Black folk are not monolithic. I know that there are some in America who believe we are. But we didn’t all agree in Africa before we were sold into slavery. We didn’t all agree while in the state of slavery. We didn’t all agree upon emancipation. We didn’t all agree during Jim Crow, during the civil rights movement, even about having civil rights. Like any other group of humans, our views differ from liberal, conservative, ambivalent, apathetic. We are engaged, passionate and absent. And just as we don’t agree about who is the best MC, the best basketball player of all time, or whether peanut butter is better than chocolate, we don’t all view the Black Lives Matter movement as it relates to police brutality, systematic racism and so called Black on Black crime within our neighborhoods.
Locally speaking, since Michael Brown, many of my friends have been on the forefront of protest, civil disobedience or spreading the word via social media regarding police brutality as it relates to the St. Louis Metropolitan area. They have fought hard through the midst of resistance from many of their White counterparts, White police unions, and administrations resistant to give up the power of their privilege. Equally true is that St. Louis is enduring a sickening amount of shootings and murders this year. There are many reasoning and debates for the escalations of violent crimes, from lack of policing in certain North Side areas, to a mindset among Black youth that they just don’t give a damn about taking a life. As mentioned in the first sentence, we don’t share all of the same views, therefore we don’t share the same passions. But unfortunately, instead of respecting one another’s passions for a common goal of bettering the community as best as we can, some of us are at odds in direct conflict against the other. Specifically, some who are righteously frustrated with the crime being committed against one another, are upset at protesters of police brutality and Black Lives Matter. The video below from Ferguson resident Peggy Hubbard is an example.
Hubbard isn’t the only one who has expressed these sentiments. Many of my African-American friends on social media have asked after a murder, “Where are all the protesters now? Why aren’t they protesting or holding a rally for this?” These are similar to some of my White counterparts who refuse to acknowledge or even justify their lack of interest and subsequent support of police brutality because there are Black criminals; as if there aren’t criminals within their own group. The difference is that White folk generally aren’t shot, chocked, tased, or mysteriously found dead while in police custody. I’ve had those conversations with my White friends. I’ve explained to them, that there are differences in community concern about criminal behavior vs state sponsored oppression and brutality. My neighbor is a citizen, my police, prosecutors and judges are compensated with tax dollars that I participate in contributing towards. These have taken an oath to protect and serve righteously for all of it’s citizens. Contrary to popular belief, we can actually care about both equally. Not to mention if there is a murder or a robbery in my neighborhood, more times than not we are looking to those same police to solve those crimes and remove those criminals from among us. Some of us believe these crimes aren’t as vigorously investigated in our neighborhoods as they would in a White neighborhood; thus the cycle continues.
What is missed however, is that there are and have been activities standing up for victims of violent crimes. They may not be as prevalent or publicly covered as those against police brutality. But they are there.
Thus my message isn’t to my White counterparts who are anti-Black Lives Matter or anti-police brutality against people of color; though they can get some too if they like. But specifically to those who like Ms. Hubbard, single mother with a son who is incarcerated, to my Black friends who poo poo the folk fighting the system of government oppression because they think these protesters should protest all things Black struggle, is get off your asses and do it yourself! If there aren’t enough black protest and rallies against crime in your view, then dammit start one. Gather like minded individuals, organize and get your asses out in these streets. Why be in conflict with your brothers and sisters who are fighting for your right to be equally valued lawfully in the system in which we all rely to a certain extent. If I am in danger and I can’t solve the issue, I’m calling the police. I have police who are good friends of mine. But that prevent me from having a passion against police who are out to kill me. There is no conflict for me to love my police friends while jamming Fuck The Police in my ride simultaneously. It seems to me that the folk who DO have the problem are sitting at their computers or making videos or posting empty challenges to folk who are doing something, because they aren’t doing a damn thing.
I have given three examples of people who are making a difference in partaking in efforts that are related to our community, though not the same exact focus. Hell I’ll throw in a fourth just for good measure.
The point is, even if you are not a good organizer, there are some people doing some things in the area of crime in Black neighborhoods. Join them. It’s just plain ignorant and unproductive to ask those who are focused on police brutality to do your damn passion too. Get off the sidelines, and do something and make us all stronger. If not, then by all means stay in your lane and STFU!