“Black Lives Matter” is a great slogan. As a Black man, I agree Black lives matter just as much as the lives of any of our racial counterparts.
But chanting, marching and hashtag activism isn’t going to work unless we also are willing to see the big-picture problems affecting Black America.
Here’s a hint: making Black lives matter has little to do with institutional racism, White privilege and White cops.
One website organizing people pushing “Black lives matter” calls it “a slogan under which Black people can unite to end state sanctioned violence both in Ferguson, but also across the United States of America… to end the insidious and widespread assault on Black life.” It states “Black people make up a mere 13 percent of the U.S. population [but] make up more than a third of those killed in officer-involved shootings across the country.”
Perhaps. But the virtuous goal of promoting the perceived value of Black lives in the manner now demanded by radical community activists is tragically misguided.
Activism advocating that Black lives matter could have much more moral authority, and could be taken much more seriously, if it focused on actions devaluing Black lives. These have very little to do with White cops and everything to do with self-destructive Black behavior.
There is a disparity regarding violent death in the Black community. We are killing our own at an alarming rate.
According to a U.S. Department of Justice analysis, most murders are intraracial and “93 percent of Black victims were killed by Blacks” between 1980 and 2008. Yet, Attorney General Holder, President Obama and Reverend Sharpton haven’t wanted a national conversation about this shocking figure.
In a Black-White comparison, Black homicide victimization rates were around six times higher than for Whites. Furthermore, Blacks were 47.4 percent of all homicide victims and 52.5 percent of offenders.
Blacks accounted for 62.1 percent of all drug-related homicide victims compared to 36.9 percent for Whites.
Over 65.6 percent – almost two-thirds – of all drug-related homicide offenders were Black as compared to 33.2 percent being White. Blacks were 44.1 percent of felony murder victims and almost 59.9 percent of the offenders.
It’s not like things improved under Obama’s leadership. According to FBI statistics for 2012, 2,412 of 2,648 cases of Black homicide had a Black perpetrator.
This, to me, qualifies as an “insidious and widespread assault on Black life.”
Yet those claiming Black lives matter fixate on Michael Brown and Eric Garner while virtually ignoring the thousands of Black-on-Black murder victims who remain largely nameless and faceless except to their loved ones.
The internecine war doesn’t begin there. It actually begins in the womb. As deadly as Black-on-Black crime can be, the most dangerous place for a Black child is still in the womb.
While Blacks make up only around 13 percent of the American population, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Black abortions accounted for nearly 35.7 percent of all abortions performed in 2010. In Mississippi, Blacks accounted for 71.7 percent of all abortions, despite Blacks comprising only around 37 percent of the population.
Similarly, a report from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene found more Black babies were killed by abortion (31,328) in New York City than were born (24,758) in 2012 – totaling 42.4 percent of all abortions performed there.
Do Black lives matter?
Not only is it questionable if Black lives really do matter to Blacks themselves, but one could also sincerely question if deep self-hate is responsible for motivating Blacks to kill themselves off with the recklessness that seems to permeate our actions.
Combining the Black victims of abortion and Black-on-Black homicides, we are facing an assault on Black lives that has nothing to do with racist, White cops. If we don’t take our own lives seriously, why should we expect or demand that anyone else do so?
I believe Black lives matter. It’s more than an Internet hashtag to me. But Black lives should matter to Black folk at least as much as they matter to others. Black lives have to matter just as much when Blacks take them.
Derryck Green is a member of the national advisory council of the Project 21 Black leadership network.