Right Message, Wrong Person
Is this a case of the right message by the wrong person? Last Wednesday CBS News reported that New York City Commissioner Ray Kelly asks "Why leaders upset with ‘Stop And Frisk’ aren’t protesting violence instead". He further went on to say “The fact of the matter is that 96 percent of shooting victims are people of color, yet the community leaders are not speaking out about this. We’d like to hear from them,”
Being an African American man living in New York, I for one am not a proponent of the current 'Stop and Frisk' tactics in the Big Apple. When interviewed by Democracy Now Benjamin Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP stated "This stop-and-frisk program in New York City is the worst racial profiling program in the country, in any city".
Ray Kelly's statements leads me to ask "Is this a case of the right message by the wrong person?" Community activists weighed in on both sides of the discussion. There were those like City Councilman Jumaane Williams who disputed Kelly, calling his comments “obscene” and “out of touch.” “We haven’t been silent. The mayor and the commissioner have been shockingly deaf,” Williams said. There were others like community activist Tony Herbert who told 1010 WINS that he supported Kelly’s remarks. “The commissioner is right, there are a lot of elected officials who are not doing anything,” Herbert said. “If they can march in Harlem, and have thousands of people, then they should be marching on these drug dealers and these gangbangers and say ‘We’re not going to have this.’”
I do not believe that Commissioner Kelly can use the statistics that he presents as justification for 'Stop And Frisk' tactics. I believe that as Commissioner he must come up with a better mechanism to combat crime. On the other hand although a lot of good work is being done at the local level, I am not aware of any local or national initiative to address this issue. New York is not the only city in the country with this problem.
There are those that may feel that it is not our issue to address. There are those that may feel that by singling out Black on Black crime we are facilitating the stereotype of the African American male. They feel that no other ethnic group gets the amount of press that an African American gets when it comes to crime. That may indeed be the case however in my opinion we cannot rely on anyone else to get to the root cause and fix this problem. If we rely on anyone else there will just be more prisons with more young men in them.
As reported in The Final Call The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan announced that he would lead the members of the Fruit of Islam, the men of the Nation of Islam, into the streets to stem the bloody tide of violence that has gripped Chicago and many cities across America in an interview with the “governor of talk radio” Cliff Kelley of WVON 1690AM July 6.
“These young people are our children. They are our flesh and our blood, so we don’t go in the streets like some army to ‘take back our streets’ we didn’t own the streets in the first place. But if we get our young people together and pool our resources, we could own every street where we live,” said the Minister. “We’re coming in the streets to show our young people the love that they are missing.”
I submit that the question is correct, the answer is up to us.
Ernest R. Heyward is the Founder and President of the Marketplace for Social Awareness and Social Responsibility Inc.