Dear Caucasian Brethren,
I decided to sit down and write this letter to you because every time I try to have a nuanced conversation with you, I am interrupted by the same shrill refrain. Here is an excerpt from every conversation when I ask you to help me find a solution to a problem:
Us: Black Lives Matter seeks to end the abuse by the state against—
You: First, your people need to address black-on-black crime!
Us: Let’s discuss the inequities in education, employment, housing—
You: Let's talk about black-on-black crime!!!
Us: It looks like the Zika virus is spreading to—
You: It’s not spreading as fast as black-on-black crime!
Us: Have you seen this black woman who went missing?
You: She probably took a wrong turn in y’all’s black-on-black crime and got lost.
Look, I understand your reluctance to discuss the problems. I know it feels accusatory. I know it seems like we try to pile all the problems of society and black people on your doorstep and make them your fault. Trust me—that’s not what we are trying to do.
What is your fixation with black-on-black crime? You repeatedly being it up as if black people aren’t aware of violence in our communities. Contrary to what you apparently hypothesize at the secret, global white-people meetings after you share banana-bread recipes and Pinterest posts, black people aren’t home cabbage-patching and clanking together Champagne glasses filled with grape Kool-Aid every time another black man falls victim to a violent crime by someone of the same race. It bothers us, too, but here is the thing:
There is no such thing as black-on-black crime.
I will concede that black people do commit crimes against other black people. I will even concede that white people commit violence against other white people more than we do—but not by much.
Almost every day, an advocate of the alt-right (pronounced “nee-yo not-zee”) sends me a hate-filled email diatribe on how lazy, shiftless black people are ruining America. The cornerstone of their argument rests on the statistic that 90 percent of black people who are murdered are murdered by other blacks. That fact would give me pause or make me feel ashamed if I didn’t know that the same 2013 FBI report (the latest year for which statistics are available) goes on to say that 83 percent of white victims of murder were killed by white people.
Not surprisingly, the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that most people who are victims of violent crime are victimized by someone they know. In fact, almost every study ever done shows that crime is a socioeconomic phenomenon. Another Bureau of Justice Statistics report explicitly states that between 2008 and 2012, “Poor urban blacks (51.3 per 1,000) had rates of violence similar to poor urban whites (56.4 per 1,000).”
There is no such thing as “black-on-black crime”—just crime.
That’s right. White people kill white people. Black people kill black people. I know what you’re thinking: Yes, but black people do so disproportionately. You’re right—even though white people commit most violent crimes (which means that because of the raw numbers, if we had a choice between eliminating white-on-white crime or black-on-black crime, confronting white-on-white crime would pay far greater dividends).
So, my unmelanated friends, maybe the question should be: Why are so many more blacks poor?
There is a definitive answer. Either the black people who worked for free to build this country, and on whose knowledge all Western mathematics, astronomy and science rest, are genetically lazier and dumber, or, alternatively, it is the result of systemic discrimination in financing, unequal employment, disparities in home lending, segregation in education, and the fact that every law, opportunity and constitutional right was not available to black people until 50 years ago.
Nah, it’s probably the lazy thing.
But here is the thing we’d like to know:
Why you always gotta bring it up? Why is black-on-black crime your go-to retort for any exploration into anything that has to do with race? What does Black Lives Matter’s goal to curb violence by the state have to do with black-on-black crime? Does the word “Lives” in the name of the movement confuse you? Is that why you’re obsessed? You’re confused because “Black Lives” is right there in the title? If so, I need to reveal a few other things to you:
- Despite its misleading, lying-ass name, I didn’t see one money plant when I shopped at the Dollar Tree.
- Beyoncé’s newest album isn’t actually about mixing lemon juice with water and sugar.
- Unfortunately, Captain America is not actually the captain of America.
Again, I want to say that black people don’t like crime, either. “Stop the violence” has been a chorus sung in black communities since KRS-One made “Self Destruction” in 1989, and no, KRS-One is not one of the lesser-known robots from the Star Wars movies. Just trust me, we’ve been singing, rapping, marching, protesting and holding vigils against violence in black communities for years. The number of people of color working against crime in black neighborhoods far outnumbers the people involved in Black Lives Matter.
I’m sure you didn’t know that. Why would you? I know your privilege has hypnotized you into believing that we should file a summary report with the white-people recording secretary before we make any moves, but there is no reason that the white populace would ever hear black people talking to black people about their actions toward black people. To put it into its most infantile form, this was an A-B conversation …
Before I wrap this up, I should inform you that in exchange for you dropping your constant chorus, we’d like to extend a hand toward reconciliation among the races. We’d like to unite and offer you some of the best things we have to offer. Maybe we could give you guys some potato salad recipes, some tips on seasoning food, or teach you how we made it through 400 years of soul-crushing oppression and still managed to smile and dance. We know your people have struggled lately with all of the school shootings, terrorism, Taylor Swift feuding with Kim Kardashian, Donald Trump’s fake schools and Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails. We know exactly how to solve all these problems, and we are willing to help …
But first y’all need to do something about this white-on-white crime.
All of Us
P.S.: I hope you like the stationery. I found it on Pinterest.