The Walking Dead: Why Innocent Black and Latino Men Are Killed in America
Sometimes my blog posts go through a long development process while others are more spontaneous and dynamic. This post is the latter. Written as a response on a email thread for the HHRT (Hip Hop Round Table) regarding the killing of Trayvon Martin by a wannabe cop, George Zimmerman. As many of you now know, Trayvon Martin is the latest innocent Black kid or man to be shot dead for doing absolutely nothing. 18 years ago I could have been Trayvon Martin. The Trayvon Martin story has not only occupied my Facebook and Twitter feed, it’s also occupied my thoughts. In short, “Why the hell does this keep happening?”. Now for those who don’t come from Black and Latino communities this might seem like a rare event. It’s not. Too many Black and Latino families are directly impacted by this level of ultra-violence and inconsideration. It’s really a gross injustice. I think innocent Black and Latino young men getting shot to death will always be a sub-national issue. I’ll tell you why:
- Black and Latinos getting shot to death does not impact non-Black and non-Latino communities. Other than the emotional impact, a healthy amount of sorrow/remorse, the disruption in their communities is nil. I don’t say this as a slam to non-Black and non-Latino communities, but these are just the facts. And the reality of non-Black and non-Latinos being served the same type of inconsideration and raw violence is so far removed from their communities and social circles that even the most considerate person would have a hard time “walking in the shoes” of the Walking Dead (Typically Black and Latino men)
- The justice system has handled the murderers of Black and Latino people with velvet gloves. Hence signaling to the nation that you can treat Black and Latino life like an expendable commodity. You can kill them in cold blood and the justice system will give that murderer the benefit of the “absurd” doubt. No jail time and maybe a bit of probation with community service. Although we’ve had a few victories against those murderers who kill innocent Black and Latino individuals, it’s clearly not enough to move the needle of justice in the other direction.
- The people who do a lot of the shooting to death (police or enforcement brutality) do not come from Black and Latino (typically) communities. You might be tempted to say, “Whoa Malik, this dude was Hispanic and White”. Clearly there’s a difference between ethnic and cultural allegiances. When I say they don’t “come from B&L communities” I mean that have divorced themselves from the cultural, social, and tribal responsibilities that would include you in a B&L community. Just like I have ethnically “White” best-friends that have more insight into “Black” culture than some friends who are ethnically Black.
- Black and Latino communities do not have enough political power to stop this. This is why we’ve been “talking” and marching about this since Malcolm and Martin got murked, yet ultra-violence has been institutionalized against Black and Latino communities or individuals.
- Black and Latino communities are big business for the industrial prison complex. You now have prison companies on the stock market.
When you have a system that profits from the death and incarceration of certain individuals while the emotional and moral concern is completely absent from the general public, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what the end result will be.
This goes back to a post I did last year:
I Want My Country Back But from Who
where I said the following:
This reminds me of the Columbine father that said the following:
I am here today because my son Daniel would want me to be here today. If my son Daniel was not one of the victims, he would be here with me today. Something is wrong in this country when a child can grab a gun, grab a gun so easily, and shoot a bullet into the middle of a child’s face, as my son experienced. Something is wrong. But the time has come to come to understand that a Tech-9 semi-automatic -bullet weapon like that, that killed my son, is not used to kill deer. It has no useful purpose. It is time to address this problem.
It’s sad to see any father lose their son to such horrific violence, but at the time, we had already reached the tipping point where guns were in the hands of our youth. The carnage has now reached “everyones” doorstep, but many doorsteps have already been visited by gun violence. The anarchy is now more widespread. Now that we have shared economic grief, we are harking back to the “good ole days”. Keep in mind that there were many before you that have been living with these wounds, but your wounds are now fresh.
As expected the national conversation on teenagers getting killed went nowhere because the “Columbines” of the world were no longer susceptible to the type of violence that leaves their children dead.
Of course we can’t attribute all of Black and Latino death to enforcement brutality (we have a lot of Black on Black and Latino on Latino crime), but we certainly have a justice system that seems to look the other way on some of the most heinous injustices to Black and Latino men.
Shared sacrifice and grief is becoming a lost tradition in America.
- Race, Crime and The Law by Randall Kennedy
- The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
- The Classroom and the Cell: Conversations on Black Life in America by Mumia Abu-Jamal and Marc Lamont Hill
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