You may have heard critics of Black Lives Matter retort with ‘but what about black on black violence?’ These critics contend that why is it that some people don’t protest against incidents where one member of the Black community is killed by another Black person. Why is it that BLM supporters have exclusively focused their ire on cops who perpetrate violence against African Americans, they say?
If anything, Black Lives Matter has made it clear that most people believe that Black lives do not matter. The Mapping Police Project says that black people are 3x as likely as white people to get killed by law enforcement authorities in America.
It is alleged by commentators that white supremacists across the political spectrum use this phrase ‘black on black violence’ to shame, even silence activists and community members against speaking out about police brutality. At the same time, some academics and activists say that this phrase is full of racist and offensive undertones. They believe its only purpose is to unfairly paint the Black community as criminally inclined. To support their assertions, they point out that there are no conversations happening about ‘white on white violence’ on mainstream media.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics 2019:
Given the statistics above, the mere idea that the black community is its own enemy does not hold much value. Cultural critics contend that why is it only the phrase ‘black on black crime’ that’s used as an excuse to formulate more aggressive police tactics against members of a particular community? And while we’re at it, why is it that black people are incarcerated more than members of any other disposition.
Branding one entire group of people as a race of criminals, you can see why the very idea of it is racist at its core.
Khalil Jibran Muhammad, historian and professor of history, race and public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, says that the phrase ‘black-on-black crime’ was used on a massive level in the 1970s. According to him, the Black community is being unfairly persecuted and singled out for being ‘violent.’
To support his assertions, Khalil gives the example of European immigrants who settled in America in the early 1900s. They, too, had to bear the brunt of racial discrimination as they sought to assimilate into American society. These immigrants worked to increase economic opportunity, helped by police reform and home-owning rules.
But the same did not happen for the African-American community, even as they sought to integrate themselves into society and become productive citizens. Khalil contends that this long-standing prejudice against the Black community is largely in part due to the state’s racist legacy. Instead of being accorded economic investment and incentives, they became targets of high-handed policing and prisons instead.
Even politicians, both Republican and Democrats, have not shied away from using black-on-black crime as a troupe. President Reagan’s ‘War on Drugs’ resulted in more blacks being jailed than ever. Bill and Hillary Clinton were confronted about using the term ‘super predators’ by Hillary in a speech by activists.
The struggle against racial prejudice against Blacks must continue. It is important to remember that this community isn’t demanding any special treatment under the law and Constitution. Rather, blacks just want to be treated equally as anyone else. And for that to happen, the struggle for equal rights has to continue.
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