Stop The Killing, Black Folks…This Is Not Okay!

The number of high-profile murders by members of law enforcement has become a topic of conversation for many over the past several years, and has not only gotten people talking about the issue, but has led to changes in law enforcement procedures and has caused lawmakers to even introduce legislation to deal with the issue.

It is an important issue and I am glad we are having the discussions.

But today, y’all, we need to have another “Come to Jesus” meeting about something. We need to not only demand justice when Black people, innocent or otherwise, are killed by a member of law enforcement. We need to be just as adamant about it when we kill ourselves.

Many in the Black community get outraged when a member of law enforcement shoots and kills an unarmed young Black boy or girl, and doesn’t see that officer get arrested and formally charged with a crime. Or if they do get charged, they get off and avoid jail time or accountability. It sucks, I know, and it causes many of our top Black leaders and community activists to come out in full force, demanding justice. But what about when it is one of our own doing the very same thing that we get mad with members of law enforcement? You may not like this conversation, but it needs to be had. It’s just a question I’m asking, so let’s discuss it for real.

Black people tend to take to the streets in the form of marches, rallies and town-hall meetings, seeking to express their complete displeasure when an officer kills a Black man or woman. For a brief moment, doesn’t it seem like Black people have this temporary collective unity, and somehow always come together for a brief moment to direct their entire focus on demanding justice for these Black victims? They take to the streets, take to social media and show up to town-hall meetings.

But why is there seemingly this universal call-to-action for Black people when a member of law enforcement or someone non-Black kills another Black person, yet this lack of advocacy and anger when someone Black kills another Black person?

Fast forward to this past weekend, where an 8-year-old girl was shot and killed after the vehicle she was riding in was involved in a car crash in Houston, and according to police, a Pontiac and a dark four-door sedan were speeding down a street when the Pontiac crashed into the vehicle the girl was in. According to police, the drivers of the Pontiac and the sedan then got out of their vehicles and just started shooting.

Little 8-year-old DeMaree Atkins was shot and killed in the back seat of the car by these dangerous and irresponsible people who have yet to be caught.

Between five and seven shots were fired, and both drivers fled the scene, and we have a dead 8-year-old little girl with no one to hold accountable. Where is the outrage?

There have been several other murders in the Greater Houston area and many of those killings were executed by Black people on other Black people. Say what you want about it, but we have an internal problem with Black people killing other Black people and it has to stop.

We have become numb and desensitized to what we are doing to ourselves and it has to stop. I bet you don’t even remember back in 2012 – keeping it close to home – where a resident in southeast Houston heard a woman crying for help around 2’ o clock in the morning, and when they looked outside they saw a woman lying on the sidewalk covered in blood. That lady, known by many as “Mother Theresa” in the neighborhood, was taken to the hospital after having been brutally and fatally beaten. Ms. Theresa Landry, who was in her 60s, was an extremely well known community patriarch, and was called “Mother Theresa” because she helped anyone in need, cooking for those in need and offering provisions for those that were without the means to fully care for themselves. Her death left everyone who knew and loved her stunned. But as of today, no one has been arrested and charged with her senseless murder. She was just another victim of senseless violence in our community. But where is the outrage and anger?

If you see a trend here, you can decipher that all of these actions were senseless and have led to the loss of life of other Black people. There are a few people across the country and in the Greater Houston area who are dealing with the issue, but I want to know where the collective anger is? Where are the national marches for the victims of Black-on-Black brutality, and for people like Theresa Landry and little DeMaree Atkins? We must teach our people, especially our young people, to value themselves and to value life more than we currently do.

Where is the national and the local NAACP chapters that are prepared and equipped to speak out every time this occurs? Where are the Black churches and their strong voice?

Where are the other Black community organizations that are engaged and involved in the Black community on this issue? Is Black-on-Black violence not an important enough issue to aggressively address within our community and in our nation, or do we only speak up and out when it’s a hot-button issue to score political points on? Do we even care as a community about this issue? Where are the Black people at who care about this issue?

The violence must stop, so what can we do? I’m glad you asked.

Most of the violence stems from a myriad of things, such as a lack of financial resources, gang-affiliation, drug and alcohol abuse and mental health issues. Dealing with an epidemic requires remedies that are proactive and not reactive in nature.

For instance, Black churches and Black community organizations that have the adequate support and resources could open up their doors during the week to provide job-training workshops, after-school programs, crime-prevention training, create mentor relationships, life-skills coaching and tutoring. There are many Black churches and Black organizations that currently do this, but need adequate funding to operate and equip the people. For those Black churches and Black organizations that can’t operate and function independently, they could support those that are and can by sending volunteers and resources to those entities.

Black businesses and Black consumers should also be a major part of this initiative. They should volunteer and provide resources as well. We see examples of it all the time when participating in a United Way campaign at work or giving to the United Negro College Fund. Black consumers should support those Black businesses should support the Black businesses that support these efforts. They would know that their dollar is going towards a Black business that supports the eradication of Black-on-Black violence and supports black improvement and enhancement.

Black people must become a village again and take ownership and responsibility for their own problems and issues. Otherwise, let’s just prepare for the increased body count in our respective cities and neighborhoods. God forbid!

Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey has been a frequent contributor on the Nancy Grace Show and Primetime Justice with Ashleigh Banfield. Jeffrey has a national daily radio talk show called Real Talk with Jeffrey L. Boney, and is a dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at jboney1@forwardtimes.com