I have a question that I am certain cannot be easily answered or resolved. However, I am going to ask anyway: “What’s the difference between black youth killing black youth and white cops killing black youth?” I know that may ruffle some feathers but it is really something I want to know.
Yes, both are tragic, yet only one gets the Black community in an uproar. I know that I will get a lot of slack for saying this but I constantly hear about black-on-black shootings (none of it makes the major headlines) and it amazes me how it has become the norm. Yet, when anyone non-black does the deed it is time to rally, riot, and ‘come together’. Understand that I am devastated by the loss of innocent life (Michael, Ezell, and the many others) caused by overzealous cops; but I am also tired of hearing sirens and helicopters –in my own neighborhood- chasing down black youth who have just murdered one of their own.
I am an avid viewer of The First 48 and many of the crimes shown are of young black men killing their peers -some of whom they grew up with- for senseless reasons. As I watch the detectives piece together the crime it saddens me to see how close some of the culprits were with their victims. “Yeah, he and I used to play in the schoolyard together.” or “His mom took me in when I was little but the drug hustle tore us apart.” are some of the quotes I recall hearing from the ones who pulled the trigger. What has created this climate within the Black community? When did the tide change and what can be done to get it back on track?
White cops killing Black youth: Tragic. Black youth killing Black youth: Tragic. Black communities settling on one and being radical on the other: Tragic.
A friend and I shared a meal last night and he was able to attend a rally in Leimert Park -a section of South Los Angeles- for Michael Brown. I could not make it due to work but was interested in hearing how it went. He shared that it was mildly organized with good intentions. However, there was one thing he shared that raised my eyebrow. He stated that a young college student got on the microphone and exclaimed “We need our elders to guide us on what to do?” I was taken aback by that statement. I was unclear on what type of ‘guidance’ is needed. But, on the other hand I can empathize with what he is saying. There is no present day Martin, Malcolm, Bayard, or Medgar (at least not to my knowledge) that can muster the people together in a sustained, focused manner.
The Rodney King experience pulled us together…for a moment. Travon Martin pulled us together…for a moment. Michael Brown and Ezell Ford have pulled us together, again. What needs to occur is that we get together and stay together. We cannot let the smoke clear until we are certain that a change has come. We need to unite on all fronts and make a stand against a machine that has been working against us for decades. We need to create a beacon that will sound a reminder enforcing love, unity, and community. The senseless murdering of our own needs to come to a swift end; and the work of establishing ourselves as an organized force for change needs to begin.
The season of being content with the way things needs to cease. It is not going to happen overnight. It may not even happen in my lifetime. But, we need to give our kids an opportunity to live safe in their own community and not fear faces that look like theirs. Racism and prejudice will always be present, but killing ourselves does not have to be. Yes…RALLY…PROTEST…MAKE NOISE…but we must also come together as one for the purposes of changing the scope of our own landscape. We need to instill the value of life into the minds of our youth. We need to teach them how to ‘fight’ with their minds and not guns. We need to remind them of where we came from and challenge them to progress us forward. My prayers are definitely with the families of the victims, but they are also with the youth who have no idea how to get off the misguided path they are currently on.