Join Blinkist to get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from
Get the key ideas from


A True Story of Murder in America

By Jill Leovy
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
Upgrade to Premium Read or listen now
Ghettoside by Jill Leovy

Ghettoside (2015) is an incisive look into the failure of inner-city American police to protect the black communities that they are supposed to serve. These blinks explore the problem of high rates of homicide in black communities. They provide historical background, grapple with the social implications of violence and attempt to find a practical solution.  

Key idea 1 of 7

A disproportionate number of black men in the US end up being the victims of homicide.

What if you were told that in certain parts of the world, the chance of getting murdered was as high as 1 in 35? What if you found out that this wasn’t the reality in some impoverished, war-torn country, but in one of the world’s most developed nations?

That frightening statistic is a harsh reality for black males, both old and young, living in inner-city districts in the United States.

Black males become victims of crimes at a disproportionately higher rate than any other demographic in the US. In Los Angeles today, young black men are murdered somewhere between two and four times more often than young Hispanic men, even though the two populations often live in the very same neighborhoods. Although they constitute just six percent of the country’s population, they account for 40 percent of its murder victims.

The early 1990s marked a peak in homicides in the US; in Los Angeles county, on average, black men in their early 20s were murdered at an astonishingly high rate: 368 out of every 100,000. This is similar to the per capita death rate of American soldiers in Iraq in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion.

What could possibly cause such high homicide rates? That’s a difficult question. These rates are independent of nationwide trends. Over the last two decades, homicide rates in the US have plummeted. Despite this, the discrepancy between the rate of black male deaths and that of the rest of the population remains as high as ever. A historical analysis shows that this has been the case all the way back to the late 19th century.

Faced with such a large, senseless loss of life, you’d think that the authorities would be doing everything they could to solve it. But they’re not.

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

Key ideas in this title

Upgrade to continue Read or listen now

Learn more, live more

Sign up now to learn and grow every day with the key ideas from top nonfiction and podcasts in 15 minutes.