I didn’t grow up in the nicest of neighborhoods. There was a lot of what people like to call black-on-black crime. It was, and continues to be, an enduring source of shame for us, powerfully iterated in the film New Jack City, where the old man takes Nino Brown to task for “killing [his] own people.” However, I can’t help but notice a certain shift in conversation lately when these crimes occur.
Take for example the tragic case of Gerald Cummings, who was murdered this past Wednesday (August 3rd) defending his son from local bullies. One of them had robbed the boy for his hat the previous weekend and was later spotted wearing it by the father and son. When Mr. Cummings reclaimed what rightfully belonged to him and his, one of the youths shot him in the head before his son’s eyes. As of this writing, the murderer and his friends remain at large.
I can’t imagine what Mr. Cummings’ family is feeling at this moment. The man lost his life over a $200 hat. If that isn’t senseless, I don’t know what is. That, in and of itself, makes me angry, but what makes me angrier are the people who use this case and others like it to denigrate those who denounce and protest police brutality, or even bring it up in the first place. As far as groups like Black Lives Matter are concerned, what does Mr. Cummings’ death have to do with the tea in China? The argument invariably boils down to: if black lives matter so much, where are the protests when black people kill each other?
To anyone who has said or thought this: stop pretending that you really care about black-on-black crime. You don’t. If you did, you wouldn’t only bring it up as an argument against people trying to hold police accountable when they cross the line. BLM isn’t the only game in town; there are plenty of groups and programs trying to curb the violence in black communities across America. I was a member of one such program for years, and I continually come across others like it, each trying to do their part to make our communities better and safer. To even imply that we just stand idly by while brothers and sisters are dying by each other’s hands is an insult. To suggest that intraracial violence somehow lets killer police off the hook shows the kind of callousness one would expect from a sociopath.
I look at Mr. Cummings’ death, and I don’t ask, “Where is Black Lives Matter?” I ask, “What is his family going to do without him? How will his son cope with that violent memory? When will his killers be brought to justice?” Things like Black Lives Matter and police brutality – they don’t even factor into the equation. In the end, a man, who was only trying to do what any father would do for his child, lost his life. For no reason. If you can’t see that without thinking about Black Lives Matter, maybe you should ask whether black lives matter to you.
But I think we already know the answer.
What do you think, Alarmers? Leave your comments below.