Following a series of violent acts throughout the Rochester community, the Minority Reporter asked local clergy, officials, and community members to answer the following question: “When will black lives matter to black people?” They’ve replied with the following comments, below.
“Black lives should matter to all black people, and not just when a white police officer, or a white civilian takes a black person’s life. We should be as equally outraged when black people commit fratricide, and take each other’s lives. This is the Cain Syndrome. Cain slays Abel, his brother, the first murderer and murder in recorded history. We are suffering from a pandemic of violence. It is a growing and spreading cancer in our community. We, as a people, need to stir from our complacency, and lethargy, and morally and spiritually reinvest in our youths and community,” Rev. Lewis Stewart, president, United Christian Leadership Ministry of Western New York.
“It’s the guns in our community. If the police would do a better job of keeping people from having guns, then all this would stop. Black people need to stick together, because we’re all family. We’re supposed to help each other, and help the community grow, and be better. Just get the guns out. That’s a start,” Cortez Frye, 18, Edison Tech High School Student.
“The question relative to ‘what it would take for black lives to matter to all black people, here, in the Rochester community,’ and black communities throughout the thoroughly racist, U.S. nation-state, is of course a historical question. Unless we are willing to engage in ongoing consistent, deadly serious, broad-based, action-oriented, dialogue, there is no way that we could possibly begin to understand all of the various elements that must be effectively addressed in order to even begin to stem the old, rampant, fratricidal patterns that we are witnessing here in Rochester, and throughout the nation, which is not a matter of one, great-big, coincident,” Howard Eagle, community activist, and Rochester City School District school board candidate.
“It may be based on the fact that, a lot of kids who live in their households aren’t getting the love that they so desire. A lot of kids are aggravated. They want materialistic objects, and its making them commit crimes. They may pick up a gun, and go sell drugs, and go rob somebody to get the money. If a lot of them can’t afford something, then they’re going to get it by any means necessary. We need to establish some type of program, and have a lot of teen talks, like Teen Empowerment. Expand that type of program. I see a lot of these kids, and they’re grieving, but, the mechanism they choose to grieve with is to drink alcohol, and smoke marijuana. At the end of the day, once that wears off, you still have the same grief. I think somebody needs to reach out to these kids, instead of letting them find their own mechanisms to deal with this. And, I think the RPD, they ought to take some of this money that they take from these drug dealers, and use it to catch some of these people who commit these homicides. They need to raise the reward money to more. They need to put it up to about $50,000,” Rodney Manigault, father of recent victim in the Rochester Boys and Girls Club shootings, Raekwon Manigault.
“In order for black lives to matter to black people everywhere, not just the Rochester community, we’re going to have to learn our true identity. Our race is suffering from an identity crisis, and, until we learn our true history and heritage, we’re never going to develop the much-needed love for those who look like us, and our self-esteem will remain grossly under-developed,” Lorenzo Williams, Rochester City School District school board candidate.
“They don’t need all these guns. It’s these guns, for one thing. Where are they getting these guns from?” Ina Felton, 77, city resident.
“Black people in Rochester, and elsewhere, are suffering from a lack of connection to the GOD of our ancestors. Until we return to re-claiming our gift of spirituality, we will continue to stumble in the darkness of self-hatred, and existential dread,” Dr. John S. Walker, pastor.
“I think part of it starts at home. Young males need to have positive male figures in the home, especially since it’s a lot of guy-on-guy crime. The other part of it is, as a community, we need to have more things that are being done for the youth. Just positive things for them to see that people do still care,” Billie Abddeen, 23, city resident.
“Black lives will matter when we see our anger not as self-destructive, but as a unifying force that cuts across age and class. The implosion of the black community upon itself cannot be set apart, in isolation from the sludge of structural barriers to proper housing, employment, healthcare, education, and treatment in our courts that constantly flows into the black community. Our anger is valid, and would knit us together, as we, collectively, in a mass movement, challenge the controllers of the faucet,” Rev. Judith Davis, supporting clergy, Community of the Savior, and co-facilitator, FR=EE’s Race and Education Action and Change Work Group.
“We need better police officers. They don’t stop the crime,” Vernon, city resident.
“It has to start at home, with the raising of your kids, with the chastising. I do believe in spanking, but not abusing kids. I’m gonna’ stick to, ‘it starts at home.’ If you train them when they’re young, a lot of this won’t happen,” Michael Bryant, Jefferson Ave. and Dr. Samuel McCree Way Park panel member.
“Honestly, I don’t really think anything will change. It’s just going to happen. It’s just the environment, and the way they grew up. I just stay away from bad people, places, and things,” Eric Johnson, 18, Rochester City School District student.
“I think it will take a strong commitment to working together. I think it will take the Republicans talking to the Democrats. I think it would take a leap of faith in the churches, to really create a non-judgmental environment for our young people. I think it would take the black community to really study the issues, and learn what it takes to advocate, and really, really get the big picture, and then empower our youth to become doctors, and lawyers, and activists. It’s not going to happen by us hoping. I had people like James Perkins, and my grandmother. My mother was on drugs. She’s clean now, but, I had the community. It wasn’t about who could have the most quotes in the D&C. It was about looking a young, inner-city black child in the face, and saying, ‘you can make it.’ It’s going to take more than just rallies. It’s going to take that strong commitment of giving up a couple of hours on a weekend. It’s going to take an agenda of working together. We have to just do it,” Eileen Graham, ARC of Monroe job coach, Rochester City School District student advocate, and cousin of slain teen Raekwon Manigault.