I have to separate COPS killing unarmed young black men from what’s happening in black neighborhoods over in Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago or New York. (Pick your urban area of choice).
Yes it’s true. Young black men are killing each other at a rapid pace in urban ghettos, causing the media to report the body count every weekend, while black folks point out that the same rage unleashed for Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown should be unleashed for “black on black” crime.
I confess. It frustrates me. First of all, most violent crime is intra-racial. In other words, people commit crime where they live. So “black on black” crime is no more a phenomenon than “white on white” crime. Second, the fact that “ghettos” have higher crime, including violent crime, is hardly newsworthy.
Let’s be clear: ghettos did not happen by accident. They were created by federal housing policies to enrich white suburban America, and leave poor, disenfranchised, minorities behind. Ta-Nahesi Coates describes the research on this issue beautifully here.
So, think about this. When you essentially create entire neighborhoods, without jobs, access to quality education, and role models, and you allow drugs to infiltrate (and be clear: drugs are allowed in)…and then start a “war on drugs” (that curiously fails to nab those with the planes making international trips to get the drugs and infuse them into poor black neighborhoods), and that war is waged against poor black and Latino men (even though white people come from the suburbs to these neighborhoods to “score” and then return to their suburban homes to use, with their criminal records unscathed), thereby leaving these young men with criminal records and even fewer job prospects….Then you destroy the Black family…leaving ghettos riddled with people who have no jobs, no education, no money, no HOPE and living in despair…then you create the perfect conditions for violence. Against themselves.
This situation was CREATED. Against people who have no resources, no platform, and no voice with which to fight back. Do you think this violence would ever be allowed in upper middle class and wealthy neighborhoods in any urban city in America? Nope. It would be shut down. Quick. Fast. In a Hurry. But, as long as they are taking out each other? Well, who cares about poor, black folks? There’s just no ROI on investing in ghettos for those who helped to create them.
The two situations (white cops killing unarmed black men) and black on black crime in urban ghettos simply cannot be compared…except to say that SYSTEMIC RACISM and STRUCTURAL INEQUITIES created and allow both to continue.
And let’s keep it 100.
In the right set of circumstances, for long enough, each one of us could be broken. And if left with nothing but basic survival instincts, those instincts will eventually come out. I don’t disagree that we have to try to overcome these deficits, but I unequivocally reject the racist notion of pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. The very notion of expecting the oppressed and least-resourced, least-educated among us to overcome systemic racism and disempowerment by sheer will is incredibly short-sighted, without an equal full court press on the system to level the playing field. All of that makes perfect sense on a level playing field. Then those who have any sort of ambition can make it and those who don’t want anything, won’t get anything. But right now the deck is stacked and marked against us.
“Cops on blacks” crime is worthy of a separate (and urgent) discussion.