Black life in America doesn’t require looking for racial strife. It just takes living, reaching conclusions and responding to reality that emerges.
It is painful to be Black, male or female, old or young, rich or poor. Most of us want peace. But we are regularly reminded of our precarious place in society. Consider this: Nearly 40 percent of the homeless population in 2012 was Black, according to a Department of Housing Urban Development study. More than 1.2 million homeless people lived in emergency shelters, including 469,363 Blacks, who were 39.4 percent of the homeless population October 2011 to September 2012.
Twelve percent of the U.S. population, but 40 percent of the “reported” homeless? Blacks lead the world’s richest country and “greatest democracy” in negative stats: We are over-incarcerated, underemployed, die sooner and suffer more from disease and mental illness. As Chicago-based Rev. Al Sampson once noted, putting Black on anything in America makes it worse.
How can any problem, any trouble, any illness, any woe be made worse simply because the sufferer is Black–unless there is an historic and systemic problem? This isn’t whining or race card playing or White folk-bashing, it is truth.
Discussions about conditions in this country often turn on racism, which skews the debate. How? Racism has been reduced to silly questions, “do you like me,” “can I live next door to you,” “can I date your daughter?” “Can I Scandal with you?”
None of that is the issue and social interaction will never reduce disparity nor correct damage inflicted over centuries of deprivation. The issue is how skin color relegates me to a lesser status in society. It’s ok, if you don’t want me to live near you and it’s ok if you don’t want me to date your daughter. (Trust me I don’t want her.)
What matters is a power structure and cultural, social, political and economic realities–seen and unseen–that hurt my existence. If you dislike, fear or even hate me, it doesn’t matter so long as you cannot affect me.
But we are affected daily by the disdain, dislike, hatred, oppression, exploitation and violence of systemic White Supremacy. It is constant, sophisticated, entrenched, ever-changing, ever-present. It never takes a holiday and it operates on physical, social and psychological levels.
We need to call it what it is: Genocide.
The legal definition of genocide is found in Articles II and III of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide, according to www.preventgenocide.org. “Article II describes two elements of the crime of genocide: 1) the mental element, meaning the ‘intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such’, and 2) the physical element which includes five acts. … Article III described five punishable forms of the crime of genocide: genocide; conspiracy, incitement, attempt and complicity. … ‘Article II: In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy … (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. … It is a crime to plan or incite genocide, even before killing starts, and to aid or abet genocide,” the website noted.
Genocidal acts include, “inflicting trauma on members of the group through widespread torture, rape, sexual violence, forced or coerced use of drugs, and mutilation.”
“In genocide people are targeted for destruction not because anything they have done, but because of who they are.”
There is nothing in the definition of genocide that we have not suffered in this country. So pardon me, if I refuse to go along with people who are determined to kill me.
(Final Call editor-in-chief Richard B. Muhammad can be reached at [email protected] finalcall.com. You can also follow him on Facebook and @RMfinalcall on Twitter.)