Saturday, September 22, 2007

Why We Don't March on The Thugs

Father Forgive Us For Livin' While All My Homies Stuck In Prison,
Barely Breathin' Believin That The World Is A Prison,
It's Like A Ghetto We Could Neva Leave, A Broken Rose,
It Could Bloom Through The Cracks Of The Concrete,
So Many Otha Things For Us To See, Things To Be,
Our History so Full Of Tragedy And Misery,
To All My Homies Neva Made It Home,
The Dead peers i Shed Tatooed Tears,For When I'm Alone,
Picture Us Inside A Ghetto Heaven, A Place To Rest,
Findin' Peace Through This Land Of Stress,
In My Chest I Feel Pain, Comin' Sudden Storms,
Life Full Of Rain In This Game Watch For landstorms,
Our Unborn, Neva Gotta Grow Neva Gotta See What's Next,
In This World Full Of Countless Threats,
I Beg God, To Make A Way For Our Ghetto Kids,
To Breathe Show A Sign Make Us All Believe

Tupac Shakur

I read a post over at M.D. Filter’s blog that struck me. He listed all the names of the murder victims in New Orleans and asked the question why no one was marching for these men like they are in Jena. Now, M.D. is white but he is a good guy and I believe is sincere. He wasn’t being sarcastic or making the point out of spite like some people have this week in regards to the Jena 6 rally. I’m not an expert on everything involving black on black crime. I'm just an concerned observer who has lost some close friends to the streets and know how they got there. With that in mind I will try to explain the difference between the rally and the violence and answer his question. If anyone reads this and disagrees please feel free to let me know.
The first thing is that the Jena 6 Rally was not to excuse the actions of the kids involved. It was to call attention to the unbalanced charges given by the district attorney. That deserved attention no matter what is happening on the streets of the inner city. That’s an entirely different issue than black on black crime.
There is a difficulty with black on black crime as it relates to a solution. In my opinion, the only way to truly come up with a solution to this problem is to admit that the last 40 years after integration have been a failure and people gave too much to that struggle to admit that. This fight against destructive behavior would be easy if some group of old white men came out and admitted they have been altering the minds of young black people and influencing them to hate one another on a large scale. That would change everything really fast but it’s not going to happen. Black Americans feel a common bond to each other more than any other group. That’s a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing when something like Jena happens because it leads to common outrage. It’s a curse when it comes to violence because we are not comfortable turning our kids over to the system because when we do that’s an admission of failure by all of us on some level. I don’t think we have a clue what to do about all this killing.
What the rest of the nation is seeing is an internal struggle. It’s a struggle that leads to questions to ponder. Did we embrace the drug culture and subsequent violence because of the money involved? Have black men not had enough control over their need for sex, creating too many kids that were unplanned and abandoned? Are we making the educational system a scapegoat for the lack of home training? Many of our great grandparents could barely read and write and there wasn’t 300 murders a year in major cities. Have the black upper and middle class spent too much time convincing themselves that they have overcame and not enough time in the community trying to help? Is that even their obligation and if it’s not then who’s is it? What about the church’s effectiveness? Having a rally won’t do anything to answer these questions. These issues will only be solved from open and honest discussion. The solution won’t be easy to achieve and I am afraid that there will be more death before we even get close.
The only advice I would give to my white friends is if you have an idea to help save a kid from the streets where you live then by all means do so. I would also advise not to try and make sense of some this unless you want to admit that the culture of this country has messed up my people. If you can’t see that then I can’t have an honest discussion with you either because that means you are ignoring history. There are some built in obstacles that are not our fault that make this problem harder to deal with. We might have to march on those once we get this violence under control.


m.d. said...

Good stuff. Thank you for recognizing that I was not trying to minimize the march in Jena, but spotlight the issues in New Orleans.

I would say that the violence in New Orleans is a clear example of the end result of systemic racism expressed in state sanctioned discriminatory practices. The Jena 6 is a clear example of the front end of this problem. Jena-6-like injustice leads to New-Orleans-like injustice.

As I white man, I admit that I do not understand or fit in to the segment of black culture that is most affected by the 40 years of failed integration that you reference. I have met black men and women that say *they* do not understand that segment of “their” people.

But, I also admit that I lack that understanding because I never mix with that disenfranchised group. I – we – live in a segregated society (no shit, right?). It is set up so that I can achieve my objectives and live my privileged life without having to talk to the disenfranchised black community in New Orleans.

That is what I think a march can shed light on. All the questions you asked are valid, and yes, a march will not address or adequately answer those questions. But, dammit, a march that includes the disenfranchised black community of New Orleans would bring the media, would bring Jesse and Al, would force the local tv news and newspapers to go into the black communities and do stories other than the latest murder or shooting.

I am frustrated, man. Frustrated. When I am frustrated, I pace around. I want a march to happen just so I can walk off my frustration. That’s my selfish reason. I won’t feel better about the situation, but at least I would have marched off some frustration.

As a former news photographer, I went to the scenes of many of those murders. I didn’t know the victims, but after seeing dozens of them, I got to know what to expect when I heard a 30s (the police signal for a shooting murder) in certain neighborhoods: a young, black man, lying on the concrete in a pool of his own blood. Then, I started recognizing victims before they were killed. The young black men hanging on the streets looked just like the young black men I would see lying on the streets. I think it affected me more than I would admit.

How could it not?

I don’t think a march by itself accomplishes anything. It is but one moment in a process that requires thousands of moments. But something has got to happen sometime, some way, somehow, by someone.

Anonymous said...

I honestly don't know who or what is to blame. You and M.D. raise some valid complaints. But racism has always been present between blacks and whites. What hasn't always been there is the violence between black people. It wasn't there during slavery. It wasn't there throughout the civil rights movement. During those times, black people knew we only had each other to depend on. It was scary enough trying to survive the KKK alone. But now, after all that our ancestors, great-grandparents, and grandparents have endured, we have to dodge one another. I can't totally lay blame on another race of people because that type of hatred and violence comes from within. When black people recognize that we are our number one and immediate enemy, then we can address social, racial, and economical oppression. When we stand as one in numbers, that makes a huge difference. As a 33 year old black female attorney who is able to stand on her own two feet, I don't think I owe anyone else anything. And I am not so certain that I have to play role model to someone less fortunate. My dad didn't finish high school, and my mother couldn't even read when she finished high school. In fact, she learned how to read when she gave birth to me and my sister. Then she went on to graduate college two years before I graduated college. As a youth, I had my parents emphasizing education to me. Not someone I didn't know. I come from the same poverty as most people. I grew up in a four room fourplex infested with rats, mice, lizards, roaches, and the list goes on. My dad was the only one working which meant we didn't have much money or food. But me, my sister, and every other cousin of mine made it without having to hear a "hero" story from some stranger. If black parents took the time out to be just that, then maybe the streets wouldn't raise or murder our young black men. Patience is a virtue. I didn't get a law degree overnight. My sister didn't become an accountant overnight. My cousin didn't become a nurse overnight. My best friend didn't get in a financial position to buy her first home overnight. Our success came with hard work and diligence. A huge problem with black people is that we feel as though somebody owe us something just because. That is backwards. I owe my parents just because. I owe my grandparents just because. I owe the people who marched to open doors for us just because. I owe the people who endured slavery just because. Once we learn to respect the past, then maybe we can work towards achieving accomplishments for our own children to make things a little easier for them in the future.


Anonymous said...

I certainly have no idea how to improve the world... I'm old enough to know better. In the long run it is each of us taking responsibility for ourselves, our families and our community that makes society work. What can I do today? Probably nothing more than get my house cleaned up, and try to stay out of the way of the rest of the world. But I can help to shine a light on injustice and call evil by it's right name.

The only way that I disagree with what you've written is the extent that you want to place the blame on white men as a class, which is probably historically accurate. But for now, everyman must be accountable for his own actions.

"I Beg God, To Make A Way For Our Ghetto Kids
To Breathe Show A Sign Make Us All Believe"

God has given so many signs. The world never was fair, but God's love enfolds us all.

Anonymous said...

What hasn't always been there is the violence between black people.

What is the instance of black on black crime in cities that aren't primarily black like New Orleans?

Also, something m.d. said that we are a segregated society here. If we were more integrated, would black on black killings decrease? Additionally, is black society truly integrated?