Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Black Folks, #BlackLivesMatter and Black on Black Crime

Today in Blackness, Black folks call out the hypocrisy of #BlackLivesMatter in the face of Black on Black crime.  Many arguments have been made that protesting police brutality against Black people has nothing to do with the spate of Black on Black crime that plagues major metropolitan cities across the United States. Baltimore. Chiraq. As an interweb surfing millennial I like and share memes showing support for the movement with sayings like "When Ray Ray kills somebody, Ray Ray goes to jail. But when Officer Josh kills Ray Ray, Officer Josh gets off." It's easy to be an internet activist. But what happens when your mindless, though intentional, like and sharing of memes, tweets, posts, and snaps of support are challenged with the uncomfortable truth? The uncomfortable truth that many of the posthumous beneficiaries of the #BlackLivesMatter rallying cry are Black men and women with criminal pasts or at the very least a run in with the law that could have gone very differently than the encounter that led them to be memorialized by protesters fighting against overzealous police. 

Walter Scott ran from his car after he was pulled over in what began as a routine traffic stop. Eric Harris ran from undercover deputies and detectives when he realized the drug deal he thought he was conducting was a setup. Michael Brown allegedly stole a box of cigars which led to a BOLO going out over the Ferguson police radio allegedly matching Brown's description that further intensified his confrontation with Darren Wilson who heard the scanner traffic. Eric Garner was illegally selling loose cigarettes on a street corner. Christian Taylor broke into a car dealership and damaged several vehicles. And Sandra Bland, yes Sandra Bland, was rude and disrespectful to a police officer at the end of her encounter where all she had to do was sign for her ticket and be on her way.

I'm not listing the criminal acts and or questionable behavior of the dead to disparage their peaceful rest. I'm not listing these deeds of victims who were accosted by the police to justify any of the involved officers' actions. I'm only listing these acts because if it had been Sandra and Shaniyah on the block, or if Eric Harris's drug deal had ended in his death at the hands of another gang banger we would not sing protest songs in their honor. Which brings me to beg the question, do Black lives only matter if they are taken by White people, or their deaths are directly related to a system of racist oppression and white privilege? 

Peggy Hubbard seems to think so and she's pissed off about it. 

There are very few protests for the Black men, women, and children killed by stray bullets from gunmen whose skin color matches the victim's own. Lackluster chants of "we need to stop the violence," "break the code of silence,"and "protect our own community"get lost after so many killings in neighborhoods where gun shots ringing out are just apart of daily existence in Westside or Southside, Uptown, Midtown, Downtown, Northside, or Eastside neighborhoods. 

Which brings me to Republican Presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson. The neurosurgeon wrote an op-ed in USA Today saying that the #BlackLivesMatter movement has misfired and that "our righteous anger is misdirected at politically convenient targets instead of real culprits." 

While the op-ed is basically his candidate platform to fix the Black community through typical Republican mores of rejecting welfare, and government handouts mixed in with a little Booker T. Washington "up by your bootstraps" pragmatism, his commentary is not all rooted in conservative group think; especially when it comes to the systemic problems that beget Black on Black crime over the course of generations which goes unprotested, unheralded, and culturally and generationally unnoticed.

"Of course, the protesters are right that racial policing issues exist and some rotten policemen took actions that killed innocent people. Those actions were inexcusable and they should be prosecuted to deter such acts in the future.
But unjust treatment from police did not fill our inner cities with people who face growing hopelessness. Young men and women can't find jobs. Parents don't have the skills to compete in a modern job market. Far too many families are torn and tattered by self-inflicted wounds. Violence often walks alongside people who have given up hope.
I grew up in neighborhoods most Americans were told to never drive through. I saw bullets, drugs and death in the same places I played tag and ball with my friends. Both of my older cousins died on the streets where I lived. I thought that was my destiny." 

Just because the digital age had made the world aware of the injustices Black people face at the hands of police does not mean "victims" who are brutalized are the only Black Lives that Matter. And while no one has said that explicitly it has been implicitly implied with selective outrage, and selective protests for "victims" who are sometimes only victims because of the circumstances they put themselves in. The onus is on police officers to do better, but with Black on Black crime unceasing, the onus is also on Black folks as a whole to do better as well.

If we kill each other without a blink, what's stopping a white person, position of power be damned, from doing it with the same ease?
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