Black-on-Black Crime: The Problem Starts and Stops at Home
by Jimmie L. Hollis
Black-on-black crime is tragic in more ways than one.
The terror felt by a black crime victim is stressful and degrading enough. Knowing that the violence came from the hands of a black thug only adds insult to injury.
Such crimes occur almost daily in black communities across our nation. Criminals rove our neighborhoods like wild dogs, causing women and children to barricade themselves inside their homes.
Contrary to popular belief, racism is not the main cause of black-on-black crime. I grew up ten miles outside East Saint Louis, Illinois during the late 50s and early 60s. It was a proud middle-class city where white and black professionals lived as neighbors. By the end of the 70s, all the white residents had moved out. So did many black families. Those who could not afford to move saw their city quickly overtaken by thugs, criminals, dope addicts, prostitutes and gangs - most of whom were black.
Residents soon found themselves trapped in a hell that caused them to fear even going out to the store. This wasn't fear caused by the Ku Klux Klan, but by blacks preying on their own.
Between 1970 and 1990, I occasionally visited relatives in the East St. Louis area. I was saddened to see that even the churches there had become targets of crime and disrespect by black hoodlums. Two of my childhood friends are ministers in the area and they often tell me of the awful crimes perpetrated by blacks thugs in that city.
Racism didn't cause the evil attitudes, broken families, high rates of out-of-wedlock births, child abuse and abortions that plague black communities. The cause is a lack of moral foundation, ignorance, apathy, selfishness and greed. Yet, time and time again, we hear our so-called leaders repeating the age-old lie that these black problems stem from white racism. While some problems do have racist origins, black-on-black crime isn't one of these problems.
What can be done to fight the scourge of black-on-black crime? The first realization we must face is that it is our problem. Others can help, but we must do the heavy lifting. Furthermore, we must not blame our problems on whites.
We must change our attitudes towards law enforcement to start working with these agencies and not against them. We must not glorify drug use and paint violent criminals as "heroes of the 'hood" just because they are black. The same black "heroes" praised in rap songs would not hesitate to murder black seniors to get a few dollars for drugs.
Naturally, there are serious risks involved because the criminal element won't go away without a fight. Case in point: on February 18, 2003, NPR's "All Things Considered" highlighted the brutal crime that occurred in Baltimore in October of 2002. When Angela Maria Dawson tried to do something about drug crime in her neighborhood, black thugs set her home on fire in the middle of the night. Dawson and her family perished in the flames. No doubt black predators are ruthless and heartless because killing women and children means nothing to them.
It will take courage and a willingness to suffer retaliation if we are to meet this evil head on. But what is the alternative?
This task will take time, hard work, involve risks and require a persistent grassroots movement but I believe it can be done. It starts in the home. These bad actors didn't just appear out of nowhere. They're somebody's children.
It is also of great importance that black men do not abdicate this task. Crying and wailing every time a black child is murdered by a black thug avails us nothing. We must act.
I strongly believe that, one day, we will be held accountable for the actions or lack thereof for protecting our children, wives, mothers, sisters and seniors. No excuses will be accepted.
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Jimmie L. Hollis is a freelance writer and National Advisory Council member of the black leadership network Project 21. Comments may be sent to Project21@nationalcenter.org.
Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints
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