The media has been abuzz bout the recent uptick in homicides, most particularly in Chicago. It must be due to #BlackLivesMatter protesters getting all uppity, or all the out of wedlock Black births, ya know, the baby’s with no fathers in the home. Never mind the system that keeps those men out of work, unrepresented, insignificant and in jail. That has to be it, right? The underlying message is that there must be something endemically or genetically or evolutionarily wrong with Black people.
It would have nothing to do with four larger factors that have been haunting the nation and news lately, right? For those who subscribe to any of the above, that the root of this lies in the Black community, be intellectually honest, it is simply a backhanded way of getting out racist comments without taking responsibility for those comments. So then what are the real drivers to the issue of the upsurge in violence?
The first is that the economy is showing signs of slowing, robbing struggling and marginalized communities hardest. The homeless, disabled, elderly and minority communities feel that economic storm first and most acutely.
Second, the gun industry has celebrated record gun sales at historic levels. The nation is awash in guns. Straw purchases, that is, a legal gun owner buying weapons for criminals is nothing new. resistance by the gun lobby against legislation to track person-to-person gun sales, or mandate timely reporting of gun thefts makes them complicit in gun violence by maintaining and defending safe harbors for criminal gun abuse. The trend remains consistent with Chicago police reporting more than 70% of recovered guns used in crimes were obtained through straw purchases. The belief that guns are being stolen by gangs for use in crimes is a myth.
The third is, what I talked about last year, Black rage, which in a segregated, besieged and marginalized community will see much of that rage inevitably turned inward. The blatant racism punctuated by videotaped police shootings and abuse rightly sparks indignation and outrage. That is most easily refocused in families and in communities where people live, especially since the media and government largely turn a deaf ear, or worse, one of victim-blaming.
Finally, the police readily admit, they are not doing their jobs. Because they have been called on excessive violence, often regarding traffic stops or against unarmed people, or a policy of escalation rather than de-escalation, or for stopping Blacks simply for being Black, the police have stopped doing their jobs. That means the system of policing cannot function without a component of racism or we have a deeply flawed system for choosing police officers. And so we allow one segment of public employees to flagrantly stop performing their jobs. of course, if garbage men decided only to collect every third trash can we’d fire them, or if teachers just left after third period and wandered in and out of class as they chose, they too would be gone.
This isn’t complicated, but it is always easier to blame the victim. It is always easier to ask what the rape victim did wrong than to confront the rapist. it is easier to accept assumptions and falsehoods than to ask real questions.