More and more celebrities are speaking out against violence, however their messages aren’t sitting well with their target audiences. First there was Wu-tang Clan member and music producer RZA, addressing respectability politics and revealing how he has been assimilated into the mainstream culture by suggesting what the black youth should “dress like” to avoid being a possible threat to white police officers.
Most recently, former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis went on a nine minute rant, emphasizing white supremacists’ number one retaliation whenever Black Lives Matter is the topic of discussion: Where are Black Lives Matter when there’s black on black crime? “If black lives really mattered, then let’s do ourselves a favor and stop killing black folks,” Lewis proclaimed. Sounding as if he was delivering a sermon at a church, Lewis vehemently recited several statistics related to crime in Chicago and Baltimore.
However, I find it rather hypocritical of him to address murder in the black community when back in 2000, Lewis himself was charged with two counts of murder for the stabbing deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar. Lewis eventually struck a deal with prosecutors in exchange for his testimony against two of his companions that night: Reginald Oakley and Joseph Sweeting. Ultimately, he pleaded guilty in the case for obstruction of justice, a misdemeanor.
Even though crime in black communities is an issue, Lewis seems to marginalize the seriousness of unwarranted police killings of people of color, and have instead opted to demonize the Black Lives Matter movement.
Lewis’ approach makes him appear to be uninformed about the systemic devastation that racism has had on the black community, which has resulted in crime being as prevalent as it is. In essence, many black and brown youth are killing each other as a result of a lack of opportunity, business strength, and fortitude in their communities. Unfortunately, crime is used to boost their own economic vitality at the expense of their communities. However, it is also imperative to recognize that the idea and, in many cases, the hyperbole of “black on black” crime is intended to paint the perception that black criminality is unique and blacks kill other blacks for sport. Furthermore, the topic of black crime is used to deflect from the fact that there are more whites that commit crimes against other whites than blacks against blacks.
In 2014, the Uniform Crime Reports for murder by race showed that whites committed the most murders, and even killed more of their own race than blacks killed theirs.
It is imprudent of Lewis to ignore the “trend” of blacks that have faced deadly oppression by the hands of those sworn to protect and serve. Law enforcement patrolling the streets where mostly people of color reside possess a cynicism that allows them to naturally associate young black males with criminality. To minimize this reality does a major disservice to the communities that are susceptible of being victimized by the police department. Not to mention, it is absolutely ridiculous for Lewis to suggest that there’s only “a few bad white cops killing a few brothers,” with the multitude of video footage of extreme cases of police brutality that has plagued social media, causing public outrage and protests across the nation.
It is even more bewildering for him to fail to understand the effects of double victimization: the biased criminal justice system giving off the perception that police officers are above reproach, and then having public opinion conclude that the victims “deserved” to die. Furthermore, Lewis’ solution to “stop some of this violence” is to “put barrels on each corner, and I’ll give you 30 days to drop all illegal weapons in these barrels. And if you found yourself going outside of that, the moment I found you with them, that’s 25 years mandatory,” shows just how much he has conformed to white supremacist ideology: stiffer prison sentences for petty crimes, instead of providing funding, jobs, and better education to poverty stricken areas.
Overall, Lewis is in no position to speak on a subject that he is completely out of touch with. It’s easy to recite inner-city crime statistics without understanding or considering all of the elements that contribute towards criminality. Just like RZA and all of the other rich black folks that, in my opinion, improperly prioritize their protests of black struggles, if they aren’t making an honest attempt to know the systematic plight of the black community, and having dynamic communication to identify realistic solutions, then it’s best that they sit in their suburban communities and keep quiet rather than making a lot of unappreciated “noise” about black issues.
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