Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Enemy Within

The Enemy Within
January 29th, 2009

by Justin Giboney
Make an objective appraisal of the following statistics because they form the basis of an inconvenient truth that I would like black America to consider:
A study conducted by criminologists at Northeastern University found that since 2000, while overall murder rates nationwide have fallen, the murder rate among black youth is on the rise.
Homicide is the leading cause of death for black males between the ages of 15 and 29.
94% of blacks murdered are murdered by other blacks.

According to the Associated Press, in 2008, more citizens were murdered in Chicago (city with one of the highest black population in America) than American soldiers killed in Iraq.
While external threats to a nation are always a serious concern, more often than not, internal threats present a more immediate and grave danger (see War on Terror). What’s more, sabotage within cripples a people’s ability to fight without. For some time, I have struggled with whether or not many of the more problematic issues in the black community are a microcosm of that same science. Is it possible that at this moment in history, black America’s most mortal enemy is within?

The Tuskegee Experiment:
From the Tuskegee Experiment to Cointelpro, black America’s had good reason to be suspicious of the intent and effect of external forces. To suggest such indignities should simply be forgotten is neither useful nor realistic. In the same breath, these wrongs should not and cannot be used as an eternal crutch. Unfortunately, the vestiges of such cruelness still haunt the psyches of many African-Americans and render us hyper-cynical and prone to entertaining the most far out conspiracy theories. Cynicism can warp reality.

The barbershop has long served as a daily forum for male discourse. There is no better place to gauge the black male sentiment on a variety of topics. However, you will quickly find that these conversations often unveil a deep-seated cynicism. Enter any black barbershop from Tuesday through Saturday and you are guaranteed to hear spirited debates, along with a few outlandish conspiracy theories. You might even hear a story about how the American government is using iPods and ESPN to exterminate the black community. I have heard theories that are so creative, they make a Dan Brown novel seem pedestrian. It is entertaining at times, but disheartening once you realize that some of us actually use such theories to shun responsibility and feed a sense of helplessness and defeatism.

Notwithstanding the atrocities of the past or the inequities of the present, self-responsibility must kick in at some point. As incompetent and irresponsible as the W. Bush administration may have seemed, they were not the cause of all the black community’s problems. Violent crime is one of the most pressing concerns in the black community and we would be sadly remiss if we failed to take the majority of the responsibility in this issue.
credit: seccad Are We Too Apologetic?

For every Sean Bell and Oscar Grant (R.I.P.), there are several hundred blacks killed at the hands of other blacks (not in uniform). Where is the outrage and protest? Our youth are being intimidated and corrupted and our elderly are afraid to step out their doors. Why do we make excuses for the individuals who terrorize our community on a daily basis? Perhaps it is because they are our sons, brothers, nephews, and cousins. We must fight the denial that prevents us from seeing the blood dripping from our collective hand.

Most apologists suggest these perpetrators are somehow absolved because of historical mistreatment and poor backgrounds. In my opinion, those factors do not justify terrorizing your community. A significant number of blacks have always suffered from relatively low socio-economic statuses; however, poor living conditions have never been an excuse for such poor behavior. Moreover, there are several third world countries with significantly lower murder rates, so poverty in itself cannot be a justification.

These apologists also work off the misconception that the great majority of the young brothers committing these crimes are poverty stricken. On the contrary, I venture to say that a good number of these brothers did not grow up like Jermaine and Dukie in The Wire. There is a pervasive thug and anti-intellectualism mentality in our community that transcends economic lines further than we would like to admit.

Take an honest assessment of the violence plaguing the black community. Can we honestly contend that it does not stem from internal sources? Can we in good faith pawn yet another community issue off on “The Man”? Undoubtedly, we can put a dent in the senseless violence in our community, but the first step is acknowledging the enemy within.

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