An incursion into the inner city

A tenuous cease-fire holds in the Gaza strip while thousands of miles away, the city of Ferguson momentarily slips into anarchy as citizens legally and rightfully protest the killing of an unarmed black teen while others in the community seize the tragedy as an opportunity to commit crimes for their own advantage.

At first glance, a person would think that neither has much to do with the other but I’d say look again.

The current conflict existing between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza strip is not something that came about overnight; it took years to create the distrust and hatred that allow the level of atrocities each party exhibits against the other to continue.  As a result, what we’re left with today is an almost cultural animosity that makes any attempts at reconciliation or moving forward, extremely difficult.

Does it sound familiar?  It should because it’s almost a mirror image of what’s occurring in American inner cities these days.  Maybe it’d help to think of what’s happening in the US right now as the beginning of what we see today in Israel; a this is how it all began sort of thing.

Whether you accept that notion or not, there is a real fact to consider; that across the country, small para-military forces are mustering in response to what they perceive to be and what is a very real threat from a criminal element that often times far out-guns them.  Unfortunately, that lethal force comes to bear on unarmed young African-American men far too often.

If you still don’t see a parallel then consider that as in Gaza, laws in America are enacted that restrict the movements of these young men and give police more powers with which to stop, question and ultimately incarcerate them.  Other laws, i.e. the Stand Your Ground statutes, give the citizen more deference in home and self-defense situations even though those occurrences many times result in the death of an unarmed teen in retaliation for what turns out to be something entirely unprovoked.

Businesses are allowed to initiate and enforce guidelines that limit their employment opportunity.  And in addition to all of that, black males have been profiled in the past; subjected to law enforcement car stops in what are inordinate amounts of time higher than their white counterparts.

Consider too that as in Gaza, the situation here in America is a political one as well as a cultural and societal one.  The politics of race and fear come to bear as on the one hand, the majority of inner city black males go about their daily lives having nothing to do with anything remotely criminal.  But on the other side, there exists a component of the community bent on causing trouble.  And as fate would have it, it’s the evil component that ultimately gets the public‘s and lawmaker’s attention.

As video of the protests out of Missouri are aired, the message of those demonstrations-that the community is concerned with the prevalence and ease with which young black males are killed by the local police force sworn to protect them-is a message hijacked by the video of the almost simultaneous looting that occurred.

While it’s true that here in the inner city we’re miles away from the situation in Gaza, don’t think that it can’t happen here.  African-Americans have already seen how bad it can be when a police force routinely and wholly doesn’t give a damn about them and  in fact, wants to do them harm; having lived through it.  That was a period in America that I think few want to revisit.

We avoid retracing those steps by stressing maintaining law and order at all times within the community and most importantly, during times of unrest and demonstration.  It’s a lesson we should know by heart by now. And in the event of a tragic and unfortunate death, law-enforcement has to be given the opportunity to investigate and bring the guilty to trial.

It’s only when we allow violence to replace negotiation and permit retaliation to usurp peaceful protest that we stay the course of freedom; freedom from that lingering piece of old world oppression that black males just can’t seem to shake.

You Tube video from Brown Blaze.

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Filed under Justice, Life and Society, Opinion, Race

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