March 21, 2016 by Kyle
The ability to do two things at once is not something strange or revolutionary. Consider our bodies – our respiratory system works to keep us alive all while our immune system fights off infection. Our local government is able to run a police force and also keep schools open to educate children. The task can be distinct but the uniqueness of the task does not prevent another important process from being accomplished by an organism, organization or community. I think many would agree with both of these illustrations as undeniable realities. Multi-tasking is not a freakish process, but it’s a normal function of individuals within a fast paced society.
The African American community has had to navigate painful discussions about Black on Black violence for decades. Not only has this minority community had to endure the pain of lost loved ones due to violence but this community has also had a constant barrage of analysis, research and speculation from the media, academia as well as government entities. There have been more ‘Stop the Violence’ vinyl signs, marches, teddy bears strangled around stop signs than you could ever imagine. In my lifetime, I have sat through sermons, discussions, Sunday school lessons centered on stopping violence within the black community. I have been to funerals of young victims and have had family who’ve been victims of violent urban crime. As unsettling as all this has been, what is equally unsettling and off putting is hearing chastisement from those within and outside of the black community regarding issues of external oppression.
This same community has also had to endure the pain of incidents of police brutality. Many black men and women have been victims of those with authority and power who have made improper judgments based on racial bias. The presence of systemic injustice has caused this particular marginalized community to protest and raise the temperature on this issue and many have noticed. Some who have noticed a sharp uptick in the movement to address these matters have sought to critique the call for justice. The reasoning suggests that a community filled with violence ought to stay focused on stopping black on black crime instead of worrying about the epidemic of brutality against black lives across the US. In other words, shut up and worry about your own house and exercise silence on matters of injustice.
I started out pointing to examples of multi-tasking. The reality is that black on black crime is important and has been in the forefront for decades being addressed I might add by countless organizations, churches, non-profits, etc. It is by no means an issue that black folks have remained silent about. The theme of black on black crime is a major staple of sermons preached from the pulpits at black churches in cities where community violence is a reality. The notion that blacks have laid down and played dead in hopes that black on black crime would go away is a myth. So the informed will continue to mentor young men and women, advocate for justice, push for equal funding for education, call and write political leaders advocating for change and preach the whole gospel to a lost world.
I would encourage black folks to observe the tremendous work to transform communities by so many within our own community before they sounds off with uniformed statements such as, “How you gonna say black lives matter and we constantly killing each other in the streets?” The call for justice and the call for peace on city streets require different tools and methods and should not be addressed as an ‘either or’ option but a ‘both and’ endeavor. We must be able to walk and chew gum because these issues are equally important. Addressing police brutality while trying to prevent black on black crime are equally important justice issues that require our focus if we are going to work to redeem communities. Seeking justice and righteousness ought to be principles that prevail over all of life and every aspect of community this must include victims of all kinds of violence. (Amos 5:24)