Continued denial of underlying causes will keep violence predictable
Shooting events during this bloody summer of 2016, here and across the country, have long been predictable. So why haven’t plans been devised and implemented to stop, hinder, or slow it? And why, given a half century and more of studies showing the link between violence and poor education, poor jobs, poor housing and poor communities, hasn’t this knowledge been applied?
This is another dangerous period for African Americans and their public spaces and accommodations. Such danger is not new. Recall slavery; recall the “Jim Crow” period; recall the Black Codes instituted after World War I ended in November 1918; recall the conspiracies, in and out of government, to destroy the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and the violent introduction of drugs into Black America in the 1980s.
History’s patterns predict it. So, again, why isn’t that knowledge followed with plans and their implementation? Do the various establishments, including the Black establishment, fear change will end their privileged status quo?
We saw it coming long before the current series of events began in Ferguson, MO, with Michael Brown in August 2014. It continued in Cleveland, Ohio and New York City. In 2015, media attention focused on events in Hempstead, TX; North Charleston, SC; Baltimore, MD; Arlington, TX; and Chicago, Ill. And now, July 2016: Baton Rouge, LA; Falcon Heights, MN; Dallas, TX; Kansas City, MO; and, again, in Minneapolis.
It’s not been that long since whole Black communities were attacked, as we saw in Rosewood, FL and Tulsa, OK (as I reported in my 2001 book).
Today we are experiencing a new version of the age-old debate over “who” matters (Black, White, Brown, Yellow, Blue, etc.). My concern is the lack of attention to “what” matters: failed policies leading to poor education, poor jobs and poor housing contributing to the underlying causes of violence, not to mention families without fathers and returning Black veterans being treated badly upon return.
In recent columns, we wrote about Minneapolis again being like a Little Chicago, about the death of a two-year-old child, and now about another young woman gunned down in the street last week. Too many accept this as so-called “collateral damage.”
The hostility and hatred behind such violence raise key questions: Do we have the capacity to deal with it? Yes, but will we deal with the key causes: poor education that doesn’t prepare for the jobs needed to earn wages to afford stable housing and support a family?
History reminds us we must not forget the elephant in the room: 95 percent of Blacks killed by fellow Blacks. Some suggest we call this “community crime,” another example of denial. Nothing will change until the elected and non-elected leaders stop denying and start facing up to problems confronting all of us, Black and White.
The police are not going to go away, as they should not (or else gangbangers would feel free to bang anyone, anywhere, anytime). Hopefully, as Black Americans we will not become extinct at our own hands. There is a significant burden of responsibility on us to continue as a freed people to develop solutions and corrective actions.
Mr. Long, the recent Kansas City shooter, wrote that no revolution has ever been successful without using violence, and thus carrying out his revenge mission required bloodletting. With Dr. King, we believe his choice of violence as the way to achieve his vision is wrong. Many proposed solutions can’t be successful unless they are authorized and implemented (including the suggestions of our 50 solution papers at our “The Minneapolis Story” website).
God bless Black America. We all need to work hard to stay safe and progress.