( – promoted by Patrick)
Can we all admit that no one really gives a damn about the violence plaguing inner-city Boston?
I have no problem admitting this–because I certainly suffer from compassion fatigue. Inner-city violence in Boston used to break my heart; now, I find myself struggling to even care.
Years ago, I regarded urban violence as one of the greatest tragedies affecting the United States. There was something evil, something perverse, something fundamentally wrong about the murders of so many young black men and women on the streets of Boston and other major American cities.
I always felt that the negativity of post-civil-rights-era African-American liberalism bore some responsibility for the horrors of urban violence. After all, it was alleged civil rights activists Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan who were promoting the notion that blacks were just as victimized by racism in the present day as they were in the 1950s. I was filled with disgust whenever these clowns ran off at the mouth about “institutionalized racism” in the freest country in the world; I always believed that by telling young black men and women that they had no chance of succeeding in “racist America”, they were consigning those young black men and women to hopelessness and despair–the hopelessness and despair that nurtures inner-city violence.
I’d get into heated debates with friends and family members who believed that Jackson, Sharpton and Farrakhan were correct in their claims; I blew up in frustration when I realized that they could not make the connection between the modern-day civil rights leadership’s message of defeat and despair and the viciousness that plagued the inner city.
Sometime around 2000, I decided that it was worthless to continue debating the negativity of the modern-day civil rights leadership with people. Nothing I said would ever convince them that Jackson, Sharpton and Farrakhan were inflicting psychological harm upon young black people with their claims that America was still rife with racism; the only thing I could do was shut my mouth, nod my head, and ignore the fact that so many folks seemed to take the words of Jackson, Sharpton and Farrakhan as the gospel truth.
Today, as young black men and women are found dead all over the streets of Boston, I can’t help wondering how many of these “brothers” and “sisters” bought into the negative vision of Jackson, Sharpton and Farrakhan. How many of these men and women believed the negativity of the modern-day civil rights leadership? How many of them believed that they had no chance in mainstream America, and thus decided to embrace the darkness of the streets?
There’s still a little part of me that wants to scream in rage–a little part of me that wants to point the finger at the modern-day civil rights leadership and hold them responsible for the bloodshed that has taken so many young lives. After all, they were the ones who told young black people that they couldn’t make it in this country because the white man was going to stop them. They were the ones who painted a dark picture of the United States as a nation still committed to destroying black people’s dreams, despite years of racial progress.
Yet, there’s a larger part of me that’s totally numb to what’s going on in inner-city Boston–a part of me that knows nothing will ever change. So long as young black men and women continue to listen to the negative messages of the modern-day civil rights leadership–and so long as “alternative” voices encouraging black achievement are drowned out because the folks espousing such positive messages are considered race traitors–the bloodshed will continue. So why should I care?
Perhaps the modern-day civil rights leadership should have told young black men and women that they could indeed succeed in America–that although racism will never fully recede from the American shore, it can be overcome, and that people of color can achieve the American dream if they work hard, have a positive attitude and never give up in spite of adversity. Perhaps if that message had been sent to inner cities here and elsewhere, many young black men and women would not have fallen prey to the horror of the streets. Perhaps we wouldn’t be at a point where so many of us just don’t care anymore.