, Guest Columnist
“Round and round and around we go, where the world’s headed nobody knows.” Ball of Confusion-The Temptations
It has been a bloody 2019 so far in my city of Durham, North Carolina. Almost every day, a shooting has occurred that has left someone’s son or daughter lying on the sidewalk in a pool of blood. The majority of the victims–African American young men under 30 years old. While these are the tales from my ‘hood, chances are, it’s the same in your community, as well.
I’ve been in this city since 1985 and this is not the first time Durham aka the “Bull City,” but now known as the “Bullet City” has undergone a wave of violence. But this time feels different.
Maybe it’s because of the drive by shootings that are happening in broad daylight at random places around the city. Or perhaps because the age of the victims seems to be getting younger (the youngest this year being a nine-year-old child).
So, we have undergone a year’s worth of panel discussions, peace rallies and marches with the participants all begging for the ever evasive “solution” and all asking the unanswerable question: “Why?”
Of course, city officials and concerned citizens have offered the usual White user-friendly suggestions of “more police,” “better jobs,” “better education,” etc., but these solutions never seem to work. The only solutions that have ever been able to stop Black self-destruction have been activities rooted in Black Nationalism and the creation of a positive self-identity.
Let us look at this, historically.
You rarely have heard of Black on Black violence being a major problem when Black pride and awareness were at its highest such as the early 20th century when Marcus Garvey organized from 6 to 11 million Black people under the red, black and green flag of Black solidarity. Nor did you hear about drive-by shootings during the rallies of freedom fighters such as Kwame Ture or Malcolm X during the Black Power Era.
Even during more recent years, you can point at the “conscious Hip Hop Era” when the hottest rap groups were Public Enemy, X-Clan and Boogie Down Productions as a period when Black self-inflicted genocide was at a low point. Or the period immediately following the 1992 LA Rebellion (in the aftermath of the Rodney King verdict) when Black street gangs decided to put aside beefs and “fight the powers that be.” Also, how many fist fights broke out at the Million Man March of 1995?
So, if Black unity is a verifiable workable solution, why has it not been utilized? There is a fear amongst White America of Black people coming together under unity and self-determination. One can make a strong argument that the Black Codes which prevented Black people from gathering in the post-Civil War Era have never gone anywhere, just assumed different and more nefarious forms.
History records that the fall of the Garvey and Black Power movements were caused by government sponsored programs like COINTELPRO. One could also argue that era of positive Hip Hop was replaced by gangsta rap because of the fear of another LA Uprising against oppression.
So, the Black Codes of yesterday seem to still be operative, whereby, the powers that be have clandestinely decided that the gang violence that permeates many cities is preferable to a Black United Front and the status quo of White supremacy must be upheld by any means necessary. Unfortunately, many of our young brothers and sisters are being used as pawns in this deadly game of destruction. But what can we do?
First, we must end the fallacy that there are no solutions. Our scholars and activists have given us hundreds of solutions over the last hundred years that can all be found on the internet or at your local library. One must only look at the works of Dr. Carter G Woodson–“MisEducation of the Negro,” Dr. Amos Wilson–“Black on Black Violence,” or Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow.” There are no shortages of “solutions,” what we lack is implementation.
Secondly, we can no longer afford to just “preach to the choir” but we must hit the proverbial “highways and byways” to deliver a message of empowerment to the victims of a failed Euro-centric educational system. We must come up with new and innovative ways to reach a generation that is seeking light in the midst of darkness.
Lastly, we must organize, organize, organize, as the ancestor Kwame Ture would say. In Durham, North Carolina, there is a new movement being formed to unite the brothers and sisters on the streets to fight for political empowerment called BLAC (Black Liberation Action Committee). These efforts must be duplicated, not only in Durham but in every ‘hood in America.
If something revolutionary isn’t done, as the Friends of Distinction sang back in the day, “We’ll forever be going in circles.” Min. Paul Scott is founder of the Durham, N.C.-based Black Messiah Movement. He can be reached at: [email protected] or (919) 972-8305. Follow him on [email protected].