Op/Ed by Wallace Mabry
Statistical data aside, the disturbing number of black people being killed by black people is far more concerning than any other crisis facing the black community.
Why any person, black, white, or other ethnicity, would question the recklessness of those acts of self-extermination as any less unacceptable to black people as the killings of black males by white, racist cops is beyond my imagination.
And, where each of us stands on the issue is of far less importance than coming up with some meaningful and effective strategies to address the problems inherent in those acts, as well as bringing them to an immediate halt.
One thing, however, needs to be said at the outset.
Increased police presence in the black community, in the form of surveillance cameras, drones, patrols, and the like are not the panacea.
The more black people covet and submit to that kind of police security, the more they come to approve of a policy of lawful containment and management, a conceptual model reminiscent, in some detail, of the Jewish/German experience.
But, let us face it.
We, as a people, have arrived at a point in time, and history, where our destination from here is just about predetermined if we do not take immediate steps to alter our course.
New York State prisons are full of black men, and black women are not untouched by the occurrences of homicides.
Cemeteries, too, are full, just as are trees full of ringed flowers and stuffed animals saluting our dead.
We are becoming perpetual mourners.
A number of rationales have been put forward to explain these killings: drug use and sales; alcoholic rages or miscues; mental health concerns; frustrations; fed-up-ness with how life is proceeding, or not proceeding; and simple disagreements, inflated, that challenge and inspire the will to recoup hurt pride.
A great deal of work, I’m sure, has gone into working with identified street gangs to assess mindsets, and to reprogram patterns of thinking that lead to behaviors which support gang affiliations, and lifestyles that produce, in young black men, the tendency to kill or be killed.
At the same time, all the work put in is up against gangsta music, blasting from the city’s black radio station, IPods, smart cell phones, pumping up gangsta pride and postures.
Music filling young black minds with AK 47 and 9mm rhymes, cocaine and marijuana highs, and the denigration of black womanhood.
All the while the station’s purveyors, in words and tones of black pride and cultural vicissitudes, lash out against that which they are responsible for bringing to the air waves, hence shaping the very lifestyles they claim to reject and abhor.
Black music moves black people, and influences black moods.
We, better than anyone else, know the timeliness of its rhythms.
We, better than anyone else, know the concomitant emotions that underscore its messages.
Black people, however, need to dialogue with black people around those, and other related concerns.
We need to, if we are at all concerned about controlling our destinies, or we will continue to be controlled by the destinies of others.
Where to begin?
This writer would suggest a black summit conference, duly organized, and limited to black people only.
The black community is capable (I have confidence) of being polled by knowledgeable black people to call forth and to produce intelligent, articulate, well-grounded black people from within the community, who are not attached to political parties, or who hold political positions in the community.
Those selected individuals will have the task of firming up an agenda that covers the various and sundry concerns of the community.
This does not disregard black politicians, who can surely attend and participate; however, they cannot expect to hold the community hostage to any political lectures of their own designs in order to better their positions with the white establishment.
What they can support, beforehand, is identifying a location for such a summit to take place (if they are so willing), and a willingness to carry the mandates of the summit forward in their respective roles as elected officials.
It is not gainsaid that such an approach to black problem solving will be resisted by a great number of black people who will argue for a diverse approach.
The “we” of diversity will explain, and proclaim, what has always been forwarded to justify the inclusion of white people “who support, and who have always supported” civil rights and human rights.
Argue what they may, I say when black people need to have a discussion, only black people should be involved.