The answer to the question posed in this post’s title is nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not one thing. Nada. Zip. Zero.
The “Black-on-Black crime” moniker is racist rhetoric functioning under the guise of concern for the state of Black America. People of all races — Blacks included — seemingly love to discuss how not killing our own and being more respectable will alleviate the effects of racism.
It’s dangerous, however, to tell Black people to dress better, work harder or be respectable because it diverts attention from the gaze of the oppressor to the behavior of the disenfranchised. It showcases how deep anti-blackness runs within our society. This highly misinformed line of thinking negates the complex historical implications surrounding a white cop killing an unarmed Black teenager.
Authority has a long history of not respecting Black people so why some folks think becoming more respectable will solve anything is confusing. Our respect means nothing to those who see no value in Black life. They don’t care for or want our respect — they want our compliance. They want our submission.
“Black-on-Black crime” highlights the fear surrounding Black masculinity, the lack of Black femininity, and perceived inherent Black criminality. And, when Black people are shamed for committing the same crimes at almost the same rates as whites, it illustrates how much the white supremacist gaze has been internalized.
The term, which originated in the 1980s, cites Black people as a problem as opposed to poverty, poor educational opportunities, proximity and other factors that lead to increased crime rates within all communities — regardless of color.
Research conducted by David Wilson explains how the media picked up on a new wave of violence within Black communities — which was undoubtedly fueled by job loss, debased identity and “rampant physical decay”– and constructed the misperception that intraracial crime was a malady only plaguing Black America.
But racial exclusivity is apparent in the majority of violent crimes. Around 91 percent of Black victims are murdered by Black offenders while 83 percent of white victims are killed by another white person, based on the most recent FBI homicide statistics.
The “Black-on-Black” crime argument alludes that there’s nothing normal about Black intraracial crime. “White-on-white” violence is simply called crime. Why is Black intraracial violence depicted as some rare Pokémon in crime discussions when it is only slightly more prevalent?
Flawed white perception is not assuaged is these talks — Black behavior is, instead, attacked. This places Black folk in a “Catch 22.” No matter how “respectable” we are or become, as long as our skin is Black we will never amount to white standards though we are expected to be a reflection of them.
Respectability will never be a solution because the issue isn’t us; it’s how white America views blackness.
Mike Brown’s death, and the subsequent lack of justice, isn’t about the myth of “Black-on-Black crime.” It’s about how Blacks are disproportionately, and often unjustly, targeted by law enforcement. It’s about how systemic racism frames the way in which Black people, especially men, are viewed. It’s about how Black corpses are criminalized and put on trial but their white killers often go unindicted.
The circumstances surrounding Mike Brown’s death represent a much larger racially oppressive government and police structure that excuses white killers but refuses to humanize black victims due to the inherent guilt attributed to black people and blackness.
And when you tell Black people to be more respectable and not kill one another, you’re identifying us as savage brutes who deserve to be gunned down due to this assumed lack of humanity.
The protests in Ferguson do not show the supposed intrinsic animalistic nature of Black people. They showcase a community — and reflect a nation of people — tired of constantly being at the mercy of a justice system that sees no value in their livelihood.
Ferguson is illustrating what happens when people are fed up with being targeted. Ferguson is spearheading a movement. Stop detracting from that with baseless “Black-on-Black crime” discussions.