On Friday morning, MSNBC host Jose Diaz-Balart devoted a segment to trying link racism to the recent surge in car crash deaths over the past two years. The segment failed to make a more plausible connection that the anti-police movement has led to less enforcement of traffic laws since the police-involved death of George Floyd.
Diaz-Balart began the segment by noting that, while there has been a documented increase in car crash deaths, minorities have been disproportionately impacted. After bringing aboard Calvin Gladney of Smart Growth America, the MSNBC host began by posing: "Why is there such a disproportionate amount of deaths when it comes to our communities?"
Gladney recalled a recent study released by his organization on the increase in traffic deaths, and asserted that it is "unique to the United States." He soon added:
But getting to your point, unfortunately, we see disproportionate deaths in black, Latin X, Latino and low-income communities. As a matter of fact, blacks were two times as likely as non-white Hispanics to die while walking in their neighborhoods. So it's an epidemic that's having disproportionate effects on black and brown communities.
While showing a graphic on screen, Diaz-Balart followed up: "Yeah, I mean, look, I mean, when we look at that graphic, when you look at just the disproportionate number of African Americans -- I mean, 8.21 per 100,000 compared to whites at 6.33. I mean, how can this be helped? How can we help fight this?"
Although it was not mentioned, the graphic also showed that the per capita death rate for Asian Americans was substantially lower than for other racial groups at 1.42 deaths per 100,000 compared to 6.33 for whites and 8.21 for blacks. The rate for Hispanics was only slightly higher than whites at 6.81. Without addressing why the rates are so low for Asians and not so high for Hispanics if racism is to blame, Gladney blamed the government for building the interstate highway system near the homes of minorities.
Why the number have gotten worse in the past couple of years was not addressed, but, in 2018, the Washington Post observed a similar trend that happened about the same time that homicides increased as part of the Ferguson effect -- just as homicides surged after the left stoked hostility to police officers in 2020, so did car crash deaths.
Last year, CNN host Don Lemon took note of the traffic death numbers and tried to blame it on road rage by angry right-wingers.
This episode of Jose Diaz-Balart Reports was sponsored by Aleve. Click on the link to let them know what you think.
MSNBC's Jose Diaz-Balart Reports
August 26, 2022
10:44 a.m. Eastern
JOSE DIAZ BALART: The U.S., meanwhile, is experiencing an alarming increase in car deaths. More than 115 Americans have been dying on the roads on average every day this year -- more than 115. And the toll is falling disproportionately on lower income Americans, as well as black and Latino families. Joining us now is Calvin Gladney, president and CEO of Smart Growth America. Calvin, thank you for being with us this morning. Millions of us drive -- why is there such a disproportionate amount of deaths when it comes to our communities?
CALVIN GLADNEY, SMARTGROWTH AMERICA: That's a good question, and thanks for having me, Jose. Well, my organization, Smart Growth America, we just actually released a report last month, a national analysis of pedestrian fatalities called "Dangerous by Design." And it shows a particular epidemic of traffic deaths, pedestrian fatalities in this country. And it's unique to the United States -- 6,500 people died in 2020 walking and being struck and killed. Those numbers are a two-third increase over the last decade, and, as a matter of fact, 2021 data showing things are getting worse.
But getting to your point, unfortunately, we see disproportionate deaths in black, Latin X, Latino and low-income communities. As a matter of fact, blacks were two times as likely as non-white Hispanics to die while walking in their neighborhoods. So it's an epidemic that's having disproportionate effects on black and brown communities. But it is a solvable one. And we should -- we can talk about those solutions.
BALART: Yeah, I mean, look, I mean, when we look at that graphic, when you look at just the disproportionate number of African Americans -- I mean, 8.21 per 100,000 compared to whites at 6.33. I mean, how can this be helped? How can we help fight this?
GLADNEY: Yeah, it's tough. And some of it goes back to history. I know as a person from Fort Lauderdale as I understand living in Miami now, part of this has to do with the history of where we put highways in our country. The interstate highway system essentially was built out through black and brown neighborhoods around the country in the '50s and '60s, and these kind of race-based -- in fact, racist decisions often put high-speed wide roads through black and brown communities. And so part of what we can do is probably two things we can do that are counterintuitive but really are the answer. And it's showing in our report.
The first is the focus on street design. Right now, our streets are designed for speed -- the speed of the car traveling but not the safety of anybody not in the car -- whether you're a pedestrian, whether you're a biker, or you're just mama bear rolling a stroller. And in black and brown communities, what you see which also has racist history to it is a lack of pedestrian infrastructure. So you don't see sidewalks, crosswalks. I hate to date myself because it's almost like that old Atari game Frogger where you see folks running across fast streets. So there's a challenge in particularly in black and brown communities and urban areas and in rural areas because of the street design and the culture of not really caring that there is this disproportionate effect in doing it.
BALART: Calvin, I thank you so much for being with us and shining a light on something that affects so many of us. I appreciate you very much being with us this morning.