For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard the term ‘black-on-black crime’ or ‘black-on-black violence’ addressed often in conversations dealing with how to stop violence in black neighborhoods. For those not in the know, black-on-black crime refers to any incident, usually violent, where a black person is assaulted or killed by another black person. Sounds straightforward and accurate, but is terribly racist, even if it’s used with the best intentions.
There’s no doubt that in a violence obsessed, gun crazy nation such as the United States, black people do commit crimes against each other. (I don’t want to get into debate about rates and frequencies.) But so do all other groups. Yet, we get the distinction of being the worst…as usual.
So, here we go again, trending all over the news on latest kick called the knockout games. According to reports, most of the youth involved are black. Also, most of the victims are black. Not too many white victims. Although, in this society, one or a few white victims of black crimes constitute as black-on-white racism. And then, there’s a push to punish us negroes to make sure the nonexistent tables are turned.
Black crime in general, particularly of the violent varieties, seem to become threatening and epidemic in the mainstream. When watching local or national news, one would think that it’s reached record highs. However, recent data suggests the opposite. Violent crime, including in black communities, is going down. Black youth crime is dropping, and crime overall is intraracial.
And yet, black crime is somehow worse. People associate blackness with criminality. Even the most liberal of people make the connection without even knowing it (or admitting it).
Black-on-black crime is a racist misnomer used in three distinct ways: The first is mentioned by well-meaning people, including blacks themselves, who see it as a continuous and widespread crisis. Many of them honestly see it as a tragedy that not only is it happening, but that America allows it to happen. And they go out and try to do what they can to prevent more crime and violence.
Then, there’s the other usage, by the uppity, uninformed and unwilling to do any heavy lifting. To make matters worse, they use it to taper any prominent instance where racism was a factor in affecting the lives of blacks significantly and tragically.
When Trayvon Martin was killed, masses of people were upset, and rightfully so for numerous reasons. His killer George Zimmerman didn’t get arrested for a while. He killed him because of what he chose to see in him, a thug. And media outlets tried their damnest to paint Martin as the very thing Zimmerman thought he was, just another young black male thug up to no good.
Yet, those on the right felt the need to tell the masses to quit crying and get mad where it really counts. The number one issue they wanted people to truly focused on was – you guessed it – black-on-black crime. Funny. Black-on-black crime was never too much of their concern to begin with.
The third and most insidious use of ‘black-on-black crime’ is to justify further oppression. It’s to apply another trait of failure that comes with black skin in the minds of white racists. It’s processed and distributed from the mainstream to society prompting excuses for more prisons, more cops, more surveillance in black communities and more policies like stop-and-frisk.
At the same time, it diverts much needed attention to real structural factors that play important roles to the suffering such as systematic economic and political neglect and inadequacy originated outside struggling black neighborhoods. Emotional and psychological causes are hardly up for discussion. Avoiding such considerations will not only limit or censor urgent conversations and actions, but will strengthen the myth of black pathology as being a natural defect.
The myth of black criminals is nothing new. When the war on drugs began, there was a myth of the violent, drug dealing, young black male lurking in inner city streets, largely responsible for the nation’s illegal drug problem during the 1980’s. There was the superpredator scare of the early 1990’s proposed by Princeton professor John Dilulio. Two years ago, there were reports of flash mob violence in a few cities across the nation. Most of the perpetrators were young blacks, some of the victims were nonblack. And now in 2013, the name of the game is all about a few incidents of youth knocking people out.
Look people, nowhere has there ever been denial that there are black criminals who target black people, or people in general. It would be stupid to say so, because crime is a part of every society and everyone is capable of being a criminal, even a violent one. Yet, while so many people are obsessed with blacks and crime as if we had some kind of gangster gene, they fail to understand that – again – most crime is intraracial.
So, for the racist white separatists out there preaching to the choir of the black apocalypse coming to destroy white civilizations, keep worrying while your white male buddy is out there beating his wife, while a 45 year-old white woman is hitting on a high school junior who bares a striking resemblance to Brad Pitt, and while a white youth plots another mass murder.