It did not take me long to fully grasp the outrage following the death of a Black man or woman at the hands of a white man, especially a policeman. No, not with all the Black people upset, crying, looting and screaming racism.
Yes, the killings of Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and others added to the lootings and burnings in Ferguson and riots in Baltimore stirred, and even rocked, our conscious psyche.
Well, you may not like the medicine that I am about to administer, but if you can manage to continue reading I guarantee that this carefully prepared, but bitter cocktail will help us as a community to both grow and excel.
Here in Montreal we have our own Ferguson, an aberration of sorts, where there are so many unsolved murders of Black youth. Where are the angry crowds demanding that we unite, strategize, improvise, and gather all the forces necessary to turn things around?
Let me put names to a few from the ever-growing list of homicide victims: Nesta Gordon, Andrew Hunte, Lorenzo Fletcher, Ronald Brooks, Shane Lawes, Jason Forbes, Tyler Jacobs, and now our latest, Nathaniel Reid. He was found lying near John F. Kennedy St. and Dollard St. around 5:30 p.m. last Thursday, September 24, with multiple stab wounds to his upper body.
So far there are no witnesses to the crime, which according to media reports took place in a well-frequented area.
Again no witnesses, again this will be another unsolved homicide, again another young Black man has bitten the dust. Yet another black cold case staring us straight in the face! One can hear birds chirp while listening for the public outcry over these murders of our Black males by unknown perpetrators.
It is almost as if these Black lives don’t seem to matter. If as a community we felt that the lives of our young men really mattered, then we should be having regular ongoing conversations about the growing number of unsolved homicides. We should take to the streets protesting, holding rallies, town hall discussions, ongoing discussions at the classroom level, anti-violence sermons from the pulpit, cooperating with law enforcement agencies, in home disciplining all displaying our outrage at this form of quasi genocide and senseless taking of lives. Instead, we are retreating to yet another cynical attempt to lay the blame on others. Crying and wailing every time a Black person is murdered avails us nothing; we must act.
Do not for one moment misquote or misunderstand me, all lives do matter, and killing is a problem right across the board.
Statistics, however, have shown that those with whom they regularly interact; this is where our concern lies killed a majority of Black homicide victims. We have even failed to become outraged at the succinct code frequently uttered by the police: “The deceased was well known to us.” In my layman’s interpretation, this simply means that the victim is by no means a choirboy, just a career criminal, and a not-so-veiled implication that he got what he deserved. Furthermore, the investigations into the murder could be skewered differently, especially in the absence of witnesses.
Within the Black community accountability is the big A word that invokes animosity and disdain to well up within so many of our people. What accountability am I referring to? Well, realistically speaking, accountability means owning up to what you should have done. It is being responsible for what you do and the results of what you have done. It is looking in the mirror and first being honest with yourself and others around you.
Someone, somewhere, somehow knows something but it is obvious that nobody wants to talk or share any information that would at least be a step, minute maybe, in the direction of solution. Unsolved Black murders are an epidemic; current statistics back this up. The numbers tell the story.
How does the Black community set itself right? Or should that be the blind community? The genocide that is taking place must be stamped out, starting immediately. Do we not care about the many grieving Black mothers and families that have experienced the loss of their loved ones?
We have to police our own community while assisting law enforcement in bringing the elusive assailants to justice. No stone should be left unturned and no holds barred as the community sets about turning things around.
With the utmost clarity, following a protest march for a youth killed in Little Burgundy, in a one- on-one conversation with the police chief of Little Burgundy, the following statement being made, “We would be glad for some cooperation from anyone, and in all the cases historically we haven’t had much help from those out there in the community and the neighbourhood.
So, if as claimed, Black lives do matter, then together as a community we must create strategic coalitions with law enforcement agencies in creating the preliminary steps towards justice for Black homicide victims, regardless of who pulled the trigger.
For success to be charted it has to be a community effort. All lives matter, especially Black ones.
Erasing these fears is something that the police and community can and must work on—together.
Aleuta! The struggle continues…