Michael Harriot, editor of NegusWhoRead, a digital magazine, wrote a witty, open letter to white people who can’t help bringing up the nonsensical “black-on-black crime” when in a situation to address race issues in the United States.
The letter, published on The Root, puts the phrase and some of the factors that contribute to its existence into perspective, highlighting an important statistic and the culture surrounding it.
“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,” Harriot writes. “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…goes on to say that 83 percent of white victims of murder were killed by white people.”
In conjunction with stats that show why there’s no such thing as black-on-black crime, the piece explains why it’s the knee-jerk reaction to discussions about Black Lives Matter, police brutality, and social inequality. Harriot suggests that folks tend to feel that a direct tackling of race issues is an attempt to make it the fault of whites, quashing that myth by pointing out that blacks are also bothered by crime and “poor urban blacks (51.3 per 1,000) had rates of violence similar to poor urban whites (56.4 per 1,000),” according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics report, not only erasing an unnecessary divide, illustrating that crime is just crime, not black or white, but that talking about white-on-white crime would contribute far more to society.
Out of exhaustion—frustration, rather—Harriot asks again: “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?” It’s a repeating of a point that emphasizes the ridiculous nature of having to explain why something that’s been debunked by facts is wrong. Perhaps its rooted in a desire to solve a problem using elements of a system that’s broken. Or that an issue would go away if non-existent problems were discussed. Maybe it’s ignorance. Yeah, ignorance; and you know what they say about ignorance.
But Harriot takes the time, because it’s important, and offers an answer:
“[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.”
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