Headed for self-destruction

5/26/2016, 8 a.m.
Since the 1970s, black folks have resolutely refused to organize a national unity movement to promote and protect our cultural, ...

A. Peter Bailey

Since the 1970s, black folks have resolutely refused to organize a national unity movement to promote and protect our cultural, economic, political, educational, health and legal interests in what is still basically a white supremacist/racist country. One of the most significant and very harmful results of our refusal is the too high rate of homicides in too many urban areas throughout the country.

Four points suggest how we can begin to deal with this negative situation:

Point one requires us to diagnose things accurately, which is that the overwhelming majority of the killings involve low-income African-American males killing other low-income African-American males. If they were killing white people of any income or social class at that rate, they would be stopped by the authorities by any means necessary.

If they were killing males from African-American middle- and upper-income families, they would be stopped. If the authorities didn’t stop them, middle- and upper-income black folks would create a way to stop them.

Low-income black males should be told, “You’re being allowed to kill each other and most people in this country don’t give a damn. In fact, most of them probably say ‘good riddance.’ ”

The second point: Those low-income black males should be made aware that by wreaking havoc in their own neighborhoods, they have, for all practical purposes, become allies of those forces out to do us harm. I wouldn’t be surprised that when reading the monthly homicide statistics in places like Chicago, New Orleans and other urban centers, many white people don’t slap fives and have parties celebrating the loss of so many black lives taken by other black people.

Point No. 3: If the injustices of the system play a pivotal role in low-income African-American males killing each other at the rate they are doing, then they should be told to direct their rage at those who control the system or at least look like those who control the system.

Point No. 4: We as a people must do much more than we are doing to guide and nourish our young people. As a group, we have sufficient resources to set up a space where young people can do what young people, especially teenagers, are doing and always will do, which is hanging out. Every major urban neighborhood should/must have a space where youngsters can relax, learn and grow under loving and nurturing adult supervision. Collectively, we have the resources to create such places. What is lacking is the will and the vision. We are now paying a steep price for not having both during the last 40 years.

The space doesn’t have to be lavish — just a safe, comfortable space where young people can socialize, be made cognizant of their worth to the community and taught marketable skills needed to take care of themselves, their families and their neighborhoods.

The writer is an author, lecturer and contributor to the Richmond Free Press.