As evidenced by the ever-increasing rise in black-on-black violence, the answer to the above question is a resounding no, but there are exceptions. If the crime is allegedly racially motivated, at the hand of law enforcement, and has the potential to receive media coverage, then that life matters. However, if the victim does not fit the above criterion, for all practical purposes, the crime goes unnoticed. If the assault ends in death, then at least the story will make the 10 o’clock news. On the other hand, if the outcome is maiming or disfiguring the victim; even if it means that he/she spends the rest of their life in a wheelchair, then chances are the story will never reach the light of day, which oddly enough does not seem to strike us as being relevant, and consider this. With all of the energy invested in protecting ourselves from the ravages of allegedly racially motivated crimes and those at the hands of law enforcement, it gives the impression that these crimes are the greatest threat to our community and that is nowhere close to accurate. If we look at the statistics, it becomes clear that the real threat to the safety of the black community, and on many levels of society as a whole, is the alarming increase in black-on-black violence.
Statistically, the life span of the black male is shortened by 80-90% due to homicide, at the hands of another black; which shifts the threat from the police officer being the black man’s worse nightmare to his next-door neighbor. Further, while it is true that 75% of black men are victims of violent crimes, 72% are perpetrators of those crimes. Next, from January 2022 to the present, police records report 448 homicides. Except for about 85 of those victims, give or take a few; there were approximately 10 black females, and the rest were black males, with the youngest of the group being two five-year-olds, one of which I believe was a female found shot to death, and the oldest was an 87-year-old-female. Further, all of these crimes occurred in predominantly black, known high-crime neighborhoods. Additionally, the above were homicides and do not take into account shootings, stabbings, and other violent crimes during this period, and here is the irony of it all.
Even without the advantage of statistics, I think that it is safe to say that the year-to-date number of alleged racially motivated homicides and those at the hands of law enforcement pale by comparison to the violence at the hand of other blacks. However, out of fear of portraying blacks in a negative light, we seem to be more at ease with ourselves if we keep this abhorrent behavior under wraps, which allows it to fester and continue to grow. Further, we have not even mentioned carjacking, which is another area of growing concern. Again, I have no statistics to support the supposition, but just by seeing the images on television, it becomes clear that the perpetrators of these crimes are predominately black, and are becoming younger and younger. Additionally, I cannot imagine that this disproportionate response to violence in black communities has gone unnoticed by white America. However, if anyone dared to speak out they would immediately be labeled a racist, and the fact that blacks; especially those who are in a position to capture media attention do not speak out, remains a mystery to me, but I would like to offer the following.
Just as there were planned, televised discussions regarding relationships between black and white America, perhaps we can use a similar platform to open up discussions regarding black-on-black violence. Further, bring the awareness of their plight by keeping the faces and names of the victims in the eye of the public. As with the crimes that we deem media worthy, this can be done by putting their faces on newspapers, magazines, as well as through media coverage, and consider this. Instead of sending messages, through media outlets, that blacks are victims of racism, help them to understand their strengths and capabilities. Successful black men did not get where they are by believing that racism or any other obstacles in their path immobilized them, and we need to find ways to share this information with potential victims of violent crimes as well as the perpetrators who, as with so many of us, have simply lost their way. Moreover, lets’ not forget that there is a solution to every problem. We just have to care enough to find it and by clicking the link below, which affords us a powerful interview with Denzel Washington, we will find ourselves ahead of the game, and even though we have access to the full interview, here are (what I found to be) some of his most powerful points.
First, as opposed to pointing the finger at white America, Denzel takes us back to the root of the problem, which begins with the home; as noted, police do not arrest seven-year-olds. Next, he encourages us to reach back and pull someone else up, “Each one, teach one.” He goes on to say, “Do not aspire to make a living, aspire to make a difference,” and finally “Put God first.” This interview is one of a kind, and black America truly needs to stop and take notice. Finally, once we put the intent out there to serve our fellow man, the Laws of the Universe; or God if you prefer, will take us there.
“We can surrender to hate or compassion. Pick the one we want to receive.”
Betsy Otter Thompson