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Black-on-Black Violence: What Can Be Done

Op/Ed By Wallace Mabry


Wallace Mabry

Wallace Mabry

There is a need, following the Wednesday night, Aug. 19, drive-by killing of three black youth, and the wounding of four others on Genesee St., to revisit a previous opinion on black-on-black homicides.

What is the motivation behind these killings? Are young black people so immersed in the gangsta-rap philosophy, lifestyle, and tradition that they give little or no relevant importance to another black life? Do these black pseudo-gangstas view themselves in the images of the Italian mafia? Or, are they just plain and simply suicidal, wanting to end their lives by taking other lives, and making all of our lives miserable, and somewhat superfluous because of our losses?

We, black people, have a serious problem that we need to resolve. We have deep psychological and emotional problems that require we look at our families, our children, our brothers, our sisters, our nephews, our nieces, our cousins, our closes relationships and friends, and ourselves in an objective new way. We have to do away with our emotions, in the sense that we need to be prepared to critically determine what it is in which we really believe.

As a black parent, my children are the most important extensions of my life, and of my wife’s life. We, she and I, work hard to provide them with all the necessary and essential things they require to make their lives worthwhile, in their eyes and in our eyes. We give them love in abundance, through our communications with them, and through our everyday contact with them. We hold them responsible for their shortcomings, and we value that they carry out their responsibilities to the best of their abilities. We encourage them to greater heights, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Occasionally, they falter, but, with our help, and the support of our extended family, they rise up, and, in so doing, they know that we love them unconditionally.

What we make every effort to discourage is the establishment, and the maintenance, of a home environment where our children feel neglected by reference to our relationship, our social interactions, and our individual choices of lifestyle. We encourage family unity, and we uphold positive family values.

Certainly, my education and certain readings, in some respect, suggest (but my life experiences question), the claims of no few social scientists that, poverty, and a lack of education are the root causes of the kind of behavior that resulted in the violence which took place Wednesday on Genesee St.

I tend to disagree, primarily because poverty, and a lack of education, do not, per se, equate with a disregard for the lives of others.

Despair is more closely associated with concentrated poverty, and a lack of a formal education. Despair does not equate with violence. It most closely equates with feelings of unrelenting abandonment of hope. It’s what social scientists refer to as clinical depression.

Violence, the type of which occurred on Wednesday, is the end result of a deeper psychological affliction. It is born of self-hatred. Whatever motivation is forwarded as the cause, whether it is clothed in terminology that reeks of disrespect of one person to another, or any other meaningless rationale, it is the individual or individuals’ (someone had to drive the car while the other person fired the shots) inner feelings about himself or herself that rendered the judgment to not only kill, but to spray the crowd with a fusillade of bullets.

Just why there should be an expectation from anyone that, following such an occurrence, there should be a large gathering of black people to protest the insensitive, maniacal act is unflattering of black people. Our shame and pain emanating from the knowledge that we are the blame, and the culprits here, prevent our rushing to the scene.

The crime is ours.

The problem can no longer be shuffled away. We have to take a good look at how we view ourselves and, not only how, but what we project regarding ourselves, and each other, to others. We refer to each other as “niggahs” so frequently during the course of the day, and we treat each other, for the most part, as such, that it is not surprising we have become, in word and deed, the “niggahs” we have conjured to mind.

To further seal our fates, we have convinced ourselves that the word, “niggah,” carries different connotations (meanings) when WE use it. For us, people like Jay-Z and Monique have said, it can carry all the sentiments of endearment, or all the fervor of disapproval.

Young black people, and some not so young, have white friends whom they allow to throw the word, “niggah,” around with abandonment. “You my niggah!” To be sure, most black people have heard it, or maybe have acknowledged a white friend using the expression. And, it is always cool and the gang.

We only get concerned when a white cop kills one of us, because the white cop, in essence, is saying that all “niggahs” deserve is to be killed. Why not? They kill each other with abandonment.

There is, however, a segment of the black population which rejects that reasoning. Perhaps, instead of holding community meetings at some recreation center, at some church, or at some news conference, marching down the streets singing and holding forth signs of solidarity, or even writing some opinion in the Minority Reporter; those of us black people who are concerned and committed to getting word out to the black neighborhoods, about the importance and preciousness of black lives, ought to saturate the black neighborhoods, east side, west side, northeast side, northwest side, with our physical presence, house to house, and engage with people. We get to meet those families who are besieged with family problems, and who may lack the skills and resources to make differences in their lives and the lives of their children. We make a concerted effort to get to know our people, and what it is that they require to make their lives worthwhile. We promise them nothing that we cannot deliver. We do not offer them religion as the panacea of their problems, or as what they lack most to make their lives worthwhile. We offer them the opportunity to be relevant, knowledgeable, and viable human beings in the struggle for a better life.