Honor King on the 40th anniversary of his assassination with a 40 hour moratorium on killing
“Hundreds of victims of shooting and cutting lie bleeding in the emergency rooms, but there is seldom if ever a white person who is the victim of Negro hostility.” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Forty years ago an assassin’s bullet tore through the neck of one of world history’s leading martyrs for racial justice and economic equity justice and equally important an end to the senseless killing whether it was in Vietnam or in America’s mostly black and Latino inner cities.
King’s end the killing message is now more vital to hear and heed than ever. The killing is not in Vietnam that has aroused fear and worry in America’s inner cities, it’s the carnage in these neighborhoods. The victims are overwhelming black and Latino and the killers are almost always other blacks and Latinos. But the murder rate remains agonizingly highest among blacks.
The Bureau of Justice in its report on homicides in 2007 found that the black murder rate is many times higher than that of whites, or even Latinos. In fact it’s the leading cause of death among black males age 16 to 34.
By contrast, among white males murder drops to number five after accidents, suicide, cancer and heart disease as a cause of death. More police, dozens of new prisons and passing tougher laws haven’t curbed black violence. And they won’t. Blacks don’t slaughter each other at such a terrifying rate because they are naturally violent or crime prone. They are not killing each other simply because they are poor and victimized by discrimination. Or because they are acting out the obscene and lewd violence they see and hear on TV, films, and in the gangster rap lyrics that blare on the streets.
The violence stems from a combustible blend of cultural and racial baggage many blacks carry. In the past crimes committed by blacks against other blacks were often ignored or lightly punished. The implicit message is that black lives were expendable. Many studies confirm that the punishment blacks receive when the victim is white is far more severe than if the victim is black.
The perceived devaluation of black lives by discrimination encourages disrespect for the law and drives many blacks to internalize anger and displace aggression onto others that, of course, look like them. They have become especially adept at acting out their frustrations at white society’s denial of their “manhood” by adopting an exaggerated “tough guy” role. They swagger, boast, curse, fight and commit violent self-destructive acts.
The accessibility of drugs, and guns, and the influence of misogynist, violent-laced rap songs also reinforce the deep feeling among many youth that life is cheap and easy to take, and there will be minimal consequences for their action as long as their victims are other young blacks. And as long as the attackers regard their victims as weak, vulnerable, and easy pickings they will continue to kill and maim with impunity.
The other powerful ingredient in the deadly mix of black-on-black violence is the gang and drug plague. The spread of the drug trade during the 1980’s made black youth gangs even bigger and more dangerous. Drug trafficking not only provided illicit profits but also made gun play even more widespread. Gang members use their arsenals to fend off attacks, protect their profits from hostile predators, and to settle scores with rivals.
The Bureau of Justice report traces the recent escalation in the black homicide rates to busted drug deals, competition over markets and disputes over turf. When innocent victims are caught in these shoot-outs, that fortifies the conviction of suburban whites that black neighborhoods are depraved war zones.
The Violence Policy Center says that the answer is to get the guns off the streets. In other words pass even more draconian gun control laws. That’s the favorite liberal reformers panacea to the murder plague. And while there are way too many guns on America’s streets, all the gun laws on the books wouldn’t have stopped the killing of Jamiel Shaw.
What’s an answer?
Black parents, churches and organizations such as the NAACP that are quick to storm the barricades against civil rights abuses must make stopping black violence a priority. They can do much more to provide positive and wholesome mentoring and role models for at risk young blacks. And that doesn’t mean cheerleading them when they buy $250 sneakers they don’t have the money for, or turning a blind eye when they skip school.
In other words, they have to show by word and deed that the lives of at risk young blacks and Latinos count for something. The spike up in murders in Los Angeles with most of the victims black or Latino is a harsh warning that Dr. King’s plea for an end to the killings still screams loudly to be heard.
The Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable, civil rights leaders, and family members of victims of violence call for a 40 Hour King Assassination Moratorium on Killing. It begins at 6.01 PM Friday April 4, the exact time and the date King was killed forty years ago. It ends at 10.01 AM Sunday April 6. The Los Angeles Urban Policy Roundtable will host a “ 40th Anniversary King Assassination Dialogue on Violence Roundtable” on Saturday April 5, 10:00 AM at Lucy Florence Coffeehouse, 3351 W. 43rd St., L.A. Leimert Park.
Community leaders, elected officials, law enforcement are invited to dialogue on specific initiatives that the community can implement to reduce murder violence.
Memorial service for “Big Willie” Robinson, the man who started the International Brotherhood of Street Racers, will be held Friday at the Faith Central Bible Church in Inglewood. Robinson died Saturday after a long struggle with vascular disease. He was 70.
By George Dean and Ortensia Lopez
The Greenlining Institute
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