Tag Archives: Black on Black crime

Love’s Gonna Getcha’ (A History of Violence)

There are a million different ways to say “I love you”. As a male, even if whispered from the softest of lips from the one who holds us in the highest regards, the premise still seems unfathomable; it makes us uneasy. It doesn’t always come in the form of physical contact; it’s frequently delivered in subtle methods such as, “Put on your seatbelt.”; “Watch your step.”; “Did you eat?” or “Get some rest.” So as a man, imagine how uncomfortable it is when one of your brethren conveys that sentiment in any form. The slightest expression of emotion, the least bit of vulnerability is met with resistance or disdain. “Alright!” or “Stop tripping” are phrases that you might typically hear in response to adulation. An often time, a quick change of subject is warranted to re-regulate the testosterone loss by any displays of affection. “The male has paid a heavy price for his masculine ‘privilege’ and power.” According to Dr. William S. Pollack in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, “Although boys have the same emotional potential as girls, their emotional range is soon limited to a menu of three (3) related feelings: rage, triumph, and lust.” Anything else and they risk being seen as a sissy, says Dr. Pollack. Society demands that men display “machismo” at every turn; and culturally, as a black male there are but two (2) reactions that can be made when faced with conflict; fight or flight; there is no in-between.

Long before deciphering the concepts of the Willie Lynch letter – The Making of a Slave (in one case pitting black male against black male), the publication of Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, or understanding the dynamics of the prison industrial complex, there was October 15, 1997. The phrase “black-on-black crime” was first brought to the mainstream media in the early 1970s, which included Ebony magazine using the phrase in a November 1973 editorial titled, “What Can Be Done?” As an individual growing up in that era, as I matured, it was a normal part of my existence. On that overcast October morning, myself and two (2) of my dear friends were involved in a violent altercation. When I reflect upon the run-in, it was incomprehensible. The echo of gunfire reverberated off the surrounding structures as a number of bullets pierced the skin of my fallen comrade. We had all scattered in different directions after he attempted to remove the weapon the assailant pointed at his head away from his face; seeking to deprive him of the currency and jewelry he had in his possession. As the tires squealed from the vehicle that was left idling in the adjacent parking lot, and fled northbound on the major roadway making their escape, I rushed over to my companion to discover what damage had been inflicted upon him. There were no tribal screams or acts of rage, flailing arms or legs as depicted in cinema; just a feeling of disbelief and remorse. I had seen this coming; spotted the play as it was taking place, and had done nothing to prevent it. I would like to think my skepticism about the events even taking place would relieve me of any guilt I may have had, but honestly we were slipping; I was slipping. We took the fact that we were in our neighborhood for granted and thought our stature in the community made us immune to incidents such as this. That was a lesson I’ve never forgotten.

The paramedics quickly arrived on the scene and our friend was airlifted to a hospital that managed those types of injuries. I had been out of college almost four (4) years and was three (3) years into my career in law enforcement when the confrontation transpired. So as the police conducted their investigation, numbered cones marked shell casings and yellow tape intertwined with trees and branches, questions needed to be answered. Admittedly, neither I nor many of my immediate friends were cut from a fabric of cutthroats and killers. Like most of Middle America during that period, we enjoyed mimicking the lyrics of our favorite gangsta rap artists and lived vicariously through movie characters like Doughboy from Boys N The Hood or O-Dog from Menace II Society. But after witnessing what had transpired, I believe we were all willing to take penitentiary chances in an attempt to get retribution for the possible loss of our homeboy. A visit to the hospital determined that he would recover and the only thing left was to “get our man/men”. After the laughter subsided, the saline solution was properly filled and administered, bed pan checked and breathing apparatuses were in place, there was a sense of angst in the air; a collective tension that justified action needed to be taken. Traveling to the police station once removing the bullets from my hood after leaving the hospital, I contemplated what measures needed to be taken to satisfy my desire to avenge the earlier proceedings. Was I willing to go to jail and throw away my career for the sake of attaining “street justice” and to not look “green” (soft) for failing to retaliate for an occurrence for which I was involved? It was a no-brainer. I contacted Azreal AKA Samael (the Angel of Death) who was willing to help undertake the task of delivering vengeance. And similar to Dough, Lil’ Chris and Monster, but without the convertible ‘64 Impala, we rode through the streets of then Unincorporated Miami-Dade County looking for our transgressors.

In retrospect, I am glad we never found the culprits that dreary, fall evening. There was a case of mistaken identity and misinformation. It is amazing how a series of events can cause a chain reaction which could plummet an individual into the pits of purgatory. I still have the deposition that reads, “State of Florida v. (insert name)”. The charges were Robbery, Gun/Deadly Weapon 1st Degree Murder/Premeditated and Robbery Gun/Deadly Weapon. The funny thing is we, myself in particular, have had plenty of opportunities to have our revenge; if death were our intent. It is common for most people not to recognize individuals that they have casual to little contact with. Perhaps either of them could not identify us; maybe they did not care and thought we were not going to do anything; just some clean cut rabble rousers living their lives and not causing trouble. On one remote Sunday afternoon years later, my friends and I were all together, ironically at the scene of the crime by the basketball court. The primary suspect in question was in our view, less than one hundred (100) feet away; none the wiser to who we were and our possible intent. I spoke with the individual who nearly had their life taken by this person; identified the individual as the perpetrator of the offense and asked him what he wanted to do. Any answering would have been acceptable while awaiting his reply. He had lived through that unpleasant experience; had to endure the pain and heal both physically and emotionally. If he would have said, “Let’s duct tape that shit and put his ass in the trunk”, I would have gone along and help commit the dastardly deed. Being raised in a broken home or lack of formal education would not be the justification for my decision making; as I enjoyed the benefits of being raised in a two (2) parent home and being an academic scholar. Anything that would have help make him whole again, although wrong and knowing the ramifications, I would have prayed to have had the courage to undertake the task, and would have done so because of my love and loyalty to him. I would not have asked for anything in return because in my mind, that’s what you’re supposed to do as a friend; be all in. With adrenaline rapidly coursing through my veins, I reluctantly awaited his response with anticipation. “Nah…!! I’m good!” We never asked for the reasoning behind his answer, just a retort of, “You sure?” And from that point, the subject was never broached again until the writing of this piece. The entire incident has been lost to the annals time; only raised when expanding the mythology of the individual who was summoned to help swing his scythe as the Grim Reaper.

The phrase “black-on-black crime” makes sense only if you understand our propensity to commit crimes against people of our own race as inherently different from the way other racial groups commit crimes. There is no difference; crime is crime. In our case, look at how many lives a continued cycle of violence would have damaged. We may not have lived or been free from incarceration to have careers, be a presence in our children lives, create generational wealth for our families, or be mentors and educators. That is what is lost in the equation of violence amongst our own. If I get into an altercation with someone and as a result kill them, then essentially there are two (2) or more people no longer apart of society; unless it’s determined I committed the action in self-defense, there is a strong likelihood that I will be incarcerated for an extended period of time. As males, without our presence and the ability to reproduce, there would not be children. If children were had prior to the incident, there is no fatherly guidance. Without a male figure present, there is no family dynamic or structure. Upon release from a correctional facility, there is now an economic toll that has to be paid; the inability to get public housing, food stamps, student loans; one’s ability to succeed is hindered. In whichever case, there would have been either a choir singing or commissary bringing. At the time of the robbery, neither I nor any of my immediate friends (seven of us) had children; collectively we now have seven (7). I cannot speak for any of them, but his decision to say no definitely saved my life. In my twenties, I would have thrown it all away to get the respect from my peers by retaliating for the incident; to show my loyalty and prove myself as gangsta as any tattooed, grill wearing so-called “real nigga”; never thinking about having to retain an attorney to fight for my freedom or how any of us leaving the block (by death or incarceration) will allow another soldier to fill our shoes. If jailed, perhaps the continuous changing of the months on the calendar would have provided a sense of regret. For those armchair quarterbacking saying, “It couldn’t have been me!” it is easy to utter foolish rhetoric until placed in that life altering position. The prospect of taking another’s life weighs heavily on the human psyche. Who wants to send “kites” from cell to cell as a form of communication or use mirrors as an instrument for social interaction; or have family and loved ones mourn a loss clad in black attire? I am eternally grateful for the opportunities I have had to live and see my friend recover and move past that moment in time. I have never inquired if there were any psychological scars as a result of being shot; I am sure he would not tell me the truth if asked. On many occasions I have told the harbinger of bereavement how appreciative I am for him always being there when I have appealed for his services; it was not until I reached this state of consciousness that I realized how valuable my friend’s decision was to my current existence. The thoughts of our possible response play out like a nightmare in my subconscious and often times haunts my existence. Love comes in any many different fashions. Who would have ever thought the word “No” would be so reinvigorating. Thanks for making that decision King; for that, I love you.

Note: I have spoken to the victim involved in this incident prior to me sharing this story, and he said if he had to make that decision again, he would do so a thousand times. That in itself shows you that the cycle can be broken and people can rebuild themselves when tragedy befalls them. He is a better man than me; I pray I could be that forgiving. “‪‎We Are The Change!” I’m gone! (b)‬

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Endangered

“The more things change, the more they stay the same”, was first used by French novelist Alphonse Karr (1808-1890). There’s no explanation as to why he coined this phrase, but if he were alive today, I’m sure his sentiment would remain identical to his initial thought. Despite the world’s technological and socioeconomic advances, humanity’s compassion appears to resemble that of a Neanderthal; primitive, unenlightened, culturally and intellectually backwards. We live on a planet where the richest 1% of the world’s population controls nearly half of the global wealth; leaving the remaining percentile to fight for the residual resources; where despite these developments, we remain blinded to the reality that engulfs us in chaos.

A scene of uproar and confusion; bedlam has been embedded into the Black populous. “Allegedly” arriving to the New World in 1502, the injustices of the Black Male still stands atop a syndicated list. Since those times, we’ve dealt with indentured servitude, slavery, the Casual Killing and Meritorious Manumission Acts of 1705 and 1710 respectively, Reconstruction, sharecropping, the establishment of unions to exclude “negroes” from the workplace and mortgage discrimination. Notwithstanding the signing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the three (3) things that have hindered Black progress; the 13th Amendment in conjunction with the Black Codes and Jim Crow laws, which has led to mass incarceration; a contentious relationship with law enforcement and the psychological damage caused as a result of serfdom. The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. Though the amendment formally abolished slavery throughout the United States, factors such as Black Codes, white supremacist violence, and selective enforcement of statutes continued to subject some African-Americans to involuntary labor; particularly in the once Confederate South. Many activists site this as the reason for the mass incarceration of people of color, as Blacks make up 12-14% of the general population, yet account for over 50% of the incarcerated individuals in correctional facilities. Jim Crow laws were racial segregation state and local laws enacted after the Reconstruction period in the “South” that continued until 1965 mandating de jure racial segregation in all public facilities starting in 1890 with a “separate but equal” status for African Americans. Jim Crow laws mandated the segregation of public schools, public places and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms, restaurants and drinking fountains for Whites and Blacks. The implementation of these edicts followed the 1800–1866 Black Codes, which had previously restricted the civil rights and civil liberties of African Americans.

It can be argued that the foundation for police departments were instituted by the creation of slave patrols. The first patrols were established in South Carolina in 1704, and were organized groups of White men who monitored and enforced discipline upon Black slaves in the prewar United States southern states. The principle began when other measures failed and was installed to instill slave control and obedience. The first police department in the United States was established in New York City in 1844 (it was officially organized in 1845). This occurred as urbanization was occurring at a rapid pace and old informal watch and the constable system was no longer adequate to control disorder. This can be debated, as many will suggest actions like “Stop and Frisk” and “Driving while Black” are a means of profiling and singling out people of color as being unruly and unworthy of having the rights and privileges afforded to all of the country’s citizens.

Lastly, the most powerful weapon used was the division created amongst Blacks as a result of slavery. The encouragement for “self-hate” is accurately described in the Willie Lynch Letter, and whether real or fabricated, continues to ring true to this present time. According to the manuscript, Lynch presented to an audience of slave owners on the bank of the James River in Virginia in 1712, a full proof method for “controlling their Black slaves” and he guaranteed the slave masters that this method would control the slaves for at least 300 years. He stated that he used fear, distrust and envy for control purposes. After the slaves received this indoctrination, they would become self-refueling and self-generating for years to come. He first stated to pit the different aspects of a Black slave against another Black slave; old Black male vs. young Black male, light skin slaves vs. dark skin slaves, female vs. male and vice versa in all the situations stated. It appears this method continues to work as all the images and rhetoric reflects the self-destructive behavior Lynch stated would occur for centuries.

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We all see the atrocities on a daily basis; our hearts mourn for the losses of lives that occur in our communities, nationally and abroad. Police violence on its citizens appears to have escalated and acquittals for those that appear to “purposely” harm African-Americans are becoming the norm. The sympathetic tears no longer flow from those trying to understand their plight and the obstacles they’ve faced, because in their eyes, that’s the way they conduct themselves. Take the events of recent weeks involving the shootings of Walter Scott in South Carolina and Eric Harris in Tulsa, Oklahoma; look at the comment sections related to the stories and review the threads. Many of the responses consist of individuals stating, “If you don’t want to get shot, don’t commit the crime!” or “You deserve what you get for being a criminal!” The media (television, news and other visual forms of entertainment) plays a huge part in contributing to the public perception. What the Black community views as amusement is perhaps someone’s only glimpse as to who they think people are. So when a juror deliberates the information provided and has to determine the fate of someone who looks like “them” and is believed to have upstanding character, morals and values; and in return have to resort to imagery, lack of exposure or what they’ve been taught or heard when analyzing their inverse, the conclusion is seamless. Victims are left to wonder how this verdict could have been reached when the evidence is so clear. The African-American community sees it as a loss of life; every life is to be cherished and appreciated; no one individual is greater than another; we’re a part of the human race. However, in society’s mind they may only see the ongoing issues that inflict violence. From Chicago to the Bloods & Crips in South Central Los Angeles, we see gang violence. “Refugees” and looters craze the streets due to the damage of Hurricane Katrina. Television shows such as “Empire” and musical personalities like Rick Ross, Lil’ Wayne and Chris Brown paint imageries that our lifestyles are full of violence and their lyrics emend a negative monotone on our culture. We now have athletes; Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and the one who paved the way for them all; Ray Carruth who now adds counts to incarceration rates and nightly news segments identifying an African-American as the usual suspect. In many cases, society has a trained perception although it isn’t right, the Black race has provided them with this site map of autonomy due to the refusal to acknowledge the reflections within their own mirrors. So when an adolescent dies in the streets of Overtown (Miami, Florida); Charleston, South Carolina; Detroit or Philadelphia as a result of the catch phrase “Black on Black” violence; people, from behind their keyboards and telecommunication devices, cry out, “Why aren’t we marching against sh*t like this?” The fact is most murders are intra-racial; with 86% of White victims killed by White offenders and 94% of Blacks victims killed by Black offenders. Advocates will suggest that during the 503 days between the Trayvon Martin shooting and the George Zimmerman verdict, 10,865 Blacks were killed by other Blacks. In addition, there are those who will propose that there’s no significant racial disparity when it comes to police violence against the country’s inhabitants. In an article written by Politifact in August 2014, the website indicated that The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeps data on fatal injuries from 1999 to 2011 and one category is homicides by legal intervention. The term “legal intervention” covers any situation when a person dies at the hands of anyone authorized to use deadly force in the line of duty. Over the span of more than a decade, 2,151 Whites died by being shot by police compared to 1,130 Blacks. Brian Forst, a professor in the Department of Justice, Law and Criminology at American University, said this difference is predictable. “More whites are killed by the police than blacks primarily because Whites (63%) outnumber Blacks (12%) in the general population by more than five to one,” Forst said. A 2002 study in the American Journal of Public Health found that the death rate due to legal intervention was more than three times higher for blacks than for whites in the period from 1988 to 1997. Candace McCoy is a criminologist at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York, and she provided a theory as to why the Black rate was much higher. McCoy said, “Blacks might be more likely to have a violent encounter with police because they are convicted of felonies at a higher rate than Whites.” Felonies include offenses such as violent crimes like murder and rape, property crimes like burglary and embezzlement, to drug trafficking and gun offenses. This would explain the outrage the public has when it appears that violence by those sworn to “protect and serve” is being perpetrated against one segment of society. ‬‬

What if I told you those same protests, marches and events that people clamor for concerning “Black on Black” violence and “police brutality” take place nationwide; but because you don’t, and in many cases won’t see them on your television, they weren’t announced, properly organized, or the occasion wasn’t as heavily “shared” via social media as Taraji P. Henson saying “Take these cookies!” you were unaware they took place. Taking all these elements into consideration, what is being done to prevent the perceived extinction of the Black race here in the United States or worldwide? We’re reminded through history that the Holocaust, also known as the Shoah, was a genocide in which approximately six (6) million Jews were killed by the Nazi regime and its collaborators under the reign of Adolf Hitler. We’re reminded annually about the terrorist events of September 11th. Yet when asked to right the wrongs inflicted by slavery or compensation (reparations) for helping lay the foundation for the United States being the super power it is today, Blacks are asked to “get over it” and no one is held accountable. According to Michelle Alexander, author the book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”, there more Black men incarcerated or under the watch of the criminal justice system than enslaved in 1850. Cecil Rhodes was a perpetrator of genocide, responsible for the displacement of millions of African people for the benefit of White settlers and enslavement of African people on their own land. White people came from Europe and became wealthy from the theft of the gold and diamonds in Southern Africa. Rhodes paid a mercenary army from England and stocked them with Maxim machine guns; and with only five (5) machine guns the English slaughtered 5,000 African people in one afternoon alone–then celebrated with dinner and champagne. King Leopold II of Belgium was responsible for the deaths and mutilation of 10 million Congolese Africans during the late 1800’s. Belgium owes much of its spoils to the people of the Congo River Basin. Yet these events are rarely, if ever discussed, and many of these tyrants are forever honored for the mayhem and destruction they’ve caused, with an example being the Rhodes Scholarship, named after Rhodes, which is an international postgraduate award for selected foreign students to study at the University of Oxford. The world’s last surviving male northern white rhino – stripped of his horn for his own safety – is now under 24-hour armed guard in a desperate final bid to save the species. Sudan (the rhino’s name) is guarded day and night by a group of rangers who risk their lives as they try to keep it from poachers lured by the rising price of ivory. Who will protect the Black race from the verge of extinction as a result of mass incarceration, death by their oppressors or by their own hands? Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” We want things on earth as it is in heaven, yet refuse to work together to create that reality. #Wakeup “We Are The Change!” I’m gone! (b)

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#FreeFerguson

“Now let’s talk about freedom…
The Negro says I want my freedom now, and others say never.
The voice of a responsible, educated, non-bias person says, togetherness, there is no other way.
Until justice is blind of color,
Until education is unaware of race,
Until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of a man’s skin,
Emancipation will always be a proclamation, but not a fact.
You see prejudice squints when it looks, and lies when it talks.
Damn fools!”

I used that monologue while attending college for a presentation, and who would’ve known that the speech would continue to hold such merit today. I understand everyone’s upset! I know the pain all too well; witness it first hand (the psychological ramifications) and read about it on a daily basis as do you. So because of the anger we harbor inside, we feel it’s necessary to unleash our fury on anything & anyone who opposes us. So we burn down the stores where we shop to attain the necessities in life; we vandalize structures that were the pillars of our community; we destroy all the things that had meaning, that were monuments, beacons and landmarks which served as gathering spots. But now think of this, that structure you demolished; those dreams which were quickly dashed by setting those buildings ablaze; a lifetime of work and money invested reduced to ashes, were they Black owned? If not, then who stands to win? The “true” owners will reap the benefits of the destruction by receiving a check from the insurance company. The losers are those who no longer have that establishment to return to. And it isn’t their moral obligation to reestablish that company that you’ve now destroyed. They can cut their losses and head off into the sunset check in hand. Vacant lots make the property value go down; reacquire, resell and turn another profit. Hmmm…

From the time of the shooting until the decision was made last night, monies were being collected for both Mike Brown’s family and Darren Wilson. By late August, Wilson had collected almost $350,000, while Brown’s Memorial Fund collected $214,000. So with Wilson set to resign and move forward with his life, he has monies to be able to sustain for quite sometime, allow the media madness to die down before moving on to his next venture. Meanwhile, there’s no dollar amount that can replace the life of a loved one; as life is more precious than a “Promissory Note”.

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Lastly, the misnomer of “Black on Black” is ridiculous. There’s no such thing. Sure the message was clear in the song “Self Destruction.” We view the headlines from Chiraq (Chicago), Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami Gardens reporting the incidents. However, the term is a media creation to instill fear and give the appearance that this is a problem which takes place solely in OUR community. If you live in Liberty City, Overtown, Opa Locka, Richmond Heights, Perrine, Goulds, etc, who else are Black people going to commit crimes against? You commit crimes against those you’re most associated with or live in close proximity to. “Black represent 13% of the population but commit 50% of the murders; 90% of Black victims are murdered by other Blacks. Yet the disturbing truth, according to the FBI’s most recent homicide statistics, is that the United States is in the wake of an epidemic of White-on-White crime; a (staggering) 83% of White murder victims were killed by fellow Caucasians.” (This was as of August 2014) I ask again, and I always harp on this, why do you think they reinforce OUR negative behavior, never insinuating the positive? Because YOU sell the newspapers, move the needle for conversation, drive the Internet with your songs, participation in sports and theatrics on television. I’m sure you weren’t aware that several young people visited Geneva for a meeting of the United Nations Committee Against Torture, refusing to back down during testimony about police brutality in the U.S. I don’t claim to know everything nor do I profess to be a prophet. The goal is to live outside of the confines of society to attain a higher understanding of oneself. As someone mentioned, the Montgomery Bus Boycott lasted one year, which conversely led to change; do y’all think not shopping on Black Friday; one day of 365 will make a difference? This sh*t is chess not checkers? “I don’t want you to think like me, I just want you to think!” #shotsfired “We Are The Change!” I’m gone! (b)

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