I am often extremely direct and see things very clearly. In many instances, from my perspective anyway, things are black and white, with very little gray. Either you are, or you aren’t. You did, or you didn’t. It was, or it wasn’t.
Admittedly, such directness isn’t always the best approach and may even rub people the wrong way.
That might be the case with this editorial, but here it goes, anyway.
Just as you probably have, time and time again I have seen media reports describing an individual’s murder. The killing could have been a random act of violence, some sort or planned retaliation or even an accident that turned deadly.
However, the thing that puzzles me is that some of the victims were known gang members or murderers, who themselves openly brutalized and even killed others. Yet the deceased’s family members say things like, “Why did they (the killers) do this to my baby? He (the deceased gang-banger) would never hurt anyone.”
It is as if people fail to accept the reality that is right before them. Or perhaps, because the person who was killed and who also killed others is close to them, people seem to ignore the misdeeds of that person.
As various murders make the news, there seems to be an influx of outward expressions of sadness and anger on social media. Oftentimes those mourning the loss of a deceased person will post a montage of photographs and videos featuring the person who was killed (and may have killed others). It amazes me how many of those images feature the deceased holding up gang signs and guns.
I recently found myself viewing social media posts of a person who was murdered. As I scrolled through the countless tributes, most of the pictures showed the young man brandishing guns and throwing up gang signs. In one picture, the deceased looked to be 14 or 15 years old, yet he had five guns on his person. Two of the guns were on his stomach, he had one in each front pocket of his pants, and he was holding a rifle. In another picture, he held two semi-automatic rifles. Literally almost every image showed him with guns and gang signs. Even still, those individuals memorializing him spoke of how unfair it was that he was killed, that he was a good guy and so on and so on.
I was baffled. It was obvious he was in a gang, and it was also obvious that he had access to guns. It is only logical to deduce that he lived a street life. So what did people close to him think would happen? Why were they so surprised that he was gunned down?
Again, I am not trying to be insensitive, but come on, people. We have to start addressing real problems in our community. It is a real problem that people have full knowledge of the shifty lifestyle their family members and associates lead, yet they accept it as normal, or they put their blinders on and ignore reality.
The true source of such avoidance is multi-layered.
One aspect of the problem is cultural. There are certain segments of the Black population who only know poverty, gang mentalities and violence. Many in this population were bred into such an environment. If all they have seen and experienced is violence and negativity, then that is their reality. And violence and gang culture are normal aspects of that reality.
There are also systemic issues like poverty, the criminal justice system and racism that contribute to the problem.
Lack of humanity and self-hatred are two more problems in certain segments of the Black community. If we don’t love ourselves because we have never been shown love, we cannot be expected to value the lives of others; it simply won’t happen.
And finally, another sad reality for many in our community is they either don’t know — or they don’t want — another way of life. They have grown accustomed to their standard of living and to them, it is normal. This philosophy reminds me of a statement Sojourner Truth made: “I freed thousands of slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.”
Jay-Z recently released his new album “4:44.” The hype over it has been amazing, and while I have not listened to the entire album yet, I have listened to the track “The Story of O.J.” It is 4 minutes and 14 seconds well spent.
Here are a few lyrics to ponder:
“Please don’t die over the neighborhood that your mama rentin’. Take your drug money and buy the neighborhood, that’s how you rinse it.”
“You know what’s more important than throwin’ money away at a strip club? Credit.”
“Financial freedom my only hope. F*#* livin’ rich and dyin’ broke.”
While Jay-Z’s delivery may differ from mine, the message and underlying intent are the same. I encourage you to use your voice and whatever delivery service you wish to educate and help improve the lives of those who may not know better.