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Black on Black Violence Now a Horrific Norm
Despite citing a reduction of overall crime, the Los Angeles Police Department recently formed a task force to combat a significant spike in homicides, especially in South Central Los Angeles. Unfortunately, for those who live in the affected areas increased killings are no surprise.Black on Black homicide has become a horrific norm: Contrary to a prevailing myth in some quarters,the leading cause of violent deaths for Blacks in the inner city is other Blacks, not Latinos or law enforcement.
Black on Black violent is the ultimate manifestation of self hate, spawned and nurtured by a racist society and fueled by the silence of the very communities it devastates. One of the most poignant and disturbing indicators of violence's terrible impact is a surface nonchalance of many Black youth towards pain and suffering. The wrenching phenomenon of kids starring, seemingly untouched, at someone wounded or killed is more an indictment of the environment than their apparent indifference.
The antecedents of Black on Black violence are well known but routinely minimized; there is a tendency to deny slavery's crippling legacy, thereby blurring its continuing effects. Racism and psycho-social conditioning go hand in hand and constitute the genesis of anger and self-hate, so evident in young Black males.Today, middle class Blacks' absence also contributes to Black on Black violence because so many no longer identify with their poorer brethren who remain under constant siege.
Barriers to changing Blacks' self-destructive mind-sets and behavior are legion; the following observations only scratch the surface:
Having internalized America's values, many Blacks are reluctant to challenge the powers that be because doing so, for them, is tantamount to challenging themselves.Hence, Blacks' ambivalence about ridding themselves of systemically ordained second-class citizenship. A range of manifestations of the "less than white" syndrome include, self-hate, low esteem, inability and/or unwillingness to contest oppressive conditions, violence, dysfunctional behavior and public policy that codifies injustice and inequality based on race and class.Also, Black leadership that operates within an individualistic, self-serving paradigm, public education that denigrates rather than embraces poor Black children and the previously mentioned chasm between the Black middle-class and poorer Blacks that has become a major obstacle to full group progress.
Ironically, most Blacks, including the middle-class realize, intellectually, that in America, race still matters. However, apparently fearing loss of material gains, the middle-class, especially, steadfastly acts as though political and economic barriers no longer exist and they have effectively removed themselves from the civil rights struggle.(We are reminded that neither income levels nor shades of Black have ever been of any real concern to white America.)
Is Black on Black violence insolvable?Human violence will always exist, but reducing the incidence of violence among Blacks is not only possible, it is imperative.New, alternative strategies should include partnerships among and between local communities, parents, schools, law enforcement, government agencies and Black leaders, i.e., the total community.Common ground must be clearly defined and accountability made a part of any and all efforts to build unity.
Parents and surrounding school communities need sound information and decision-making authority in order to participate as equals on important concerns.(For example, parents of students most in need have neither the expertise nor resources to successfully compete to operate 50 new and 200 low performing schools identified in LAUSD's recently approved Public School Choice Initiative. Therefore, their children really are not a part of LAUSD's seminal effort at reform.) New leadership models must include a reassessment of values and strategies with a strong emphasis on youth leadership development consistent with the goals and objectives of respective community groups.
Inferior health services also have a significant bearing on Black on Black violence andhopefully, lessons were learned from the tragic demise of Martin Luther King Hospital-Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas' top priority is reopening the hospital as a high quality, full-service facility.Complex pieces must fall into place so that the hospital's immediate service area, among the poorest in the nation, will receive the first-rate health care services it needs and deserves.
Black on Black violence is the culmination of sustained oppression and prolonged hopelessness. It continues to be manifested through anger and distrust manifested by sporadic outrage, but more significantly, by the crippling indifference on the part of the most Blacks themselves. Current efforts to stem Black on Black violence are woefully inadequate, starting with ineffective, uncaring leadership.
Altering Black on Black violence requires new thinking, behavior, and collaboration within and among Black communities, designed to create a new reality that unapologetically addresses the needs and concerns of the nation's Black population.
Larry Aubry can be contacted at e-mail