Written by guest blogger: Danny “DC” Cochran
“Injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
As a young, black male I am troubled. I realize that no matter how many levels of academic degrees or publishing opportunities I gain, I always find myself being reminded that race matters and that being a black male will always carry some stigma with it. With that being said, to me, there is no difference between a child getting killed on the Southside of Chicago and the sketchy vigilante murder of Michael Brown (the facts will be skewed and don’t be surprised if the cop walks free. History has a way of proving these things true). I know this may seem hyperbolic to say, but we live in an apparent age of African-American genocide. So what are we going to do about it?
We cannot point the finger at people marching in Ferguson, MO while some of us sit comfortably in our homes and watch them on TV. We cannot criticize them (the protestors who may be peaceful or not) for doing something (although I do not know what peaceful protest will do at this time), while we do nothing but spit rhetoric on social networks. We cannot judge the lack of protest regarding shootings in Black neighborhoods in Chicago when there have been a plethora of them which do not get media coverage (follow Father Pfleger or Pastor Corey Brooks on Facebook and see the callout for bodies to show up to march). The bottom line is something needs to be done – something drastically different.
People (of all cultures) need to understand that there is and always has been historical indifference between judicial authority and people of African descent. If you don’t believe me, just Google it or go to the library and read sections dedicated to African-American Studies (I would start with some W.E.B Du Bois, Franz Fanon, Fredrick Douglass, Ida B. Wells, Fannie Lou Hamer, Malcolm X, Kwame Ture, Angela Davis, and etc). Before anybody can or should debate me in this, I would read those authors and then tell me that these racial acts of self-hate (murders in Chicago black neighborhoods) and the new lynching by police brutality cannot be dealt with as isolated incidents since these problems are deeply engrained in the DNA of American culture and history; these endogenous, genocidal actions and this current frustration with police has been building over the years; we now see that the angst has come to its precipice and it will only spill over into other avenues (something about this feels like Ferguson is only the beginning).
We (Blacks, Afro/African Americans) are angry. However, let’s be honest about things. Please do not take this criticism out of context, but there are some things we can be accountable for. See we don’t vote or own a lot of property or businesses in the Black community. I often say and will continue to say that everybody is making money off of Black people except Black people. We don’t hold political officials accountable for their gross fiscal mismanagement or who work with those unseen forces which continue to oppress us. Our communities aren’t policed by us. I feel sorry for my Black brothers and sisters who work in law enforcement because their work and sacrifice is often overshadowed by the ignorance of their power-tripping colleagues (I’m speaking of Black cops only because you only hear about the good White stories about cops… even in this context there feels like a sense of cultural erasure).Our families are broken, some of our churches have become spiritual and financial parasites, and last but not least-we do not trust each other. We know the problems, but what are viable solutions?
The bottom line: complaint and criticism does nothing for progression except keep the oppression going because they (those in true power) know you (us-we-African Americans) won’t do anything about it. After the political hype dies down and once another shooting occurs this weekend in Chicago (sadly to say it seems like a tradition that still breaks my heart the following Monday when I hear about another Black life lost to the streets), what will happen? My charge to you is simple – Do something! Mentor and spend time with your children or someone else’s child, volunteer, hold perpetrators accountable for their negative actions in the community. Build the financial base, create the politicians, and make the laws. Educate your community. Teach children their history (true history) and instill in them worth. Last, but not least, stop investing in businesses that don’t do anything for your community. Now there is nothing wrong with nice things, but when was the last time Louis Vutton and Gucci donated/fundraised for the Black community? Find your role in making a change and then act on it. Build a legacy for your family to grow on. More importantly, build your family. Stop supporting exploitive black music (I know I don’t want my daughter or niece shaking her body parts like a Nicki Minaj), and trends sold to us as the authentic “black” (which is interesting that we depend on the capitalistic nature of corporations to show us our “realness”). This is only a small list, but I’d rather come up with options than sit back and be a social-network activist, complainer, waiting for someone to do the work that I have the ability to do myself. No one is going to hand you justice or liberation when it does not benefit them!
So what is my own charge? My pedagogical goals are my responsibility to the community. As I elevate my education and scholarship it is my duty to educate others, develop strategy, and be historically astute. It is my responsibility to educate the children of the community even though it may not come with financial gain. Could these thoughts be didactic? Sure, but it comes to show that, even though my ideas on the particular topic of Black genocide are recursive; they are a reminder that there is still work to be done.
Please do not mistake this for a definitive answer because more voices arise everyday regarding this matter. However, these are my current thoughts on the matter. I look forward to building with ANYONE who is willing to have civil discourse on the matter because there is knowledge and progress in productive conversation. Feel free to add solutions or disagree, but more importantly do something!
This blog is written by Danny “DC” Cochran. DC is a motivational speaker, slam poet, professor, and doctoral student. To contact DC please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org