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Part 1 of 2
Black on Black violence is the ultimate decadent manifestation of self-hate, spawned and nurtured by a racist society. Inner-city Black communities express outrage over exceptionally brutal or sensational violence-especially when the victims are very young. (The killing of 13-year-old Devin Brown by an LAPD officer three years ago is a prime example.) However, in general, violence has become a terrible repugnant norm bolstered by seeming indifference, even of those directly victimized by its tentacles.
One of the most poignant and disturbing indicators of violence’s pernicious fallout is the steely nonchalance of far too many Black children and young adults towards the pain and suffering of others The wrenching phenomenon of kids staring, virtually without emotion or apparent concern, at someone wounded or killed in their neighborhood is almost impossible to describe. Many of these youngsters later help to perpetuate a culture that effectively snuffs out even the likelihood of caring or hope.
The antecedents of Black on Black violence are well known, yet there is tendency to deny or minimize slavery’s devastating legacy, blurring its continuing impact on the Black population. Racism and psycho-social conditioning go hand-in-hand and constitute the genesis of self-hate, especially evident in poor young Black males. There is still broad denial, among the Black middle-class in particular, of the continuing significance of the Willie Lynch syndrome. This impedes over all progress and helps to reinforce Black-on-Black violence.
America has always embraced materialism and individualism as integral components of its racism. Neither non-White group civility nor Blacks- as equals, were ever a factor in America’s social or political agendas. Barriers to changing Blacks’ self-destructive mind-sets and behavior are legion and the following examples are hardly exhaustive.
Expanding on earlier points: Having internalized America’s values, many Blacks are reluctant to challenge the powers that be because doing so is tantamount to challenging themselves. Hence, Blacks’ ambivalence and defensiveness about ridding themselves of systemically ordained second-class citizenship.
Other manifestations of the “less than White” syndrome include previously mentioned self-hate/low self-esteem and a callous disregard for others rights and humanity; inability and/or unwillingness to contest oppressive conditions and/or the oppressor; violent crime; Black students “dysfunctional” behavior; public policy that codifies injustice and inequality based on race and class; Black leadership that operates within an individualistic, self-serving paradigm; public education that denigrates rather embrace poor Black children, in particular; and the chasm between the Black middle-class and poorer Blacks that has become a major obstacle in the continuing struggle for justice.
This is somewhat ironic since most people, including the Black middle-class, know (intellectually) that in America, race matters. But apparently, fearing losing their material gains, the middle-class steadfastly acts as though major political and economic barriers no longer exist and have effectively removed themselves from the civil (and human) rights struggle. They shouldn’t need to be reminded that neither inadequate income nor shades of Black have ever been of any concern to this country.
Is Black on Black violence insolvable? In an absolute sense it is, but reducing the incidence of violence among Blacks is not only possible, but imperative.
New, alternative strategies must include partnerships among and between local communities, parents, schools, law-enforcement, government agencies and most important, Black leaders, in other words the total community. Common ground has to be clearly defined and accountability built into all community building efforts.
Parents and surrounding communities need sound information, education and decision-making authority in order to participate as equals on important concerns. New leadership models should also include reassessing values and strategies with a strong emphasis on youth leadership development consistent with the goals and objectives of the respective community groups.
Inferior health services have an indirect but significant bearing on Black on Black violence and lessons should have been learned from Martin Luther King Hospital’s tragic demise. However, there is little indication and no assurance that Black leadership or the surrounding community is advocating substantively different approaches for reopening King Hospital.
Black on Black violence is the culmination of sustained oppression and prolonged hopelessness among the Black population. This has been reinforced by anger and distrust manifested by sporadic community outrage but more often by crippling indifference. Altering the reality of Black on Black violence requires new thinking, behavior and collaboration within Black communities designed to create a new reality that unapologetically benefits the Black population.
Larry Aubry n can be contacted at e-mail