BLACK ON BLACK VIOLENCE - REAL TALK
What is it with us? Why do we kill each other at a rate that's disproportionately higher than that of other people? Sure, we've heard the excuses before - that we're prone to crime, violent by nature, and poor and oppressed - but what are the real causes?
Here we are now, countless articles & news reports later, and our communities are still in a state of distress. It appears that the problem of black on black crime doesn't seem to be improving, but rather steadily getting worse by the day. But what's really going on?
It's apparent to this observant eye that more often than not we're acting out the way we're expected to act -- that is, fulfiling a role in society that has been decided upon and encouraged by people other than us. All we need to do is look at the television or listen to the radio to experience the sobering statistics or the self-hating bullshit that now passes as black entertainment on the evidently racist major networks to confirm this fact. Thuggishness and gangsterism, misogyny, brutality and ignorance have become synonymous with black life in the eyes of many, both inside and outside of our communities, as a result of both our actions and of corporate America's sanctioning and glorification of negative imagery and behavior. Our worst attributes are always awarded, paraded and celebrated by those whose job it is to keep us in a state of distress. Harsh, you say? Hardly. Fear of non-whites is big business in America, and shows like COPS and virtually any news broadcast aid in the manifestation of that fear and the acceptance of its remedies - increased police presence, new prison construction and the passage of tougher laws. Besides, do you think black life really matters to them? That they care if we kill each other off?
Understand that our focus and priorities need to change, and that nobody can be relied upon to care about us but us. This should be obvious to all of us by now. Things that many of us seem too often to be concerned with (game, pimpin', the life, etc.) are of little importance to others. So let me say it for the record - fuck game. Do you think the bank, the phone company or a prospective employer care about game? Care about pimpin'? Life goes on without it. And while game may make you cute in the eyes of shallow folks, nowadays what you know is more important than how you look or act. Contrary to popular belief, nigga-slick is out of fashion. Only through education and hard work will we move beyond simply surviving to success.
But back to the point. While the violence we see and hear on TV, films, and in black music remains a contributing factor that keeps us on our self-destructive path, it is by no means the sole reason. Many of us have a pent-up rage that easily triggers aggression -- aggression that often results from a combustible blend of cultural and racial baggage that many of us carry.
What we need to do now is break out of the mold of acting out in ways expected of us. Angry black men without focus aren't a threat to anyone but themselves, and have become the targets of ridicule by those outside of our communities. Again, who cares if we kill each other off? We must care.
It can be argued that black life is viewed by many as being worthless, and it should come as no surprise that many studies have confirmed that the punishment blacks receive when the victims of violent crime are white is far more severe than if the victims are black. Add to this the lack of opportunity, sense of deprivation, powerlessness and alienation that many of us experience since birth and the picture becomes all-too-clear -- that society is not set up for our benefit. We have to make our own way, and in order to get there we must first respect ourselves and each other. Easier said than done, you say? Why? Everything is easier when we get along, especially since it appears that many others don't want us to. The name of the game now is to be focused. Stay focused on not only the present, but on your future too. How many young folks today can't envision themselves older than 25? How many plan for the future at all?
The devaluation of black life by systematic racism and the media has encouraged many of us to have disrespect for life and to act out our aggressions onto others -- often with the victims being women and other black males. When this happens, we all lose.
And what about gangs and drugs? The introduction of crack cocaine by the CIA into our communities during the 1980's made black youth gangs bigger and more dangerous than they had ever been before. The illicit profits of drug trafficking provided, and continues to provide, vicious incentives for those of us without direction, immediate opportunity or hope to murder ourselves. In fact, much of the recent escalation in the murder rates can be directly traced to busted drug deals, competition over markets, disputes over turf and bruised egos.
So what must we do? We must take responsibility, first and foremost, for both ourselves as individuals and as a collective. We must understand that our brothers and sisters are not our enemies. Again, we have no one to look out for us but us. When you see wrong, speak on it. Intervene. Reach out to your friends and family if they are at risk, and be receptive to other people's points of view if you are feeling like violence is your only alternative. You might just save your life or the life of someone you know.
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