I’ve been thinking about violence a lot lately.
June just began, and we’ve already surpassed 100 homicides.
I’m fearful the numbers will continue to climb as warm weather usually brings more people out and about, which leads to more opportunities for altercations. Those altercations often turn deadly. Fast.
I’m especially worried about teens and young adults — the demographic that’s often involved in homicides. More specifically, I’m worried about Black teens and young adults, specifically Black males. We’re losing a lot of our young Black men and women over petty beefs. The issues that get one all riled up in their teens and 20s often mean nothing 20 or 30 years later. I’ve had friends killed in their late teens and early 20s. I saw how it devastated their families and our community. The big issue back then is ridiculously minute today.
We march for peace, hold vigils and prayer circles for peace in our city, but violence continues. Why? What can we do to stop the violence?
When I was growing up, rap music and video games were blamed. More recently, Grand Theft Auto bore the brunt of the blame. We continue to perpetuate the belief that Black people, particularly Black men, are savage and violent; that murdering each other is in their nature. We point to statistics to substantiate this claim.
However, we don’t seem to look at society in its entirety. We don’t seem to look at how violent America is and has been since the very beginning. We don’t look at how capitalism — our obsession with materialism — contributes to the violence that exists in our society.
I know I don’t have the answers when it comes to how to stop violence in our city, but it’s evident what we’re doing isn’t solving the problem. And let’s face it, we may never wipe out violence completely. You can’t control or predict the actions of others — unless we make “Minority Report” a reality.
As I think about the violence we continue to experience, though, I can’t help but wonder what the root causes are. If you are honest about America, you know this country is obsessed with violence. We love to see the good guy take down the bad guy, and that usually happens through violence. It’s in our language, our movies, our TV shows, our cartoons, our music, everywhere.
War is a necessary evil. We must go to war to protect our interests. Talking and diplomacy is for the weak. Even in our personal lives, we must fight, shoot, stab or do whatever it takes to defend ourselves and our property.
It seems to me in a country where violence is celebrated, there will be violence. We seem to want it both ways. We want to glorify violence, but then tell people violence isn’t acceptable. We say some people are susceptible to negative influences but then continue to create violent products. We don’t want restrictions on guns. We want the ability to buy as many guns as we want as easily as possible.
Well, there are consequences. As the old saying goes, “you reap what you sow.” We continuously sow seeds of violence, and we reap more violence. And it’s not just Black males. There’s a long history in this country of portraying Black men as dangerous savages. The idea of “Black-on-Black” crime was just a new spin on an old story. Black people are no more violent than any other group of people. Poverty and proximity play a huge role in the violent deaths of Black men and women.
For all of the attention Black crime receives —and we should do all we can to stop it — we spend very little time focusing on how to stop white men from committing mass murders. We spend a few days, weeks on the latest mass murder and then it’s on to the next one as if this isn’t some type of phenomenon that deserves the same attention Black males receive.
Why don’t we examine our culture of violence for a change to see how much that plays a role in the violence in our society. I refuse to assign violence to Black men only when our entire culture is violent.