By Chandlor Henderson
One thing that has always annoyed me about the American media and white communities is the use of the term “black-on-black” crime. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen, but when a white person hurts another white person, is that called “white-on-white” crime? It’s not. So let’s unpack that, for the people in the back.
First of all, what are the causes of crime in general? Who are the victims? Most crimes are committed within the perpetrators’ own communities, and most crimes are committed by people below the national poverty line. I don’t think I need to recount here the timeline for black Americans over the past 400 years, but this history has clearly contributed to the wealth disparity, in addition to an apparent overwhelming desire to underpay black men. This habitual undervaluing of black worth and potential is so entrenched that even self-proclaimed “liberals” take these stereotypes as fact. I myself have been told by older white men that I could not possibly have a future of earning more than minimum wage (all the while, in reality, already earning much more than minimum wage). Some people really believe that without knowing a single thing about me, aside from what they find on the internet, they can calculate my earning potential. This is not only racist, but it’s incredibly stupid. However, this happens over and over again, across the board… which brings me to my current community.
I live in Eugene, Oregon, which was founded by racist white people and maintained as a haven for Klansmen and their sympathizers for generations. From a 21st Century perspective, the process of “claiming” this land from the Kalapuya and other Willamette Valley natives was wrought with criminal activities at the hands of white settlers. Entire communities were wiped out by violence, disease, and deceit. Even so, how often is this “white-on-native” genocide acknowledged by the people who live here now? This brings to mind the complaints of self-described “native Oregonians” about the influx of Californians to this state, as though they threaten some kind of horrible cultural shift. Such complaints are amusing to me for several reasons. First, these “native Oregonians” are often only 2nd generation Americans themselves. Second, what exactly are they trying to protect? This state is plagued by drug problems, homeless, and even human trafficking! In the last two weeks I’ve seen more fights in downtown Eugene than I’ve seen in my entire life. Speaking of crime, the rioting and looting that happened a few weeks ago following a BLM march was carried out exclusively by white folks, even as BIPOC citizens begged them to stop. Of course, Eugene is overwhelmingly white, so it makes sense that most crimes here would be committed by white people. Yet, labeling crime in this area as “white-on-white” seems to make people oddly uncomfortable. Maybe this is because white people don’t think of themselves in racial terms. Maybe “black-on-black” is not just a descriptor, but a tool for perpetuating covert racism.
The reality is, if the “white consciousness” can push the idea to black people that we aren’t safe around each other, then they can conquer us. The term “black-on-black” crime is a tactic used to keep black people striving to “blend”, so as to not appear to be a threat. This “blending” is accomplished by losing their culture and identity. Because, isn’t it obvious, being white is clearly the way to go. I mean, who doesn’t want to have an uncle who supports Donald Trump and makes weird inappropriate jokes at holiday gatherings? That sounds just swell to me!
But back to the protests — stop bitching about the looting to begin with. Keep in mind that the reason anyone is even outside to begin with is to protest state-funded police violence. It seems that the only way to get middle America to stop and pay attention to our demands is to burn some shit down. We’ve tried being peaceful. MLK Jr. marched peacefully and y’all killed him on a balcony. This generation isn’t being peaceful. Your fears of fire and destruction could easily be avoided if instead of judging people you don’t know, you actually make an effort to understand them. And if you don’t want to talk to them, at least help create a fair society so they can go buy land and build cities of their own. I think it’s time to admit that forced integration didn’t work. Look where we are now. If there were a “black Oregon” with a “black Eugene,” I’d go live there in a heartbeat and you would never have to see my black ass again, unless you wanted to come spend money. I wouldn’t ban or discriminate, until you behaved like a dick.
Also, has anyone heard about this white man who drove into a crowd of people in Atlanta yesterday and just started shooting? Or is this something that will be swept under the rug to try to avoid more protests? Well… I’ll tell you about it. Yesterday two white men drove into a populated area of Atlanta and started shooting, killing two people, in a clear “white-on-black” crime case. If it weren’t for Twitter I would have never heard about it, because this isn’t being reported on the news. I can imagine someone defending this omission by arguing that the media couldn’t possibly report every crime that happens in poor communities across the country. Granted, I don’t know much about Atlanta’s Englewood neighborhood, but having experience with minority neighborhoods in DC, I know not to just assume black people are living below the poverty line. Even if the “white man” won’t give us fair jobs, we create them for ourselves by trading within our own communities and doing odd jobs. So when a black neighborhood is labeled as poor… there’s a good chance that it’s anything but.
In summary, the term “black-on-black” is bullshit, stop devaluing our power and resilience, and start asking yourself the hard questions. I can see through your faux-inclusivity, and thank you but I’ll pass.