“If you want to solve the problem, take responsibility for your role in it”.
Even though we are likely to condemn physical violence, I find it interesting that profanity, which is usually the precursor, is not. While it is not my intent to question whether the use of this language is right or wrong; primarily because right or wrong is relative and therefore does not exist, I do question the appropriateness of the context in which it is used.
Drawing upon an example that was frequently used in the Teachings of Abraham, if your house were on fire, bringing the heavy hoses, ladders, axes and all of the other equipment necessary to contain and ultimately extinguish the fire would be perfectly appropriate. On the other hand, if there were no fire, the use of this equipment would be inappropriate, and within the context of profanity, let us ask ourselves the question. Considering the rapid increase of violence in our inner-city neighborhoods, fueled by the harsh words and volatility of profanity, is it appropriate, or even necessary, to encourage this language as a form of communication? Now, at first, there may not seem to be a relevant connection but there is. Moreover, until we shine the light of awareness upon the role we play; or complicit in our silence, in the destruction of our inner city communities and beyond, it will continue to fester, and this brings us to the purpose of this discussion. Finally, since the reception of this message is unpredictable, I draw upon the sage advice that I remember hearing somewhere. It advises us that when it comes to delivering messages, it is not how well it is received; instead, it is how well it is presented. With that in mind, I will start here and see how it goes.
As black Americans, we take great pride in highlighting our tremendous contributions to the forward movement of our society, and well we should. While far too many to mention, let us just say that they are, and continue to be impressive, with no end in sight. However, there is a downside to our contributions that as a culture we can no longer ignore. Further, I share this information for the greater good of society, as a whole, and I trust it will be received in that vein, so let us start here.
If we were honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that the majority of the violence in our inner cities and beyond is at the hands of blacks, and I would venture to say men; the ages of which keep getting younger. While I do not follow the news, a recent clip showed a fifteen-year-old not only carjacking at gunpoint but proceeding to beat the owner. The point made here is that we cannot continue to ignore behavior that tears at the very fabric of our society, while at the same time pretending there is nothing we can do about it, and here is another one that I have difficulty wrapping my mind around. When it comes to black lives, how is it that we determine that lives lost at the hands of law enforcement or allegedly racially motivated; both of which pale by comparison, demand so much more attention than those that occur in black communities at the hands of other blacks? Then we give lip service to the fact that the incarceration of young black men is disproportionate to that of their white counterparts. Even though that might be true, consider this. While 75% of black males are victims of violent crimes, 71% are perpetrators of those crimes, and I think that in that regard we have two choices.
First, keep in mind that we are the only culture that kills and maim our own with impunity, and that alone should be cause for major concern. Further, since there are things that we can do, we can no longer use that as an excuse because it simply is not true. In my book Living from Within, there are a number of suggestions that will help these young men and women to see a life that transcends gangs and violence. However, if you do not read the book the following will give us an overall place to start. Following the format for crimes at the hands of law enforcement or allegedly racially motivated, the A-listers and those who have access to the media can come forward and stand tall as a united front with the brave few who are already working tirelessly on behalf of their community. Under the umbrella of that kind of strength (as with other protests), a message can be sent loud and clear, and mean that enough is enough! As further motivation, I encourage you to read the blog entitled Do black lives matter to other blacks? More importantly, this blog contains a video with Denzel Washington, and among other powerful messages, he encourages “each one to teach one”. Please watch.
While we end this discussion for now (to be continued in the next discussion), I would like to say that I do understand our concerns about being cast in a negative light by the media; however, there are two things to keep in mind. First, with the ongoing increase in black-on-black violence, I would say that we are doing it to ourselves. Secondly, in the interest of lives being lost and families being ripped apart regularly, I believe that it is time to put our pride aside and focus on the bigger picture. We are not being asked to single-handedly put an end to the violence that continues to plague our society; we only ask that, no matter how small, each of us do our part. In that regard, on behalf of the families who are most probably grieving the senseless loss of their loved one as we speak; I say thank you!