Sometimes being socially aware and socially responsible means looking in the mirror and honestly assessing what’s on our radar as compared to what should be. Are we following our own agenda? Have we allowed the agenda to be defined for us?
There are many theories as to why of all the murders of young African American men Trayvon Martin garnered national attention. Regardless of the reason I am happy that it did because it exposed the “Stand Your Ground” laws and the influence that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has on impacting public policy at the state level.
We, in turn have held rallies, vigils, signed petitions, and did whatever we could to ensure that this case stays in the public eye. I personally was involved in the coordination of the 1000 Campus Vigil for Trayvon Martin. All of this work is necessary and vital. I am proud of the work that I have done and I applaud all those that have and are continuing to press forward until justice for Trayvon has been served.
My concern is that I don’t see a concerted effort to look in our own back yard.
As reported in The Blaze:
“A 2007 special report released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, reveals that approximately 8,000 — and, in certain years, as many as 9,000 African Americans are murdered annually in the United States. This chilling figure is accompanied by another equally sobering fact, that 93% of these murders are in fact perpetrated by other blacks. The analysis, supported by FBI records, finds that in 2005 alone, for example, African Americans accounted for 49% of all homicide victims in the US — again, almost exclusively at the hands of other African Americans.”
Approximately nine out of ten murders of African Americans are committed by African Americans, this is unacceptable. If George Zimmerman’s crime is an outrage then there are nine others that should outrage us also.
Why is it that when a crime is committed in our own back yard neighborhoods go silent? Why is there an unwritten rule that we don’t rat on our own and expose them to the police? Why do we allow gangs to run through and control our neighborhoods? Why aren’t we holding rallies, and vigils, to demand safer streets?
I think that part of the reason is our basic distrust of the police. On the one hand we need a stronger police presence to help stop these crimes. On the other hand so many of our African-American youth are profiled, harassed, unjustly arrested, and incarcerated that we do not trust law enforcement to do the right thing.
I don’t have the answer. As a matter of fact I don’t think that there is a single answer. The “Marketplace” is prepared to work with those who are committed to developing programs, initiatives, and events geared towards reducing Black on Black crime. The discussion has to start somewhere so let it start here. I welcome you to join our discussion group.
Let the dialogue begin!
Ernest R. Heyward is the Founder and President of the Marketplace for Social Awareness and Social Responsibility Inc.