rise in the percentage of interracial homicides has occurred while the total number of homicides has fallen dramatically in recent years.
Intra-racial killings have plummeted. White-on-white slayings tumbled from 63,704 deaths in the 1980s to 46,179 deaths in the 10-year period from 2000 to 2009. Black-on-black killings dropped from 56,931 to 41,457 deaths during the same periods.
Black-on-white killings grew from 8,503 to 8,530, while white-on-black slayings dropped from 4,745 to 4,380. Homicides involving all other racial combinations, including Asians and American Indians, rose from 3,854 to 4,981.
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The study found that the percentage of interracial killings among strangers is decreasing. In the 1980s, about 47 percent of white-on-black killings occurred between people who were strangers. That figure dropped to 40 percent since 2000.
The change was even more pronounced in cases of black-on-white homicides, where 48 percent were strangers in the 1980s, and only 34 percent in recent years.