# Understanding Per Capita

Updated Feb 21, 2024 at 12:21PM EST by Zach.

Added Feb 20, 2024 at 05:19PM EST by

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Understanding Per Capita refers to a series of memes that ridicule people failing to grasp the per capita distribution in statistics and have been primarily used to target Black people in online arguments on sites such as 4chan. The per capita memes have been used similarly to The Breakfast Question and other dog whistle memes.

## Origin

Per capita is a Latin phrase meaning "per person." In statistics, per capita means that the provided distribution is normalized per size of each represented group. For example, the total amount of money spent daily by group A is \$10,000 and the total amount spent by group B is \$100,000. However, if group A consists of 10 people and group B consists of 500 people, then group A spends \$1,000 daily per capita and group B spends \$200 daily per capita.

On October 8th, 2017, X[1] / Twitter user @millze2010 wrote, "Like I said per capita is a system that whites created to look less violent while making us look more violent" (shown below) The screenshot of the post was shared on imageboards[2] and forums[3] in the following years.

On January 3rd, 2022, an anonymous 4chan[4] user created a /pol/ thread in which they wrote that Black people did not understand the concept of "per capita," with the thread garnering over 90 replies in two years (shown below, left). On September 5th of that year, an anonymous user created another thread in /pol/[5] about people having issues understanding statistical averages and per capita, with the thread garnering 320 replies in a similar timeframe (shown below, right).

Screenshots of the latter thread saw viral spread online in the following years. For instance, on September 22nd, 2022, Redditor Quelzalquartz posted it to the /r/4chan[6] subreddit, where the screenshot garnered over 3,300 upvotes in two years. On May 30th, 2023, iFunny[7] user aphroditesdaughter posted it, gaining over 12,200 smiles on the platform in one year.

On December 15th, 2022, X[8] user @BasedPeterP posted a meme that received over 47,100 views, 120 reposts and 1,000 likes in roughly one year and saw further spread through reposts.[9]

Memes about not understanding per capita achieved significant spread on 4chan and X / Twitter in May and June 2023, notably following the virality of The Breakfast Question, Smoke Detector Beeping and other similar memes ridiculing Black people (examples shown below).

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###### Whoop DeDoo

Black people on Twitter are dumb as a rock.

Just like everyone else on Twitter.

+50
###### winton overwat

It's a real statistic value. Usually you want data to reflect proportionally to the population.

Racists on Twitter, however, pretend it's a gotcha when they don't know what they're talking about.

+26