When I dialed up my erudite friend who teaches at St. Augustine’s University, Professor Natalie, and told her I was writing about the St. Aug.’s student who was shot and killed while Spring Breaking in Washington last week, the first thing she said was, “I hope you aren’t going to write one of those ‘black-on-black crime columns’ without mentioning all of the underlying societal problems that cause people to act the way they do.”
That’s precisely what I was fixing to write, a spleen-venting screed against intra-racial violence – about how black lives won’t matter until they matter to blacks — but because Prof. Natalie’s compassion is exceeded only by her intelligence, she forced me to acknowledge the reality that the crime and dysfunction so prevalent among some blacks can be traced to racism and slavery, to poverty and geography.
It’s organic and systemic.
It’s a mess.
Smirk if you want, but can anyone reasonably refute the reality that racism begets poor schools which beget poor education which begets fewer options which beget low and no pay which begets poverty which begets desperation which – all too often – means somebody’ll be getting a gun?
So, we’ve established that racism sucks and, to some extent, affects most aspects of our lives.
Now, if someone’ll show me the white man who fired the shot or who gave the shooter in D.C. a gun and told him to go shoot Ayana McAllister as she enjoyed a break from school with friends, I’ll call up some leadpipe-swinging homies and we’ll pay him a visit. Or at the least I’ll call the law on him.
In the meantime, the blame for killing that child – her mama and daddy called her “Lollipop” – belongs to the person who loaded the weapon and pulled the trigger.
The shooter hasn’t been identified – apparently everybody in that section of Northeast D.C. went blind when the shots were fired – making it presumptuous to ascribe motive or race to the perpetrator. That’s why this isn’t about the perp. It’s about those who overwhelmingly are the victims. The Bureau of Justice Statistics going back to at least 2011 reports that black teenagers – males and females – remain the most common victims of violence.
The Violence Policy Center, a think tank that studies these things and tries to promote policies to curb gun violence, reports for 2013 that while blacks made up 13 percent of the population, we made up 50 percent of homicide victims. Since people tend to kill where they live, guess who most of the perpetrators were?
In its conclusion, the VPC study stated, “The devastation homicide inflicts on black teens and adults is a national crisis that should be a top priority for policymakers to address.”
It was 41 years ago that the Rev. Jesse Jackson delivered the greatest commencement speech – at, coincidentally, St. Aug’s – I’ve ever heard. That bad boy was so powerful that I still remember portions of it.
Oh, the VPC has a sense of humor, too – a priority for policymakers. Tee hee.
Want to know just how bad this is? I called a buddy at the Washington Post to see if he had a contact within the city’s cop shop to whom I could speak regarding the McAllister investigation. He, not coincidentally, said he was working on the story of a middle-school basketball star who was shot and killed at 2:30 p.m. on New Year’s Day while riding in the car with her mother.
Son of a -
The sociology or psychology departments of schools such as St. Aug’s and Howard and Morehouse should put their brains together, create a joint think tank and commence to develop solutions to the problems afflicting the brains of so many people of color 152 years after slavery ended – 53 years if you include Jim Crow laws.
It was 41 years ago that the Rev. Jesse Jackson delivered the greatest commencement speech – at, coincidentally, St. Aug’s – I’ve ever heard. That bad boy was so powerful that I still remember portions of it. Among other things, the Rev. Jackson said that if a man knocks you into a ditch, it’s not your fault for being down there. It is, however, your responsibility for getting up.
That makes way more sense than remaining down there and whining, he said.
It also makes more sense than simply acknowledging that systemic racism is what makes black males the leading cause of death of black males between the ages of 15 and 34, that makes every black parent live in dread that each time their child leaves the house they will encounter some armed sociopath who is doing the bidding of those who’d rejoice at our obliteration from the Earth.
Speaking of the Ku Klux Klan, do you – each time you see that the boys in the hoods are planning a march and touting a comeback – wonder, “Don’t they know they’ve won? How come they don’t just hang up their robes?”
I swear, it looks like the Klan has subcontracted its old job – intimidating and killing blacks – to black men. Some are doing such a bang up job that the Temptations, in one of their more obscure songs, “Take A Look Around,” could’ve been singing about them:
Desperate with no sense of values
Just an evil mind lurking through the night.
Because of you the streets ain’t safe no more for walking
‘Cos you’re feelin’ so uptight.
Damn, homes. Is that what we want our legacy to be?