Black folks who kill and hurt other Black folks are being arrested and prosecuted. It happens every day. The jails are full of young Black folks, and we shouldn’t try to make those who supported justice for Trayvon feel as if they have slighted someone else’s child. It’s simply not true.
The issues of ghetto violence and violence generated as a result of racial hatred are not mutually exclusive. At bottom they come from the same source: racism. One is externalized and the other is internalized.
When Emmett Till was murdered, that same weekend Negroes all over the country got shot or knifed for some reason or another. But Black folks talked about the Till case because young Emmett hadn’t done anything really offensive. He hadn’t accidentally stepped on anyone’s foot, or owed anyone money, or done something disrespectful like calling someone out of their name.
No, folks were outraged because the boy was murdered just because he was a Black boy. There was outrage because the contract that we have with the government as its citizens was broken. That contract guarantees certain inalienable rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The system had an obligation to make sure that justice would be meted out and the murderers brought to justice. But it failed on every count, just as it fails us every day in subtle and not so subtle ways.
However, Black oppressed folks have always saved most of their indignation for their Black brother or sister. And there is nothing mystical about that. The British colonizers of Ireland mocked the Irishmen they were oppressing and made fun of the fact that all they seemed to enjoy doing was fighting and drinking. Even in the efforts of Northern Ireland to free itself from British tyranny, you heard much more about internal Irish conflict than about actions against the British.
What if we knew the name of every victim of violence in the hood? What would we do? Would we do all that we could to make sure that didn’t happen again, or would we offer condolences or make promises to clean up the neighborhood? Most likely we will continue to do what we have always done, which is blame the hood, and of course get what we have always got — continued pathology in the hood.
It’s rather silly that in 2012 a people who had to launch an entire movement to get their constitutional rights simply acknowledged would now pretend that everything is just fine and that ghetto pathology comes out of the blue sky. I understand people’s frustration, but it has to be aimed at the right source.
Are we suggesting that we should be less concerned about the system’s violence? A system that has the power to wipe us all off the face of the earth and is much better armed and financed than the ghetto menace? A system that once used its power to enslave us all and wouldn’t even allow us to be “official” second-class citizens?
And so should us Black folks — especially us God-fearing folks — only be concerned about folks who look like us? Aren’t all human beings God’s creatures? So shouldn’t we be concerned about all loss of life? Shouldn’t we want to know the names of all those innocent Iraqis and Afghanis? That’s right, they’re innocent because they haven’t done anything to any of us.
Shouldn’t the preachers and the naysayers also condemn the urinating on dead bodies of so-called enemy soldiers, and the random murder and the torture of prisoners?
I say shame on the folks who want to criticize others for fighting for the rights that we have a right to expect constitutionally. We ought to be concerned about all unwarranted violence, whether it be in the hood by hoodlums, by racists, by racist cops or by the U.S. government.
Mel Reeves welcomes reader responses to email@example.com.