Common and John Legend twist facts in Oscar speech

Not sure if you watched the entire Academy Awards show on Sunday (I fell asleep somewhere after Lady Gaga sang), but you may have heard about rapper Common and John Legend’s impassioned comments about “justice” when they accepted their Oscar for Best Song.

While they mentioned gender, sexual orientation and the struggle for democracy in Hong Kong, the flavor of their comments was the terrible injustice being meted out to black Americans to this day.

In their speech, Legend cited some facts, which were troubling on the face of it, but also troubling because they are twisted to promote a specific narrative.

“There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850.” According to the 1850 Census, out of a total US population of 23 million, about 3 million were slaves. Of those, about 870,000 were black males above the age of 15.

Via Politicfact, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, there were 526,000 black men serving time in state or federal correctional facilities in 2013, plus 877,000 on probation and 280,000 on parole. So if you add all those numbers up, you get to 1.68 million. Yes, that is more than the number of black slaves in 1850.

However, the numbers are really meaningless when you look at those numbers in terms of total population.

The 1850 census recorded about 3 million “colored people” (free and enslaved) in the U.S. The 870,000 figure represents 29 percent of the total colored population.

There are currently about 41 million black Americans. Even with 1.68 million under correctional control, that represents just four percent of the total black population. Just four percent compared to 29 percent in chains.

It was much worse to be black in America in 1850 than it is now.

“We are the most incarcerated nation in the world.” Yes, the United States may have the largest absolute number of people in prison – but first of all, they’re not all black, and secondly, you’d be surprised at the nations with larger per capita populations. I daresay most of those nations have much “browner” populations than the U.S. – aside from Russia.

Statistic: Countries with the largest number of prisoners per 100,000 of the national population, as of June 2014 | Statista

Numbers are bandied about to prove a point by both sides, left and right. However, as it has oft been repeated, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”


  1. The thing that I hate about things like this is that you’re held captive by whatever they say. What are you going to do, boo them? Conservative actors, what few dare to exist in the light of day have to decide to either clap along or risk the chance that the camera sees them not clapping. It’s very bullying.

  2. Slaves did nothing to become slaves. Prisoners broke the law and are facing the consequences of such. It’s an idiotic comparison.

    Unless he is also saying the entire black prison population is somehow innocent, they have nothing in common other than their skin tone. I’m sure there are innocent black people in prison (whites as well) but the majority actually committed a crime. Why is that not the problem? Maybe there’s a black crime problem they should be trying to fix.

    • This is exactly what I’ve been saying..thank you! I actually think the comparison was insulting to any of their ancestors who were slaves.

  3. Black kid is 10 times more likely to face prison time for a drug offense. Even if black and white kids use drugs at the same rate. Black people are 23% of NY population but where 53% percent of the stopped and frisked. The Prison Industrial Complex looks to the black community when they need to shore up their bottom line.

  4. Parents are to blame if their children turn to gangs and drugs instead of getting a good education and make something of themselves.. Any nationality or race has it’s bad actors but as a parent you are the one even if you are single, form the character of your child. if you bring him or her up as a victim blaming everyone and everything else for their failure to mature they will be lost. It has nothing to do with being poor or living in a ghetto.

  5. And here goes ALLEN (UNCLE RUCKUS) West again….over and over you try to show that being black is WRONG and white is sooo RIGHT! 99% of your articles concerning black people are meant to show black people in a negative light!
    There are MILLIONS upon MILLIONS of hard working black folks that are successful in this nation how about you speak about them UNCLE RUCKUS! Such a disgrace!!!

    • Ruckus, more importantly why don’t you and the minority of blacks think Allen West Is a great role model? He is one of the millions of successful blacks and should be an example of blacks succeeding? Is the thug life more appealing?

      • The majority of black America doesn’t know who he is because he doesn’t try to appeal to the black community. You can call him a success story they is reserved to a white audience.. He doesn’t use his success to inspire black youth…..more like he uses his success to label people, discourage people and to put down people.

      • You’re wrong there! Col.West does alot for the black community or those who pay attention! He like Dr Carson use what they know and accomplished, as an example of what is possible!

      • Al not so Sharpton is more your idol! A race baiting tax fraud wanna be preacher! He helps the black commintiy so much more…

      • I’m not gouging to wait cause I already know….ALLEN doesn’t do anything…..he doesn’t vist….nothing

      • still waiting on exactly WHAT does mr west does for the black community. I did a search on it once to see if he ever gave a speech or anything….came up with NOTHING!!!

      • Oh wait! You were not going to wait for an answer, so i thought you would do what any curious individual would do, and research your question. All you have to do is go! Heck the schedule for Col.West and all his activities are on his website…dont worry, your computer won’t melt if you visit for yourself and read. Have a great day.

      • There is nothing on that shows him speaking at a black event….nothing shows him speaking IN the black community!

      • Of course there is…ever heard of Archives. It is a new year, therfore last year’s and the year before that are Archived. You just want things handed to you rather than research it. Your on your own Sparky, lunch break is over. I’m moving on to the next topic. CIAO! Sianarra…adios…arrivederche..bonjour.

      • where are they…you say he has spoken to the black community…when and where? Still waiting! Please…don’t waste your time looking because you will not find anything!!!

      • Who did he speak to??? Was it a bunch of conservatives or the black community???? Why do keep trying??? He doesn’t attend functions, speak at or do anything to support the black community….if he did the majority of his followers wouldn’t follow him anymore

      • Lol…your a joke! There are black conservatives which are also part of a community!

        I’m done with you; you just don’t like an accomplished black man, who is 4th generation military and actually knows what he’s talking about! Col.West speaks to everybody…especially to the black community!

        Yawn…you’re boring!

      •’ve debunked nothing. You, apparently wouldn’t know evidence if it sat in front of you. Once again, your a JOKE!! You’ll NEVER have the
        Last word with me…NEVER!

      • Speaking
        If you are interested in having Allen West speak to your organization or company, we’d love to work with you.

        For community, academic and political organizations, please email [email protected].

        For corporate events, trade associations, colleges and universities, and engagements outside of the United States, please contact Keith M. Lambert, Senior Vice President at Worldwide Speakers Group, via email [email protected] or phone 703-373-9806.

        Join Allen on the front lines.
        Sign up for Allen B. West’s free email newsletter, and we’ll make sure to keep you in the loop.



        Go ahead call them get their schedules for 2013, 2014 and 2015. They’ll be happy to provide them to you.

        Can’t make it any easier for you , unless you just can’t bring yourself to find out for yourself.

        Bye-bye you!

      • Allen west knows that if he shows support for the BLACK COMMUNITY he will lose the followers that makes him rich…..its not gonna happen Skippy!

      • Again.. WRONG again there Gufus! He maybe comfortable, but far from RICH! Career military do not make the retirement they once did! So now you’re going to fault a dynamic speaker for getting paid! He doesn’t command the speaking $ that others get paid. So what’s your problem Sparky!? Don’t like a Black man , who actually comes from a 4th generation of military service, stands for something other than his skin color, is educated, has a growing Veteran following, is articulate, can actually back up his careers with action and fact! A man a substance, and a patriot!’re a sad, sad, troll of an individual. Go back to sleep Rumple…

      • I’m sorry but you people use the word PATRIOT too frequently! Allen west is not even close to a patriot…more in line of a DOMESTIC TERRORIST! Being in the military taught me NEVER to disrespect the COMMANDER IN CHIEF. I’ve served under republican and democratic presidents and have never disrespected one of them. I may speak on their policies and disagree with them but that RESPECT was always there! Allen West discovered that there is MONEY to be made by disrespecting the commander in chief and exploits the STUPID to get this money!
        Patriot?? No…DOMESTIC TERRORIST fits him better! A DISGRACE to the uniform!!!

      • wait…you said back up with ACTION?? Is he running for any sort of office to seek to change what he complains about so much?? NOPE….this DISGRACE took a job at a THINK TANK and we know……you can fix america better from a THINK TANK than the WHITE HOUSE!! MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      • No one has to run for office to back up anything with action! You’re the disgrace by not being able to see and acknowledge accomplishments of a highly decorated man! Those who served with Col.West have said they would follow him again! Those who worked with him in Congress also said had his district not been rerouted, he’d still be in Office. Your blant jealously is showing.

      • He was exaunerated and cleared of any wrong doing! Lots of people in Command get released from command because of things beyond their control! That doesnt mean he wasn’t good at his job, because with those who served with him saying they’d serve with him again.. actually says more than your sour grapes.

      • He was not cleared of ANYTHING….he was relieved of command and forced to retire…sorry but WHY do you people MAKE STUFF UP! Things were not “OUT OF CONTROL” he let his men beat the prisoner for almost a HOUR then LOST HIS COOL!! DISGRACE!!!

      • It’s hard to believe you can’t converse with out insulting or calling anyone names…lol that’s why no one takes your insults seriously. Yaaawn….

        oh and yes, I excercise my Citizenship by Voting in every election since 18…never not voted. Guess bec add use my 6th time great grandfather was the scribe for the Bill of Rights, so it was taught to us at an very age the importance of voting. ♡

      • You have no facts to support you….you make things up and believe they are FACT….sorry but IDIOT fits!!

      • Awe..sticks and stones man…you just don’t want to research it yourself. Sad really, because I’ve had no need to make up anything. But hey you have the need to be hateful towards Col.West, so anything he does, is so much more than you do.PERIOD

      • I’m presenting FACTS about col west….you are the one with the fairy tales and pixie dust…do some research and you’ll find out everything I’ve said was TRUE!!

      • LOL…You’ve present nothing in facts that hasn’t already been tossed out by courts, because there was nothing! Facts are your beating your head against a wall for no reason! You don’t like him…then get off his page! Your eyes, oh your eyes…I’VE DONE MY RESEARCH! Apparently you haven’t done enough! T.G.I F. Gotta go…have a great weekend.

      • excuse me but it never when to a COURT…this was MILITARY….why do I continue when its apparent that you know NOTHING of what you speak of! Like I said….RESEARCH!!!!!

      • LOL…It went in front of the Board! In front of a Court Martial Board! I’ve sat in on them … on both sides as a witness and on the Board! Why do think no one else has come to your sad rescue! You’re wrong and they’ve moved on…just like I am! So apparently YOU’RE the one who knows nothing about what you rant. I’m right, YOU’RE WRONG!

      • When do boo-boos Al and Jesse go to the black community other than to stick them up? Same for Obama and Holder.

      • Also, the black community isn’t only about thugs and crime like ALLEN west would have you believe. Millions of black people are inspirations to the youth and works with the youth in those communities… would never know this by reading ALLEN wests blog

    • Well that is not exactly true…there are some that have done nothing. There was a video of a kid in St. Louis where he was sitting in the back of a police car and the cops tell him if he doesn’t give them a name they will charge him with a crime

      • Ruckus . . . NEWS FLASH!!!! Refusing to Identify yourself is a crime. Failure to comply, resisting arrest, and hindering an investigation are just few crimes he could be charged with, and there is video evidence that you confirmed. There are several crimes committed when refused to give his name. Stupidity is not an excuse.

      • That’s not entirely true. Unless you are suspected of a crime you do not have to show ID or give them your name. Some states do make it obligatory without cause, but most do not.

        I don’t know the story Ruckus is referring to but if they are only detaining him for failing to ID, they are acting outside of the law.

      • Unless he was being detained he has no reason to give his name. However if he is handcuffed and sitting in the police car I would figure he would have been read his Miranda Rights since that is being detained, which means he wouldn’t have to say anything without a lawyer.

      • I’m sorry idiot but THEY didn’t ask him HIS NAME…they told him to give up someone and if he didn’t they would CHARGE him with a crime that he didn’t commit….they weren’t talking about ANSWERING what his name was!!!
        Daily I’m hearing about people being released from prison for crimes they did not commit.

  6. Is it any wonder you got booted out of Politics? People saw right through your BS. You pathetic POS, you do nothing for the Black community other than put them down, just to score arse licking points from your white audience. And I never see other Blacks who have anything nice to say about you here, I wonder why?

    • You are just another blinded Demoncrat living on the plantation. You worship the ground obama walks on even though he has really screwed over the black population with his recent amnesty push. Hispanics will only lead to more blacks being without jobs. People are sick and tired of being made to feel guilty about the black community. I would have loved to have seen a white actor stating facts about black on white crime. It’s an epidemic that is not going to end well

      • what is it about this world PLANTATION that you LOONS love so much? You know there are MILLIONS upon MILLIONS of black folks that are successful, hard working, god loving out there. Stop believing myths!

      • When 90% of blacks voted for Osama Obama, that makes my point valid. Most blacks are democrats who can’t think for themselves and live on the plantation with their masters made up of Jesse Jackson, Rev Al “the pimp” Sharpton and Democratic task masters telling you how to vote.

      • Don’t you guys get tired of repeating that turd? Do you know what plantation life was like? Black people where wipped and beaten into submission on those plantations. Seriously shut up and go read a book.

      • When did you live on a plantation race punk? And the poster is right. Now the dems have made them slaves to welfare. FOH idiot.

      • You and that dumbass poster are the reasons black people who respect themselves don’t associate with modern conservatives. It’s in all the history books.

      • Inbred race pimps like you are stupid enough to think blacks who respect themselves ascribe to your idiocy. Those type of blacks wouldn’t get near slime like you. Because if they did, they’d kick your ass for putting black people back 50 years.

      • Well listen closely you inbred kune. Not all blacks are filthy ooze like you that crawls out from under Sharpton’s zipper to pimp his race. And I don’t know what kind of fecal matter you run with, I know NO blacks that remotely think as you do. They aren’t about bringing up crap from 150 years ago as some crutch. That’s because they are too busy living life successfully. Now if you and want to suck race pimp meat, go right ahead. And if you want to hang around with similar ignorance and stupidity, enjoy. No charge for the lesson racist. Now suck Al’s meat.

      • 150 years ago is part of American history. Start by telling Jews to stop bringing back holocaust and then get back to me. If you don’t want to hear about slavery don’t talk about plantations. Save the lessons for your kids, if impotent chimps like you can have any.

      • [[ 150 years ago is part of American history.]]

        Too damn bad. If you want to live in the past to justify you being a slimy race pimp, good for you Al.

        [[ Start by telling Jews to stop bringing back holocaust and then get back to me ]]

        Show me all the Jews crying about reparations and leaning on the Holocaust as a crutch and get back to me. Bad move to bring up the Jews pimp.

        [[ If you don’t want to hear about slavery don’t talk about plantations.]]

        Who put you in charge punk? I’ll say what I want. Deal with it.

        [[ Save the lessons for your kids ]]

        Go pollute you kid with more race pimping.

        [[ if impotent chimps like you can have any.]]

        You might be raising my kid primate. Now Al’s waiting for that blow job. Suck on it punk.

      • Hitler gave Jews a country? How damn dumb are you? So you pimp your own people and hate Israel. You’re the ultimate bigot pal. Your kid would be better off dead than have you for a POS father.

      • You don’t have the b4llz to tell a Jew to shut up about the holocaust so you go after my kid. Blacks don’t vote for conservatives because they are lowlife maggots cowards like you.

      • If a Jew comes running up to me telling me that he’s the bitter POS that he is because of something that happened to someone else 70 years ago, I’ll tell him to shut up. And screw you and the little future race pimp you’re grooming.

        [[ Blacks don’t vote for conservatives because they are lowlife maggots cowards like you.]]

        Really bigot? Which black voters? The ignorant fools that think like you? The ones who ave been getting punked by lib pols since LBJ? How has that worked out for them bigot? You stupid baboon.

      • I asked you how that has worked out inbred. You suck dem meat but run like the prison punk you are when I asked how dems have done for you. Does your dad know you suck Al’s joint? You pathetic puke.

      • Perfectly fine. For the millionth time. I good my son is good the black community is surviving like it always did. Some have it rougher than others but America is having it rougher all over. And it did not start with Obama. Bush hasn’t done much for me either by the way. You the one always going on about Al he must in your underwear not mine.

      • Don’t need much to slap the snot out of you pimp. You do most of the work for me. Go play with your race cards.

      • Get over yourself. You and the other racebaiters are constantly bitching about events you never experienced that happened 150 years ago. You think you can read people’s minds and know they’re thinking. I am not in the least bit racist but I feel no guilt for something that happened before you or I were born. As a black you have enjoyed far more rights and preferential treatment than I ever have, whether college admission, job application, promotions, etc. Any crime committed against whites no one asks if it was because of race! And the preponderance of incarcerated blacks just may have something to do with children having children out of wedlock, fatherless homes, gang/street subculture where academic achievement is ridiculed. So your whole argument is just tiresome and stale.

      • Preponderance of incarcerated blacks is due to black people being targeted by law enforcement and disparity in sentencing. When it comes to those privileges you talk about they don’t apply when judges are handing down sentences. You the one that is tiresome and stale. The likes of you disappear a little more with each passing generation.

      • Get off your ass! Quit making excuses for yourself and criminals. My black friends work for a living, don’t commit crimes, and don’t buy your crap!

    • Well that’s a bunch of horse $hit! The back community is waking up and seeing what great examples both Col. West and Dr. Ben Carson!

  7. Really? This is what you write about…a distinction without a difference (since both interpretations prove the same point…too many black men in prison) to say “He’s lying”…

    …a freaking musician.

    You are a small man


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