In Defense of My People
Every since George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin, African-Americans have been demanding for justice. For us, the unjust verdict in the George Zimmerman case is not the end of the discussion. We are demanding that the Department of Justice bring federal charges against that killer. We are demanding an end to racial profiling. We are demanding the elimination of Stand Your Ground laws around the country. Such laws are a license to hunt and kill black people.
To avoid a real discussion about those issues, the Right is desperately trying to change the subject from one about justice into one about black pathology. Instead of addressing our call for social justice, conservatives are demonizing black people. The right is not genuinely concerned about “black on black” violence and other problems plaguing the black community. They are only reinforcing negative stereotypes about black people. They are simply blaming the victims.
Don Lemon is the latest negro to engage in victim blaming. Despite his claims to the contrary, Lemon is deflecting attention away from the previously stated issues at hand. Lemon recently went on a seven minute rant trashing his own people on national television before a largely white audience. According to his myopic viewpoint, all of our problems stem from sagging pants, using the N word, littering in our neighborhoods, dropping out of school and the high percentage of out-of-wedlock births. Lemon’s segment included video of Bill O’Reilly ranting about violence in the black community. Violence, high dropout rates, and high out-of-wedlock birthrates are merely symptoms of systemic problems such as poverty, unemployment, inferior schools, and the war on drugs.
Ending poverty is not a top national priority. We always hear politicians talk about protecting the middle class. Politicians rarely talk about waging a war of poverty. Poverty is a breeding ground for a multitude of problems. Many poor men are less likely to marry because they simply do not have the financial means to maintain and sustain a family. When one is poor and unemployed and living in an environment that is saturated with drugs and guns, one is more likely to resort to selling drugs in order to survive.
As Tupac says in his song “Change”, instead of waging a war on poverty, the government is waging a war on drugs. That war is essentially a war on black people. As Michelle Alexander notes in her book The New Jim Crow, African-Americans do not use or sell more drugs than whites. More specifically, Alexander states, “Studies show that people of all colors use and sell illegal drugs at remarkably similar rates. If there are significant differences in the surveys to be found, they frequently suggest that whites, particularly white youth, are more likely to engage in drug crime than people of color.” However, the police focus their efforts in the black community thereby exacerbating the problem of mass incarceration in our community. Mass incarceration contributes to the destruction of the black family. A man cannot be there for his family if he is in jail.
America has not made improving poor inner-city schools a top priority either. Instead of treating the high African-American dropout rate as a national disaster, it is viewed as a problem in “the black precincts”. The federal, state, and local governments must build an infrastructure to encourage young black students to finish high school. We must give our children the tools they need to attend college or trade schools. When people are educated and employed, they are less likely to engage in criminal activity.
If conservatives truly cared about black on black violence, they would do several things. They would support background checks for gun purchases. They would fight to close gun show loopholes that allow our streets to be flooded with guns. The easy availability of such weapons fuels the carnage in Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, and other urban centers. They would support Rep. Robert “Bobby” Scott’s Youth Promise Act, a “long-term, evidence-based and locally based” plan to reduce violence by addressing the root causes of the problem. Finally, they would stop blocking job creation bills. How can you take care of your family when you do not have a job?
Until Don Lemon, Bill O’Reilly, and others are willing to address the root causes of violence, they need to shut the hell up. Don Lemon, why didn’t you rant on and on about poverty, unemployment, gun control, inferior schools, and mass incarceration?
This article is cross-posted on New Possibilities.