Black on Black Violence PDF Print E-mail

Black On Black Violence On the Rise

San Francisco Bay View, Commentary, Larry P. Mitchell, Posted: Jan 16, 2004

Chuck, D. Tucker, LeRon J, D-Lou, Sycho D, Peter Lee, Bumper, Artie D, D. Posey, Rodney L, Eight Eight, P. Holms, Chicago, T. Tucker, Laurence C, Anthony M, D. Williams, Slick Rick, Charlie Brown, Fat Rat, Ready Rob, Cheap Charlie, Ralph B, Dame, Mr. C, Prince Larry B, Young Life, Hitman, K.B., Lil’ Smurf, Pokey, Fish, Daryl S, K.Y., Keetawayn, Greg M, Perry B and many, many more … You’re missed … Rest in peace.

The names above are not those of soldiers killed in President Bush’s “invasion-for-profit” campaign in Iraq. The names above are those who were friends, bothers, fathers, nephews, sons and cousins of the Black community – and cats a lot of us were familiar with just seeing around the way.

They all have two very unfortunate things in common: they are no longer with us, and their deaths came about by means of other Black men.

The problem of hood violence has been a very unwelcome nemesis of the Black communities throughout the United States for many years. It is disheartening that the list above is not even a third of the Brothas from Frisco alone who have been gunned down by other Brothas over the years.

Every Black community in this country has its own casualty list due to Black-on-Black tragedies. The above names are Brothas I knew, from casual acquaintanceships to lifelong friends and relatives.

Many from outside and within Black communities have tried to define the causes of hood violence: bad economy, lack of jobs, not enough educational and recreational venues. Some theorists blame rap music or see hood violence as biblical prophecy that we’re living in the last days.

Although many of these do contribute to the crisis of violence in the hood, a lot of us remember how rarely it used to occur. Back then, when Brothas had “beef,” we knuckled up, boxed, and it was over. Win, lose or draw.

So we ask in soliloquy, “What happened?”

Although it seems broad, I think the clearest answer is that Black-on-Black violence is a symptom of oppression. The best analysis of oppression, in my opinion, is the world-renowned book The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon. The book is about the North African Algerian revolution in the mid-1950s, which Fanon himself witnessed.

In his literary masterpiece, Fanon demonstrates how people react to oppression and repression. He explains that colonized people internalize the ideas and perspectives of the colonizer, resulting in the oppressed people evaluating themselves through the eyes of the oppressor, subsequently leading to internal sanguinary violence among the oppressed class.

In retrospect, before I was captured and thrown in a cage, I can recall the days when my attitude – which appeared to be the axiom amongst hustlers – was that it was better to be caught with a strap (gun) than without one. The word “caught” was not an indication of being caught by the police, but caught by another brotha out to do me some harm – real or imagined – for one of several reasons: because of the hood I was from or not from, to relieve me of personal property, or because of failed communication based on a lack of understanding, which most cats refer to as disrespect.

The reality – despite how dysfunctional – is that too many Black men, under the umbrella of oppression, tend to view each other as the enemy and view only the police as the problem.

I clearly remember how we witnessed the police plant false evidence, inflict brutality and continuously violate our rights. But when they pulled up in the neighborhood, we avoided them and oftentimes broke (ran). And yet on the flip side, when Brothas from a different hood showed up, straps were pulled out and they were confronted.

Fanon breaks the pattern down in the first chapter:

“Where individuals are concerned, a positive negation of common sense is evident. While the settler (oppressor) or the policeman has the right the live-long day to strike the native (members of the Black community) to insult him and to make him crawl to them, you will see the native reaching for his knife (gun) at the slightest hostile or aggressive glance cast on him by another native; for the last resort of the native is to defend his personality vis-à-vis his Brother.”

This happens nearly every day in our neighborhoods.

Fanon says that in dealing with the enforcing policies of oppression, the oppressed find themselves in a state of perpetual tension. This state produces feuds among individuals, what he calls “collective auto-destruction.” A misplaced rage caused by not confronting the real obstacle to liberation: oppression.

Black-on-Black violence creates a dynamic that reinforces the brutality inflicted upon members of the community by the police, who often view everyone as a potential killer or threat, so we are all deemed suspect. It further reinforces the already skewed perspective that we don’t get along with one another, and in order to maintain social order the police must occupy the Black community with force as if to say, if we don’t get along with each other and submit to their occupation, they will force us.

We have to realize how Black-on-Black violence subjects the entire community to a perpetual vulnerability. Black-on-Black violence has been used through political and media prevarication as the need for a larger police presence in the Black villages. This fosters more police brutality, murder by police, and a higher imprisonment rate, factors that inhibit community development.

Black-on-Black violence is the most commonly used reason many community members aspire to get out of the Black community, resulting in the best and brightest of our members abandoning the Black village, never to return.

Black-on-Black violence has not only been used to drive down the value of the Black community, but drive down the value of our collective morality and integrity as a people, resulting in us disrespecting each other more readily. In turn, that disrespect, being exploited via entertainment, feeds right back into violence.

Black community organizations must realize that exclusivity is the platform to divide and conquer. Also, the pulpit has to be put in practice not only preaching to the already saved members. We can’t ignore the erected shrines for young Brothas who have been gunned down that we see on our way to church.

Metaphorically, there is a storm coming, and in order for Black folk to survive that storm, we have to come together.

For those who are out there turning corners, deep in the Game, pacing the streets, I know you know about the voice deep down within, haunting you to get out the Game. Take heed to it, because no matter how good you play, a penalty box awaits you in the form of a cell or a casket.

So upon the New Year, pump your brakes, put down the strap, and pick up a book and learn. Your people need you alive and free.