People all over the country have taken a stand in protest to the horrific act of the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, especially African Americans. The controversy derives from the fact that a white man killed a Black boy. This situation has been labeled as a racist hate crime. The murderer, 28-year-old George Zimmerman, is definitely wrong and should be dealt with accordingly; but what type of threat could an unarmed 17-year-old pose to a 28-year-old man? Nevertheless, there is an equally important issue related to this tragic story.
Based on the attention this misfortune has attracted, we are reminded of the power of unity. The truth is we as a community should be taking a stand every time an individual is senselessly murdered, no matter the race of who is involved. The act that occurred in the Florida community Trayvon was is a regular occurrence in communities across the nation on a daily basis. The only difference is that Blacks are the culprits committing these murders.
More concerning, Blacks are committing these crimes in Black communities and no one is saying a word (quite literally) in the name of having the desire to not be labeled as a snitch. Usually, the only time something is said or spoken against is when the murderer is a police officer or a white person that has taken the life of a Black person. When a Black on Black murder takes place, only more lives are lost out of revenge because the violence is not addressed by the justice of the community. The only way these killings are being addressed is by our criminal justice system.
I believe that communities speaking up against senseless killings would curb the number of deaths of our young people for the following reasons:
1. Individuals would dismiss the thought of being able to get away with murder.
2. It would preserve the Black male population. Every time a murder is committed we lose a Black male or female to death. If there is a prosecution, we then lose one to death and one to prison.
3. It would improve the safety of our communities.
4. It would redirect the glorification placed on self-destructive behavior and shift those energies into positive and constructive activities.
5. It would restore the value of our lives.
My question to African American citizens in under-served communities is this: Who is going to take the responsibility to be responsible? Are we going to allow fear to rule the better judgment of our conscience? Or are we going to protect our youth and the communities they dwell in? We cannot decide to be vocal only when an individual from the white race or a position of authority violates our rights. This insinuates that a hidden agenda exists. As African Americans, our discrepancies have never been hidden (be it the Civil Rights march, million man march, Trayvon Martin march, etc.) only self-suppressed. Beware, because once we are aware, we are held responsible. My condolences and best wishes are extended to the family and friends of Trayvon Martin.
A.J. Briscoe is the author of “Lynching Willie”, a book based on the re-conditioning of the African American's train of thought. He is also the author of fictional novel “Changing Places Volume #1”, a trilogy based on young Black male and females ability to make better decisions. He writes fictional novels under the pseudonym B-Low. He is a reformed five time felon who has served over 10 years in the criminal justice system. Today he is active in community endeavors focused on improving the conditions of at risk teens and troubled adults.