I am tired of the phrase “Black on Black crime” being thrown around on social media every time there is a conversation surrounding state violence. The term seems to be used most often in order to silence Black people when talking about issues with police being that as soon as we mention an instance of police brutality, here comes twitter with “y’all don’t put this same energy into talking about Black on Black crime”, which is extremely nonsensical and quite the hot-take.
For one, as it is used by social media users, the term “Black on Black crime” is divisive language used to make it seem as though African Americans are the only racial group killing one another. Social media never uses the term “White on White crime” or “Hispanic on Hispanic” or any other racial group as a prefix for crime in the way it does Black Americans and by doing this it makes it seem as though Black people are murdering one another at astronomical rates compared to other racial and ethnic groups, when in reality that is false. According to the U.S News and World Report, “The vast majority of homicide victims are killed by people of their own race. People tend to kill who they know.” meaning that Black people are no more likely to kill Black people than White people are to their own racial group. In fact, the percentages of victims killed by their own race, for White and Black citizens, are relatively close peaking at “91.9 and 84.2 percent, respectively.”
Furthermore, the idea that Black people “don’t care about” or “keep the same energy” regarding Black on Black crime is, in my opinion, absurd. I think it is extremely disrespectful to groups who are working on issues like gang violence…who are working on issues like the school to prison pipeline…who are working on issues like redistricting and redlining…who are working on infant mortality- to state that Black people “don’t care” when the reality is that there are activists, organizations, and community groups working tirelessly to combat violence in Black areas and crime among Black people but the media outlets which we do have don’t see their stories as worthy of coverage or worthy of going viral. I think it to be an oversimplification of the issue to state that we “don’t keep the same energy” when there are coalitions being formed everyday in order to stop crime in our communities. Not only this, but when we discuss violence in Black neighborhoods and among Black people, we have to look at it from a sociological perspective. If we’re discussing crime in Black areas, we also have to talk about poverty. We have to talk about lack of resources. We have to discuss historical and systemic wrongdoings which have allowed crime to prevail, and we have to take into consideration that there are an abundance of organizations geared toward attacking those instances of structural racism and making it so that Black citizens are able to thrive and rates of crime in Black communities lower. There are so many people tackling the issues which play a part what is considered “Black on Black crime” that it is an unfounded statement to say that Black people “don’t care” about crime in our own communities. Honestly, I think a statement of that nature is a slap in the face to groups working on these issues and it negates a lot of the work being done by activists and community organizers.
Lastly, the job of an officer is to “serve and protect” communities from crime, so the police state murdering Black people at such high rates compared to other racial groups-the police murdering people at all- is worthy of discussion and can not be put in the same arena as “Black on Black crime” which again, does not occur at monumental rates compared to other groups. To bring up “Black on Black crime” as a response to conversations surrounding state violence is to fail to hold authority accountable. It is to tell Black people that we can not be concerned about multiple issues at once and it is to say that state terrorism is not worthy of discussion.