Commentary

Saunders: It’s not the Klan, but black men, who are killing black men

bsaunders@newsobserver.comFebruary 12, 2013 

The two stories on The News & Observer’s website were, on first reading, unrelated – despite being side by side Sunday.

Once you read them, though, the connection was unmistakable.

One dealt with the shooting death of Brian Christopher Keys outside a restaurant across from Durham’s The Streets at Southpoint mall Saturday afternoon. Yes, afternoon.

The other dealt with the sentencing of Charles Robert Barefoot Jr. of Benson for threatening to kill Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell. The threat involved a bizarre plot that included sailing down the Neuse River, planting a bomb and escaping back to the water.

That’s not the remarkable thing, though. The remarkable aspect of the case is that Bizzell, the sheriff, is white. So is Barefoot, who is a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

After reading the two stories consecutively, I said of the one about the Klan, “Wow, they’ve started trying to kill white people.”

That isn’t surprising, considering that young black males are doing such a bang-up job of killing each other that the Klan could, conceivably, hang up its robes, tear down its nooses and just drink a toast to the malevolent forces wreaking such deadly havoc among mostly black people. Don’t be surprised if the KKK builds a statue honoring these lead slingers – or at least bestows upon them honorary Klan membership for Meritorious Service in the Destruction of Black America.

The suspects in the death of Keys, a black man, are three other young black men – meaning, if they’re convicted and sentenced to a long prison bid, that’ll be four young dudes whose lives are destroyed simultaneously, lives about which neither the Klan nor anyone else except a warden will ever have to worry.

An ancient proverb – and if it isn’t ancient or a proverb, it should be – goes “When you see your enemy digging a hole, don’t take away his shovel.”

Likewise, when the Klan and everyone else see unmoored young black men bent on fratricide and genocide, why even try to take away their guns? Hell, give ’em more.

‘Mothers of No Tomorrow’

Filmmaker Sixx King has made a documentary called “Mothers of No Tomorrow: An American Genocide,” in which he follows three black mothers whose sons were killed by other black men. “I want,” he told me Monday, “people to see what mothers go through after that 30-second clip on the evening news.” You can find out how to get the film on his website, www.mothersofnotomorrow.com.

King, 35, is lucky he hasn’t been lynched – not by the Klan, but by angry black people – because he put on a Klan robe and mask and stood on a street corner in Philadelphia recently. The stunt was designed, he said, to shake people from their apathy and complacency toward the genocide occurring every day.

In addition to wearing a white robe and pointy-headed hood, he held aloft a sign that pointed out that the KKK killed 3,446 blacks in 86 years.

‘Lost so many friends’

More blacks than that are murdered every six months – usually by other blacks, his sign read.

“I grew up in public housing in Florida,” he said when asked why he was so passionate about this issue, “and I’ve lost so many friends” to violent deaths. “So many friends.”

King said if he were king – or president – he would “send in the National Guard and have it embedded for 36 months, to restore people’s faith in the law’s ability to protect them” from what he called “urban terrorists.”

On his Facebook page, King said he is in the middle of a 15-day fast in honor of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton of Chicago, who was gunned down days after performing in an inauguration parade in Washington.

Speaking of Chicago, it had more than 500 homicides last year. During the first half of 2012 – the most recent period for which I found complete numbers – 201 of the 259 people killed were black. Since most of those occurred in the city’s poorest black neighborhoods, there’s a high probability that an equally high percentage of the victims in the second half of the year were black, too – as were most of the suspects and perpetrators.

Violence is so bad there that one comedian said the city was changing its emergency phone number to simply “9.”

When I first started in newspapers as a copy boy at The Atlanta Constitution three decades ago, a kindly editor would occasionally let me go out and cover a violent crime if we were shorthanded or if the crime occurred in the wrong ZIP code and no one else was anxious to cover it.

Seeing and reporting so much death teaches you to be creative, to find new ways to say “the body of an unidentified black man was found ...” and to convey that each victim was somebody’s son, or brother, or father.

Barefoot, the Klansman, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. I just hope there’ll be some sons and brothers and fathers left by the time he gets out.

bsaunders@newsobserver.com or 919-836-2811 Follow Barry on Twitter: @BarrySaunders9

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