The African-American community is in crisis. Nothing so illustrates its plight as the carnage that has become the streets of Chicago. That city – where, on average, 12 people are shot daily – is a furious and unfortunate snapshot of black communities across the country. That group, Black Lives Matter, is marching. Individuals like LeBron James and Colin Kaepernick are lending the light of their celebrity to illumine African-America’s dire straits. They mean well, but they deal in platitudes when they rail against guns, drugs, police brutality – the usual suspects – and give a pass to the supreme culprit – ourselves.
Earlier this year, at Henderson State University in Arkansas, the administration banned excessive profanity, loudness, and sagging pants. The black community immediately branded their action “racist” for daring to call out transgressions the black community apparently owns, and feels obliged to defend. That tells us that the insanity driving the destruction of the black community includes presumably sane leaders who shelter the cancer that threatens to devour that community from the inside, out.
It is convenient for minority communities to villianize the police, whom many feel exist for the protection of the majority community from when they come. Certainly, there are bullies and racists among the police, and those rogues must be challenged, asked: “Why are the police so much more likely to ‘shoot to kill’ a black suspect than a white one?” Even so, the police exist on the periphery of our lives, just as does this specter of “black oppression.” And so, what if “black oppression” exists in America? What chance does such watered-down bigotry have against a people who have ascended through centuries of “fierce oppression,” and did it with dignity and resolve? Stop whining, African-America, and start doing a better job of policing yourself.
The devastation being wreaked upon the black community today comes not from drugs, guns, or the police. It is spawned by the most destructive force in civilized society – undisciplined boys who grow to become undisciplined men. They are pandemonium personalized – walking around with their pants down, spewing obscenities, while making babies right and left, and teaching them nothing. These people disrespect their elders, endanger the children, and despoil the very air with their racket. They live by chaos. Chaos make them feel needed; gives them the impression that they are in control. In a way, they are. Decent society fears chaos. Each time these brigands pique our fears, they tweak their control over our lives.
Today, Americans are armed to the teeth – 300 million guns in the hands of the public; 40% of all the public-held guns on Earth. We are armed out of fear – not fear of ISIS or Al Quaeda, but fear of young, black men.
I was born in ’52, and cut my teeth on the detritus of “Jim Crow.” We knew segregation, sit-in, race riots. We marched into the breach created by black men and black women who marched before us. We fought and bled and died. We won. History books call it the “Civil Rights Era.” I call it “African-American’s finest moment”, or simply, “The Struggle.”
Perhaps today’s young people long for such a struggle - one that will define their moment in American history. I respect that they care. I trust that, they, too, have courage. But their message loses its resonance when many of the people they march for, they should be marching against.
We fought for black women forced to give up their seats so that white men could sit down. We fought for black men lynched for speaking to white women. We fought for four black kills killed in the bombing of a Birmingham, Alabama church. Today’s activities fight for the likes of Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, and Dequann Jackson – hoodlums, bullies, habitual offenders, tramplers of the rights of the defenseless in their own neighborhoods. We won the civil rights struggle of the 50’s and the 60’s, not because we were brave, but because we were right. When today’s activities line up to champion the lives of people who defile their own communities, they are not right, and no one will win.