By Ronnie Kellogg
Sadness and anger flooded my being as I stood in my living room. It happened again. I was on the phone with my mom and she had just told me that my 20-year-old cousin DaeTiauna was killed in a drive-by shooting. Not long before that, she told me that another 20-year-old relative, Playontae, died because of gun violence. While researching this newsletter, I learned of yet another relative that died at a shooting in Westroads Mall, Trequez Swift. This year, the theme of Black History Month is resistance. So let me profile some of the many Black heroes trying to end such tragedies in the Black community. Then I’ll also provide some facts to resist the racist “Black-on-Black crime” narrative.
Resisting gun violence
Erica Ford is a noted agent of change. She saw friends victimized by gun violence, including one killed in her car with a baby inside. Then she began organizing against police brutality and inner-city violence. She founded LIFE Camp, managed rap legend Tupac Shakur’s group The Code, and helped coordinate the Million Youth March. These organizations have been combating violence against Black youth by providing mental health services, education and opportunities. They help keep young people out of jail, and fight for justice and against racism.
Reverend Jeffrey Brown is another difference-maker in his community. Upon seeing a church shooting and stabbing in 1992, he helped found the Ten Point Coalition, a Boston-based group of clergy members that work to find solutions to youth violence. This organization would be an instrumental part of Operation Ceasefire’s 63% reduction in youth homicides. In addition, groups such as Amber Goodwin’s Community Justice have helped reduce rates of youth homicide substantially.
Though these Black treasures try to solve problems for these inner city folk, the issues are systemic. Contributing to economic insecurity, our healthcare system is the worst among developed nations, and our education system poorly achieves its aims. Such systemic problems are more serious in Black neighborhoods suffering disinvestment. That is why so much violence occurs there. “Concentrated disadvantage in urban neighborhoods, which are often populated by Black residents, undermines local collective efficacy and gravely limits the ability of residents to address serious violent crime problems… As a result, urban homicides, largely committed with guns and perpetrated by and against young Black men, tend to concentrate in disadvantaged Black neighborhoods. … Indeed, disadvantaged white neighborhoods of Boston have been known to exhibit similar patterns of violence and lack of cooperation with the police.”
Any talk of these system-wide issues must address that most unhelpful narrative, that Black-on-Black crime results from the incurably violent nature of black people — a problem with no solution. We must resist this framing at all costs.
The corruption behind the violence
According to Open secrets, as of 2017, health care lobbyists have spent $3,800,000 since 2008. The House Committee on Education and the Workforce should take on systemic problems contributing to economic insecurity, but who contributes to the members of this committee? Those corporate interests and the ultra-wealthy won’t change the system making them rich. Further, lobbyists for gun rights spent $13,229,930 in 2022. Put in human terms, someone making minimum wage would take over 800 years to earn that amount.
What you can do
So, here’s the deal. If you want your community and all others to be as safe as possible, then you must remove obstacles to prosperity. You must keep guns out of the wrong hands. The most significant barrier is corruption in the political system. The Supreme Court created the problem and Congress won’t make laws against the corrupt system from which they benefit. So it looks like you’ll have to join your fellow Americans and fight for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Do you agree? If so, please join Wolf-PAC, a movement that has your back. Need inspiration? Remember that we can move this mountain together. For even big money stands no chance against massive movement of people power. As long as we all support one another in this struggle, we shall overcome.
Editing by Steve Geller, Brian Martel and Debbie Augustine
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