Part 2 of 2
Black on Black violence diminishes human life but increasingly, is more likely to occur in inner-city neighborhoods. Pervasive violence exists with muted outcry from both the victims and so-called powers that be. Why the deafening silence? Answers are elusive but rooted in poverty, frustration and anger—anchored in racism. Yet the passive acceptance of violence by far too many Blacks themselves reinforces the denigrating reality.
White conservatives reportedly coined the term Black-on-Black violence with the intent to demean and scandalize Blacks. (Black-on-Black violence is an onerous subset of America’s history, a history rife with violence and greed.) Conservatives’ construct of Black-on-Black violence was calculated to devalue Black life with proclamations such as: “Blacks are not trying hard enough to extricate themselves from destitute circumstances...Some escaped to suburbia; for those left behind, inner city life is expendable.”
Conservatives prognosticated that Blacks would die in record numbers and claimed that their “propensity” for violence was “a symptom with the potential for ravaging mainstream life.” They also predicted Blacks would become the menace conservatives were telling the public to fear. And they further claimed that Black violence resulted from a pathological culture, predatory youth and socially disorganized inner cities. In short, to them, Black life is culturally and morally deformed. Two major themes ran through the conservatives’ credo: Black youth were culturally afflicted and the Black family nurtures this affliction.
Explanations of the cause of Black-on-Black violence abound and likely include all of the following: poverty, dysfunctional families, absence of positive role models, lack of political will, weak Black leadership, failure of public education and a breakdown in moral and ethical standards. Black-on-Black violence is destabilizing communities and it is critically important for everyone to recognize the interrelatedness of factors that contribute to both its perpetuation and elimination. Blacks feel whites are largely indifferent, and they are, but Blacks themselves, middle class Blacks especially, contribute to the problem by not actively seeking solutions.
Bob Herbert, a Black columnist for the New York Times, “If White people were doing to Black people what Black people are doing to Black people, there would be rioting from coast to coast.” However, the real enigma is that White people continue to control and oppress Blacks with hardly a whimper from the victim- perpetrator Blacks themselves.
Nationally, Blacks are many times more likely to be murdered, and according to the U.S. Justice Department, ninety-four percent of Black murder victims are killed by Blacks. Overwhelmingly, residents of high crime communities are law-abiding but indiscriminately victimized. Economists point out the obviously destabilizing effect Black-on-Black violence has on communities: Many who can leave, do so, businesses go elsewhere, and neighborhoods deteriorate.
Psychological factors are also important. For example, Blacks’ level of vindictiveness against each other appears greater than it is against Whites. And one of the most insidious of slavery’s legacies is self-hate—the internalization of subservience covered by a thin bravado masking underlying insecurity and shame. This is extremely important because ultimately, personal change comes from within.
There are widespread misconceptions: Many, including Blacks, refer to Blacks and others of color in the U.S. as “racists.” This is incorrect. Racism by definition, includes the power one group has to control others based on color or ethnicity. It is virtually impossible for Blacks and other people of color to be racist since they lack the power to control others, based on race or ethnicity. Prejudice and bigotry exist in all populations, but should not be confused with racism.
Racism notwithstanding, Black-on-Black violence reflects a pervasive absence of leadership and moral standards. The ever-widening chasm between middle (and ‘upper”) class and poorer Blacks has a direct bearing on efforts to solve the problem because it removes a significant group from battle for justice.
As mentioned earlier, Black-on-Black violence is a subset of societal violence (blatantly manifested by the US invasion of Iraq), public education’s failure to educate Black children, and ubiquitous police brutality (despite reform efforts) sealing continuation of the “us versus them” mindset.
Strategies to reduce Black-on-Black violence have not worked even though many groups have received token funding (corporate or government) to alleviate it but were predictably co-opted by the constraints of the grants and/or inadequate funds.
Black-on Black violence is researched ad nauseam but even sound corrective strategies cannot succeed without requisite political will. Therefore, Blacks must relentlessly pressure decision makers—Black and otherwise—to exhibit such will, while they assume responsibility themselves, for reducing the fratricide that has literally become the despicable killing norm in many neighborhoods.
Larry Aubry n can be contacted at e-mail