Excuses, Excuses, Excuses
What kind of monster lures a 9-year-old boy into an alley, only to assassinate him with multiple shots to the head and neck? What sort of father would facilitate the murder of his own son by knowingly associating with known assassins? What sort of mother leaves her 1-year-old infant in the care of an 8-year-old child? And what manner of society; what variety of culture not only creates, but tolerates such individuals? The answers lay no further than the nearest mirror.
On or about November 11, 2015, an 8-year-old child beat and killed 1-year-old Kelci Devine Lewis when she wouldn’t stop crying. Their mothers apparently thought it appropriate to let one child babysit another child so they could go clubbing. The boy now stands accused of murder and at least one of the mothers has been charged with manslaughter. http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/police-8-year-old-charged-in-beating-death-of-1.
On Monday, November 2, 2015, 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee was murdered in a South Side Chicago alley, allegedly because of his father’s gang ties and warfare between rival gangs, the Terror Dome faction of the Black P Stones and the Killa Ward component of the Gangster Disciples. Tyshawn’s father, a convicted felon and reported member of the Disciples, has been less than cooperative with the authorities. http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/police-official-boy-targeted-because-of-fathers-gang.
Some of us blame poverty and the white power structure for these outrages. According to Angel Grant of Increase the Peace, a grass-roots effort in Chicago, “[A] lot of the violence stems from poverty. There also aren’t many role models who are able to give the kids guidance. As a result the streets are reaching our kids at a young age” http://rolingout.com/2015/11/06/tyshawn-lee-allegedly-executed-fathers-affiliation-gangs. Never mind that many of these horrors are committed by grown ass men.
“Tyshawn Lee’s Murder is an Outrage, but Why Criticize Black Lives Matter” an article printed in the November 12, 2015, on-line edition of Rolling Out Magazine takes a similar tact. According to the article “a system created the neighborhoods” in which these and like incidents occur and that (only), “those in power have the influence and power to affect change.” Residents of at-risk communities are apparently excluded from “those in power”.
The article goes on to state “before we join those who have a vested interest in diminishing Black Lives Matter, we should recognize that those critics aren’t all that concerned with Black people, either —regardless of whether or not those Black lives are from the South Side of Chicago, Ferguson, Missouri, or on a major university campus.” http://rollingout.com/2015/11/12/tyshawn-lees-murder-outrage-criticize-black-lives-matter/.
In keeping with this perspective, the webpage of Black Lives Matter provides “most crime is intra racial with an 84% rate of white on white murders. The continued focus on black on black crime is a diversionary tactic whose goal is to suggest that black people don’t have the right to be outraged about police violence in vulnerable black communities because those communities have a crime problem.”
There is merit to these positions. Some do use black on black violence as a defense to the racism and criminal injustice of the criminal justice system. There are indeed powerful and determined forces which target minority communities. And we readily concede that poor schools, broken families, dysfunctional communities and crushing poverty lead but to the grave.
However, African-Americans have no monopoly on indigence. There are many even poorer than we. And while others have high rates of fratricide none equal that of African-Americans. More importantly, though this era is not without its challenges, we have known times that were far worse.
We owned nothing during our period of bondage, not the clothes on our backs, the food on our tables, the roofs over our heads or the beds on which we lay, assuming of course such necessities were permitted. Our bodies, ours minds and very thoughts belonged to “Massa”.
We were little better when released from slavery, having no homes, employment, assets or income. And during both periods, state sponsored oppression and individual racism were much more direct; infinitely more dangerous than that which exists today.
Yet, despite the many years of want, the multiple eras of deprivation and institutional bias, we did not murder our children. We did not shoot and otherwise lynch each other. There were no drive-bys, drug dealing and little gang activity. We did not advocate in song and dance the intentional abuse of one another by each other. And we neither excused nor tolerated those who did. That is until now.
Something other than poverty is amiss. And that something is the fool, “Nigga”, dog, bitch subculture that dominates much of African-American society, a social order that twist our most cherished values and warps our most sacred institutions.
Each generation is permitted its own heroes, culture and music. However, Gangsta Rap and some elements of Hip Hop are the only musical genres that openly advocate criminal activity, violence, abuse and exploitation of African-Americans by African-Americans. Kill a Nigga, shoot a Nigga, play a Nigga and pimp a Nigga are common refrains of this genre. It is therefore no accident that the names of the gangs that executed Tyshawn mimic those of popular recording artist like Killer, Killa, Killya, Dog or Dogg, Player or Playa, Murder and Murda, Gangster or Gangsta and of course, the ever repellant Pimp this and Pimp that.
Sadly, our reflexive habit is to excuse by explanation, to mitigate if not forgive by justification and deflection our worst behavior. This explains the above cited references to “oppressive system”, “those in power”, “white on white violence” and the purported “suspect motives” of any who question Black Lives Matter.
Tellingly, we make no such excuses and permit no such deflections when someone else does to us what we routinely do to each other. Instead we immediately express outrage and demand personal accountability. Imagine our reaction had Tyshawn Lee been executed in an alley by a group of white police officers or a George Zimmerman.
We are not blind. Racism remains an indelible stain on the fabric of America. And we understand the need to hold law enforcement and those in positions of authority to the highest standard.
However, siege from the opposition is a reason to work together not apart. And we have yet to hear a cognizant explanation of how fratricide makes anything better for and/or in the black community.
The horrible truth is that there are African-Americans who think less about killing another black person than did the KKK of the 1800’s, who are more traitorous to the black community than was Benedict Arnold to the American Revolution and who exploit other African-Americans with the heartless indifference of a Pay Day lender.
If the continued focus on black on black crime is a diversionary tactic whose goal is to negate justifiable outrage at police violence visited upon vulnerable black communities, then the opposite is also true? The sole focus on police violence by some African-Americans while ignoring the brutal reality of black on black crime is a diversionary tactic whose goal is to divert attention from our own culpability.
There is no excuse for fratricide, criminal conduct, referring to one another in the foulest of terms or treating each other in ways far worse than do our adversaries, racism and oppressive systems be damned. There is even less reason to excuse the inexcusable, to defend the indefensible and to hold others to a standard higher than we demand of ourselves.
The power structure is certainly responsible for its sins; for the monsters it creates. We are no less responsible for ours. How we treat each other determines in large part how we will be treated by others. Anything less is unacceptable?
Leo Barron Hicks, Founder and CEO
Blackacre Policy Forum