For the past several years, much ado has been made over statistics that show the overwhelming majority of crimes committed upon Black people are committed by Black people themselves. To that I say, so what? That’s not the problem! The same sources of those statistics will reveal that the overwhelming majority of crimes committed upon White people are committed by White people. The same applies to Hispanics, Asians and virtually every other ethnic group. So it’s not about Black people not having respect for one another.
The problem that results in “Black on Black Crime” is that we still live in a segregated America, for the most part. Most crimes are relatively spontaneous, particularly murder. That means that crimes are committed by persons whose places of residence, employment and recreation are generally in proximity to the victims. If Black people then, live in the same communities (and we do for the most part), the crimes against person and property that Blacks commit will most often be committed against other Blacks.
Now, we could debate the merits or problems associated with segregated communities until we’re blue in the face but that’s another issue. If you’ll look back at my earlier statement, we said the problem that “results” in Black on Black crime is segregated communities. Segregated communities is not “the” problem — an erosion of values is the problem. Black people who steal, rob and kill do so because of an erosion of values. The same is the reason for Whites, Asians and Hispanics who are guilty of these offenses.
Rather that “hating on ourselves and concluding that “something must be wrong with us,” let’s get about the business of addressing the root causes of crime — and please don’t blame it all on poverty and/or racism. The country is full of poor, discriminated against Black people who’ve never committed a crime and never will.
Now, all this having been said, the fact that White people kill White people and that Hispanics kill Hispanics, or that Asians kill Asians is no justification for anyone robbing, raping, harming, or killing anyone. If, in segregated America, we want safe and peaceful communities we have to (from within our communities) insist upon that safety and peace. Greater police presence and sure and consistent application of justice for breachers of the peace are certainly deterrents. Internal preventive initiatives to crime, however, are the measures that will bring about and maintain peace and tranquility within our neighborhoods. Crime, when it occurs, should be a departure from the norm — not the norm itself.
Get to know your neighbors. Share your interests with them and develop an understanding of their interests. Begin community projects to improve the quality of life in your neighborhood and be sure to involve the children. Don’t spend more time doing things “for” children than “with” them. Then we must set positive examples for our children. Children who grow up in households where conflict is resolved through violence will typically resort to the same tactic to resolve conflict situations they face.
Rather than allowing our young people to develop the attitude that education is not important, we should constantly point to examples where success has only been made possible through academic pursuit. We should make sure our young people understand, for example, that of the millions of kids playing high school basketball in America today, only about 500 of them will ever make it to the NBA. For those few who make it, their hard work and commitment pays wonderful rewards but for the rest? Without a decent education, they’ll likely wind up being some of the tallest busboys in town.
(Webb is a noted journalist and an internationally recognized scholar and lecturer on the subject of African American history, genealogy and socio-economic affairs.)