Across the nation, people are marching protesting police shootings of suspects, some of them unarmed, running away, or handcuffed. The protests, originally designed to make statements of anger and frustration over the abuse of force of some police officers against Blacks, have degenerated into violent, near-riots, and protests against the United States Government itself. In Monroe, hundreds of Blacks have died in the last decade, killed not by police officers, but by other Black people. That mirrors what is happening around the nation. For example, 2016 FBI statistics report that 90% of Black people killed were killed by other Black people and 14.8% of white people killed were killed by Black people. We are killing each other mercilessly.
And there are not marches of thousands of people angry or frustrated over our plight.
When do we, as a people, protest what is happening in nearly every Black community in the nation? Even locally, there have been several “protests” staged locally when a white police officer abused a homeless man. However, even while those protests were unfolding Blacks in our city were shooting and killing each other.
There were no protests.
Protests, in general, are acts of civil disobedience designed to draw attention to an injustice. Those who protest do so at a sacrifice and are willing to face jail and prosecution to make their point.
There have been no protests in our community that focus on Black on Black crime. A recent NAACP protest included statements about murders of Blacks in Ouachita parish that reach back as far as 15 years ago, but what was missing from the protest was any “anger” or frustration about the hundreds of Blacks that have been arrested and charged with murder and attempted murder of other Black people in the same time period.
It seems that Black lives only matter when the life is taken by a white police officer. If we kill each other, that’s a head shaking moment, but nothing that rises to the level of rage and anger. When we hear about murders and attempted murders in our community our response in no way matches the anger we demonstrate when whites kill blacks.
This is a strange phenomenon. It’s like our in-house acceptance of the term “Nigga” which is acceptable when spoken by one black person to another, but it is unacceptable and even called racist when the same word, in the same context, is spoken by someone outside of our race.
Does that practice extend to murders as well. Is it OK for Blacks to kill each other, but if each of the blacks killed by other blacks were killed by whites, would we be marching and protesting that “Black Lives Matter?”
A few years ago, we traveled through a city in Tennesee and saw a morbid reminder of the lives lost by Black on Black crime. The community, in a silent demonstration of its outrage at black murders set up a mock cemetery on a vacant lot on a Main Street. The cemetery had a white cross that bore the names of every Black man in their community that had been killed by another black man. After each Black on Black Death, they march to the cemetery and post another cross.
The sea of crosses painted a morbid picture, but it said “Black Lives Matter” especially those lost as a result on Black on Black crime. To daily pass that morbid scene, helped remind the community that the biggest murderers of Black people are Black People.
We think white police officers who abuse citizens should be prosecuted. However, we also think that those who lead protests against police abuses, must not restrict their protests to those that involve white perpetrators, but they must “protest” the problem we have in our own community.
That city in Tennessee found a way to make a statement.
If Black lives truly matter, we should do the same.