Say Black on Black crime again! Say Black on Black crime again! *in my best Samuel L. Jackson, Pulp Fiction voice*
The only thing worse than the term Black on Black crime, is Black folk using it in conversation and on social media. When Black on Black crime is used, the term and the righteous indignation used to convey it give me pause—and a headache.
Yes, black people commit crimes against other black people. But if you lean in a little closer to your screen, you’ll read something that seems to have eluded the general American population for quite some time—white people commit crimes against other white people. *gasps* I had to be the one to let the cat out of the bag, knowledge is useless if it isn’t shared.
On one of my last visits to Chicago, I was at Giordano’s Pizza and found myself staring at a poster on the wall. It touted Chicago as the “City of Neighborhoods”. The time I spent staring at the poster frustrated my companion. They turned to look at the poster and asked what I was thinking, and I responded, ‘That’s a cute name for segregation.’ Chicago and other American cities are segregated. Most Americans live, play, and worship with people who look like them. Unsurprisingly, most victims and offenders look alike.
True to my education, training and passion, I feel it is important for you to know: Public health is everything. Violence is a public health problem. And just so we are clear, violence is a symptom, not the cause. This symptom finds its roots in multiple social factors including unemployment, underemployment (Yes, this is a real thing.), inadequate resources, segregation, etc. Much of what can be named poverty.
Poverty is violence, so it begets violence. (If you choose to think otherwise, please stop reading this post and end all current and future communication with me.)
Deep in my heart I pray that each person reading this is a critical thinker, or has the capacity to become one. *crosses fingers and toes* Answer this question: What were you reading, listening to or watching when you last heard or read Black on Black crime?
Me? Oh, well it was on Facebook. There was some commentary about current events and an individual used Black on Black crime in their response. I tilted my head and stared at my computer screen in disbelief. Men, women, and children are being slaughtered and attacked on the streets and in their homes by police, but the REAL and ONLY problem is Black on Black crime. Oh, okay. *unrelenting side eye* There is more than one issue that needs to be addressed. I mean really, when did we lose the ability to walk and chew bubblegum?
This digital age is both a gift and a curse. It provides a worldwide stage for so many causes, but more often than not, a fool has the microphone and is standing center stage.
Stop using this term flippantly to prove some piss poor point in conversation. This term is not only a distraction, but it is divisive and disrespectful. Black on Black crime is used by pundits to shift the attention of the audience. It discounts and attempts to discredit the work of many who work diligently to make their communities a better place. (Do you recall the Shaun King fiasco?) Moreover, it tries to connect my Blackness with criminality, when it is so much more.
So if it isn’t Black on Black crime, what is it? Crime. Yes, crime. Please join us on the other side of this term, the correct side. You don’t have to look like a fool. Willful ignorance is not a good shade for anyone.
E. Clare Stewart, MSPH is graduate of Fisk University and Meharry Medical College, School of Graduate Studies and Research. She is a doctoral student in the Institute of Public Health at Florida A&M University. Follow her on twitter at @EClareStewart or contact her via email at ecstewart@HBCUstory.com.