Over Memorial Day weekend Baltimore erupted in violent activities which resulted in a number of shootings across the city. Social media overflowed with comments suggesting it is ridiculous for black people to expect others to respect them when they do not respect themselves. Hence the question, “Did Baltimore fuel their critics with an overdose of black-on-black crime last weekend?”
The answer to that rhetorical question is perhaps, that’s right, perhaps, although such an answer might appear to be an unjust assessment. Truth is, the comments confirmed that racism still exists and somehow only blacks kill their own. The phrase “black-on-black crime” gives attention to the fear surrounding the African-American race. Somehow, African-Americans are highlighted and put to shame for committing the same crime as Caucasians. This undeniably illustrates how much Americans have internalized a white supremacist view.
It seems society thinks criticizing the African-American community will alleviate the effects of racism. Ignorant comments like those thrown around depicting black-on-black crime as some kind of “out of the ordinary” venture diverts the attention from the real issues surrounding an oppressed community of disenfranchised people. Authority has a long history of not respecting Black America, so it is confusing as to why so many want to deny it.
Unfortunately, the phrase reveals how deep-rooted “anti-blackness” is within this society. The complex history surrounding the treatment of blacks and law enforcement can no longer be swept under the rug with this misinformed thinking. What happened in Baltimore during the riots and over the weekend was nothing shy of senseless, but it does not validate white cops killing unarmed black men.
After the eruption of violence this weekend in Baltimore, detectives report 30 shootings and nine fatalities. May has already ranked as the deadliest month ever, with four days remaining. Some have suggested the violence is a result of the police force being spread too thin, while others believe law enforcement is staging their own protest due to the indictments surrounding Freddie Gray’s murder. Police Commissioner Anthony Batts is working hard to regain control of the city and forge a more cohesive relationship between law enforcement and the community.
While critics may believe the weekend’s violence has fueled their beliefs about black-on-black crime, contrariwise, this misconception continues to fuel America’s ignorance. Statistics confirm racial exclusivity surrounds the majority of violent criminal activity. The most recent FBI homicide stats suggests nearly 91 percent of black victims are murdered by black offenders, but also states 83 percent of white victims are killed by another Caucasian. Is there no wonder that white-on-white violence is simply called crime?
The stereotyped perception of black-on-black crime reveals how African-Americans are unjustly and disproportionately viewed in society. Systematic racism has framed the way blacks are viewed, especially males. The circumstances surrounding the death of so many unarmed black men represent a much larger issue which refuses to humanize black victims due to the integral guilt attributed to a community because of the color of their skin.
Is Baltimore fueling their critics with the surge of black-on-black violence? The answer for many is yes, but the reality is quite the contrary. The critics have fueled the issues with ignorant statements which reflect that mentality. While Baltimore is a city where 63.3% of its residents are African-American, it is not extraordinary for black criminals to commit against other black people. A more honest term, as opposed to the racially infused “black-on-black crime” would be, simply, crime.
It is time to stop fueling communities which are different with slurs of masked racism. Police brutality is a huge problem within these United States of America, and anyone that denies that fact is a part of the problem. However, equally important are the issues of violent criminality within all communities. Until this becomes part of the ongoing conversation, change will never be realized.
Opinion by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
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All Images Courtesy of Derek Bridges – Flickr License