In his beautiful song entitled A New World Order, Curtis Mayfield said, "The hunt is on, and brother you're the prey." Sadly, that remains true today. We are hunted by vigilantes like Zimmerman. We are hunted by racist police officers. And yes, we are even hunted by some of our own misguided brothers and sisters.
Earlier this year, George Zimmerman hunted and shot down Trayvon Martin for being a black teenage in a white neighborhood. After killing Trayvon, Zimmerman was free as a bird for over forty days. If we did not protest, Zimmerman would probably be free today. At least for a brief moment in time, we were outraged. We mobilized, organized, wrote, marched and spoke. Once the killer was finally arrested, we were pacified. We took off our t-shirts, put away our protest signs and went back to sleep. As Ayesha says on Lupe's new cd, "and two weeks later, it was back to normal." After all was said and done, the Stand Your Ground law remained in place as a license to kill black people. If black people formed self-defense groups and openly brandished firearms, perhaps then Florida would repeal that law.
Now, a white man has lynched another brother, Jordan Davis. More specifically, when a group of black teenage boys refused to turn down their music, Michael Dunn fired 8 shots into the car striking Jordan Davis twice. Again, the people have righteous indignation. Again, the bloggers will blog. The civil rights spokespersons will speak. The activists may march and protest. Then, the people will go back to sleep, and "it will be back to normal." How long will we be angry this time?
To make matters worst, African Americans are frequently the victims of police harassment and brutality. Instead of fulfilling their oath to protect and serve, many police officers are agents of oppression. They have joined the hunt to kill black men. Remember Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, Oscar Grant, Malice Green and countless other victims. For a comprehensive list, please read Shanika's Daily Kos article entitled Hey America! Can you please stop killing our (usually) innocent Black male children?
In addition to being hunted by racist vigilantes and police officers, we are hunted and killed by our own. Such fratricidal killings are far more frequent than attacks by racists Klansmen, Nazis, self-appointed neighborhood watchmen and wannabe Dirty Harrys. Regardless of which political party is in the White House, the same cycle of violence continues. Although there are plenty of stop the violence organizations, marches and rallies, the violence continues.
On the local news, we constantly hear tragic stories about black males killing black males. For example, as reported on WBAL TV, "a man stabbed in the neck overnight early Saturday has died, and two others were shot in separate weekend incidents in Baltimore, police said." As reported in the Chicago Tribune, "last night in the South Shore neighborhood in Chicago, five people were hospitalized after a shooting."
Here are a few sobering statistics cited in a Wall Street Journal article.
Overall, more than half the nation's homicide victims are African-American, though blacks make up only 13% of the population. Of those black murder victims, 85% were men, mostly young men.Our communities have become killing fields. Murders are so frequently that we have become desensitized to the violence. Even civil rights activists have become numb to the violence. Over twenty years ago, we listened to songs like Self Destruction and Stop of the Violence. Unfortunately, such songs remain relevant today. In contrast to the conscious music of the past, today's popular music glorifies guns and murder. This violence has become the new normal. Rest in peace t-shirts, rest in peace murals and makeshift memorials are common in the hood. When we do muster up the energy to hold to stop the violence rallies and marches, it is temporary. Again, things go back to normal until the next senseless killing.
Despite the declining U.S. murder rate, killings remain stubbornly high in poor pockets of cities large and small. In some cases, the rate is rising sharply. That increase is draining resources from police, prosecutors, social workers and hospitals.
As of Friday, Philadelphia police had been called to 223 homicides, compared with 198 last year. Chicago has recorded 337 murders, compared with 263 in the year-earlier period, a 28% jump. Public outcry there escalated after June 27, when stray bullets fired by an alleged gang member killed 7-year-old Heaven Sutton in a poor area on the city's West Side. Uproar over the little girl's death led Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to announce a gang crackdown in neighborhoods with high murder rates.
As long as black men are hunted in the streets like animals, things should never go back to normal. It is time to take a real stand. We do not need anymore "here today, gone tomorrow" protests. We must develop and sustain a true movement that addresses the systemic causes of the violence. We need leaders who will be around when the cameras leave. We must lobby to end the Stand Your Ground laws in Florida and elsewhere. We must lobby state legislatures, Governors, Congress and the White House to enact stronger anti-racial profiling laws. Instead of building prisons, we need to build minds. We must empower our youth with the education that they need to build their future.
This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.