Tragedy has struck the black community once again. Yet another black mother is left mourning the loss of yet another black son. And yet again hoodlums (and many who know better) are taking the loss as an opportunity to rob, loot and steal. Michael Brown and his family deserve better.
Rioting is never the answer to these tragedies. Clearly our community and our nation has still to learn, process and absorb the lessons of Dr. King, who taught us that the only way to conquer hate is through love and that violence only leads to more violence. King not only talked the talk, but walked the walk, as he implored black supporters not to riot, even when his own home, with his wife and newborn baby inside, was bombed by domestic terrorists.
Want proof? Look at the legacies of the 1960s themselves, as that era fades into America’s collective memory, the devastation of the riots that hit every major black city still linger on. The cities of Newark, Detroit and Washington, DC never fully recovered from the damages wrought by looters some forty-five years ago. Those cities, once beacons of black accomplishment, began their long, sad descent after our people nearly destroyed them. And that’s the saddest part of all this, we’re destroying our own neighborhoods, we’re looting our own businesses, we’re setting our own selves back.
Our community suffers from double digit unemployment, our schools are failing, more of our young men are in prison than in college and we’re out there rioting. That is not who we are or what we are. Black folks, we’re better than this and we know it.
And so, yes I too am angry about what appears to be yet another senseless death of a young African-American man, and yes I am pissed off about the racism America can’t seem to shake, but black America has got to wake up. We’ve got to put an end to the foolishness and ignorance. We’re a people who endured 300 years of slavery and state sanctioned discrimination and somehow we survived and thrived. We need to pull from that inner strength when these events occur.
Imagine the anger felt when a young black boy was severely beaten and lynched for the “crime” of looking at a white woman. And even though many could have argued the death of Emmett Till should have been answered with more violence and death, our people and our community answered the hate and anger with prayers and love; we waited on the justice system even though we knew it was a farce at the time; we mounted peaceful protests and let the actions of those on the other side speak for themselves.
That’s how Brown’s death should have been answered. Imagine what would happen today if we employed the same tactics of those in the civil rights’ movement, just imagine the reaction. Instead, too often, we choose to act like fools and common hood rats, scurrying about for our next victims. Dr. King would be embarrassed.