There is a popular sentiment that swirls around mainstream media whenever Black people erupt over a horrific injustice such as the Michael Brown verdict that Black people don’t seem to care about Black-on-Black crime and only focus on the murders of Black people when they are at the hands of another race.
Jamelle Bouie, politics writer for Slate, is tired of it. So tired, in fact, that he wrote an article titled “Actually Blacks Do Care about Black Crime.”
“There are huge problems with ‘black-on-black crime’ as a construct, mostly dealing with the banality of intra-racial crime, the foolishness of attributing violent criminality to blackness—rather than particular conditions faced by some black people—and the injustice of treating all blacks as criminally suspect because of the actions of a small minority,” he writes in his article for Slate.
He first points out that contrary to common belief, Black crime has been on the decline.
“In the last 20 years, we’ve seen a sharp drop in homicide among blacks, from a victimization rate of 39.4 homicides per 100,000 in 1991 to a rate of roughly 20 homicides per 100,000 in 2008. Likewise, the offending rate for blacks has dropped from 51.1 offenders per 100,000 in 1991 to 24.7 offenders per 100,000 in 2008. This decrease has continued through the 2010s and is part of a larger—and largely unexplained—national drop in crime.”
Despite the decline in crime, Black people have still rallied together to hold protests against violence of all kinds, whether mainstream media decides to showcase it or not.
“In the last four years, blacks have held community protests against violence in Chicago; New York; Newark, New Jersey; Pittsburgh; Saginaw, Michigan; and Gary, Indiana,” Bouie wrote. “Indeed, there’s a whole catalog of movies, albums, and sermons from a generation of directors, musicians, and religious leaders, each urging peace and order. You may not have noticed black protests against crime and violence, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t happened. Black Americans—like everyone else—are concerned with what happens in their communities, and at a certain point, pundits who insist otherwise are either lying or willfully ignorant.”
The notion that Black people should be focusing on crimes in their own communities instead of looking outward has been nothing but a ploy to change the topic of discussion from the unfairness of the current legal system and to give people of color a new enemy in its place— each other, Bouie explains.
“Regardless of cause or concern, a community doesn’t forfeit fair treatment because it has crime,” Bouie concludes. “That was true then when the scourge was lynching, and it’s true now that the scourge is unjust police violence. Say what you will about ‘black-on-black crime,’ just don’t pretend it has anything to do with unfair killings at the hands of the state.”