Over the past few weeks, as America has battled rising Coronavirus cases there has been a significant spike in gun violence predominately in communities of color. Many of the victims have been young children. In cities such as Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, and New York have all seen stark rises in gun violence. The summer typically brings with it an increase in violence because kids are out of school, and more people are out and around each other. But this summer brings with it the added component of Coronavirus.
For the past four months, millions of Americans have been practicing social distancing. Sequestered in their homes without the normal activities to distract from the day to day. In NYC, parks had been closed, summer jobs for youths have been canceled, and beaches and pools were expected to remain closed for the summer. The unemployment rate is now at 11.1% down from almost 15% in April. Coronavirus has ravaged the Black community and we have also been the ones who have lost more jobs. In the middle of the pandemic, we have been protesting police brutality and systemic racism. As the rates of violence increased many people have been asking why aren’t we protesting violence within our own communities?
Violence within the black community is an issue. But so is violence within society as a whole. Black on black crime is not a thing despite what mainstream media will tell you. Segregation is not a thing of the past, so most people live in neighborhoods where everyone looks like them. Most crime is committed in one’s own neighborhood so it would make sense that the violence would impact those around you. Black on black crime is a dog-whistle meant to perpetuate the stereotype that Black people are animals and barbaric. Gun violence in the Black community is not an accident, it’s by design. Flooding our communities with guns will create violence, which gives the police license to brutalize us. Creating a cycle where the police believe they are justified in killing us because Black people, especially Black men, are threatening.
I am deeply saddened by the rise in gun violence and even more upset that many of the victims have been children. I am also aware that as millions of people protest police brutality, the powers that be will find any excuse to justify the senseless murders of black people at the hands of the police. One does not negate the other. Therefore, the conversation of defunding the police is necessary. The funds that we spend over-policing Black and Brown communities could be better spent on providing necessary outlets for the pent-up frustration that we are seeing. More community centers, education, jobs, and better health care could be funneled into our communities.
Within the Black community, there are steps that we need to take to protect our loved ones. We need to teach our children to value life, that no matter what society says your life has value. We need to teach our boys and men that their manhood is not defined by how hard they can be. It’s defined by who they, they’re integrity, and their character. We also need to teach our children not to fall into the trap that society has set for them, which is to become a part of the prison industrial complex. A society that does not value who we are, has no right to look at our community and tell us we need to do better.