Updated: Jul 11
While in the midst of chaos, beneficial chaos that is, we're in a place as Black people where you're going to have to stand up or move out of the way. Due to recent tragic events that ended the lives of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd; we're at a time where injustice appears to be reaching a climax. And yes, the majority of the black community is fed up. I'm sure there's so many victims of racism that has resulted in deaths prior to Trayvon Martin, deaths well in between Cassandra Bland and well after Philando Castile; we still are at the same place and haven't made much progress.
However, what's most disturbing is seeing people from our own community making the phrase "Black on Black" crime become as prominent as Black Lives Matter. Why do we constantly help spin the narrative of our white oppressors? Why do we continue to adopt the ideologies of people who've by every measure continue to keep their knee on our neck? Especially when there is no such thing as "BLACK" crime or white crime for that matter. So how did this phrase come into existence? Well I can assure it definitely wasn't from "us" but rather from our oppressors who saw an opportunity to further paint us as thugs, criminals and hazardous to America once we were free.
Reading an article called "The Origins of the Phrase Black on Black Crime" by Brentin Mock from City Lab; gave somewhat of an insight on where this whole notion of Black on Black crime came from. Mock wrote about how in 1970 a writer for the Chicago Daily Defender wrote a column on how he interviewed a local hustler named Fast Willie and asked him why he robbed and beat up black people.
Willie response was as quoted:
We go where the business is and where the man ain't looking. Can you see me going up to Deerfield, black as I am, trying to stick up? The man would be on me so fast I couldn't get a chewing gum wrapper. Out here the man is too busy whooping them Panthers and giving tickets to mess with me. Anyway, he don't care if niggas get ripped off. But you can bet he's watching his 'thang' back at his own 'hood'.
The rest of Willie's testimony is self-explanatory: He commits crimes against other African Americans because that's who lives around him- and that's what police will let him get away with.
Willie response alone says a whole lot about how systemic racism is heavily rooted in the crime that goes on in our black communities. Willie doesn't rob black people because the color of their skin but rather because he knows he can get away it. Duly noting that he knows if he committed these same acts against his white counterparts he would be punish to the fullest extent of the law. Therein confirming that Willie is like any other criminal, be it white or not, committing crimes due to his environment and his adaptation to survive. Willie also mentioned in the article that black people fall victim to his crimes because that's who is around him. Which, further acknowledges how proximity is a major component when it comes to crime.
Now what should be concerning and be addressed by black people is why does Willie and other black people who commit crimes in our city, feel most comfortable getting away with a crime against their own people? Why isn't Willie held to the same fire when he commits a crime against black people as when he commits it against a white person? That then drives the question on, how do we stop the buck with just our own people and not with those who systematically help perpetuate crime in our community?
My answer is simply that it's a hidden agenda as always. We've never been treated equally or fairly and why would that change when it comes to keeping our community and neighborhoods safe? We don't even get the same treatment when it comes to our health. You can go to predominately black communities and see less farmer's markets and more liquor stores and why is that? So how would keeping crime down and safe benefit them? It would go against their whole narrative of us being thugs, criminals, and barbaric.
Think about when we did have a nice, safe community. When our black money cycled 3 times over in our community before it went outside of our community. Yes, I'm speaking of Tulsa, and what happen? The white people tore it to the ground without as much as some form of remorse. Do you get it now? They don't want to see us thrive! Why would they care about us being victims of crimes when they don't care about us being victims of oppression?
In the 1970s there was a literal out pour of black voices begging for the police to actually tackle the crime in our communities until Reagan started the war on drugs campaign. Wherein the naivety of black people thought this was the answer to their outcry but not understanding that this was a another form of oppression. Another way to have families torn apart with 25 years or better for nonviolent crimes. This was the introduction to "Reaganomics". Reaganomics wiped out the middle class, increased poverty and started the war on drugs; which targeted black people and unfair sentencing.
Like the late Tupac Shakur said as quoted:
The same crime element that white people are scared of, black people are scared of. So, while waiting for legislation to pass, and everything, we next door to the killer. We next door to him 'cause we up in the projects with 80 niggas in a building... Just 'cause we're black, we get along with the killers or something? We get along with rapists 'cause we black and we from the same hood? What is that? We need protection, too.
So I'd advised my fellow brothers and sistas to don't be so quick to run with a phrase about your black people if you aren't understanding of why or who narrative it came from. Should you want to do something about the violence and crime in your community? Of course! However, understand why it's like that because you can't solve the problem without knowing the cause. Understand how perpetuating narratives about black people can be the very thing that keeps us marginalized, especially when it's a white narrative. Help your community but don't demonize it. A lot of why we are the way we are is due to years of oppression and conditioning. And we can combat that if we started to educate ourselves on how we got there and not pointing fingers and saying every man for themselves. I am my brothers keeper and I know it takes a village and a lift up.