This is a revised, updated versions of a CD post that originally appeared on June 3, 2013.
According to data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for 2008, the top ten leading causes of death for black females ages 15-45 are listed in the table above. The 785 black female homicides in 2008 reported by the CDC include the total combined number of murders by: a) intimate partners (41.5%), b) other family members (16.7%) c) acquaintances (29.9%), and d) strangers (11.9%), but the CDC does not report those four categories separately. However, a Department of Justice report on homicide trends in the US does provide a percentage breakdown of the four categories for all females, and the percentages above are from that report (Table 6). Therefore, it can be estimated that the number of murders of a black female by an intimate partner would have been about 326 in 2008 (41.5% of the 785 total), and those homicides would have been the eighth leading cause of death for black females in 2008.
Data for 2009 and 2010 are now available and reveal almost identical rankings for the leading causes of death as in 2008; data from 2008 are presented here because those would have been the most recent statistics available in 2009 when Eric Holder prepared his remarks that included misinformation about the leading cause of death for black females — see below.
Despite the facts that: a) homicides were the fifth leading cause of death for African-American women ages 15-45 in 2008 and b) homicide by intimate partner was the eighth leading cause of death, the Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder makes this false claim on the Department of Justice website: “Disturbingly, intimate partner homicide is the leading cause of death for African-American women ages 15 to 45.” He actually first made that false claim in a speech on August 3, 2009, when he said “Intimate partner homicide is the leading cause of death for African-American women ages 15 to 45. These statistics are shocking and completely unacceptable.”
In a USA Today op-ed back on February 4, 2011, my AEI colleague Christina Sommers pointed out that it would be shocking and completely unacceptable if it were true, but in fact, it absolutely is not true as the CDC data in the table above clearly indicate. Instead, it’s shocking and completely unacceptable for the Attorney General of the United States to spread false statistics that aren’t even remotely close to being true or accurate – there were almost six times as many cancer deaths as intimate partner homicides and five times as many deaths from heart disease.
Shocking, indeed. Especially when you see how that misinformation has spread so widely over the last four years and been quoted as fact: by an institute on domestic violence at the University of Minnesota, on YouTube, in books like this one, on the American Bar Association website, by a writer on the Huffington Post website, in a Dallas News article, among many, many other websites, articles, and blog posts. Disturbingly, a Google search of Holder’s quote “Intimate partner homicide is the leading cause of death for African-American women” reveals that the false claim now appears on almost 9,000 websites!
Thanks to Christina Sommers for exposing this false claim by the Attorney General that has now remained on the Department of Justice (DOJ) website for more than four years without correction, and her challenge to Eric Holder:
Victims of intimate violence are best served by the truth. Eric Holder should correct his department’s website immediately.
After more than four years, it doesn’t look like Eric Holder or the DOJ intend to correct the false information on the DOJ website, despite various requests and media coverage of the falsehood. The failure to correct the factually incorrect information from the DOJ that is now being extensively quoted by universities, journalists, in books and YouTube videos, and by the American Bar Association is especially disturbing given Obama’s proclamation in 2009 that:
Under my administration, the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over. To undermine scientific integrity is to undermine our democracy. It is contrary to our way of life.
It’s now time to call upon Glenn Kessler, and the Washington Post’s Fact Checker Project, whose purpose is to “truth squad” the “statements of political figures regarding issues of great importance, be they national, international or local.” I think Eric Holder’s statement deserves a “four Pinocchio” rating (a “whopper”) for “undermining our democracy” with false information and I hope Glenn Kessler will respond to my email request and put Eric Holder’s statement to the Washington Post “truth squad” test.