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Black Mothers: Sick and Tired Yet?
11/20/2013 12:35:15 PM

By Barney Blakeney

While watching the news the other day at the watering hole on King Street, the proprietor looked up with one of those blank expressions on his face and announced, “I’m tired of hearing about our young boys getting killed.” The next day word that another young Black man had been gunned down reached me at a friend’s house uptown. Someone who came in said there had been a shooting death on the Charleston peninsula’s Eastside. I later learned that 22-year-old Rhakym Capers had been gunned down on Martin Park near Jackson Street.

Two 17-year-old Black boys have been arrested and charged with murder in connection with the shooting. When will the killing stop? As they say, I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. But I don’t see any immediate end to the slaughter of young Black men.

So far this year there have been six homicides in Charleston. Four victims have been Black males. In North Charleston there have been 13. With few exceptions the victims have been Black males.

Black on Black crime. I learned that phrase back in the 1980s as then Charleston City Councilman Robert Ford and others sought to address the phenomena. Though the numbers of Black on Black homicides fluctuates from year to year, the bottomline remains the same - wholesale slaughter of young Black males.

Personally, I’m convinced there’s been no real effort to reduce the slaughter. There’s a reason for everything, and I’m convinced there’s a reason for the slaughter. If you want to kill the tree, break the sap. With the most recent murder, three more young Black men have been removed from mainstream society.

In this society Black males are obsolete. Black males aren’t necessary for physical labor and the competition for the technical positions is fierce enough among white males. I think that’s also the reason there’s no real effort to educate young Black males.

The development of the prison industrial complex has created a practical use for Black males - they’re about 70 percent of the prison population. But even the prison industrial complex can’t consume all the obsolete Black males. So just as our society culls herds of deer, alligator and mustang horses a system that allows the culling of Black males has been developed. It’s called Black on Black crime. Our community conducts intellectual and politically correct discussions about remedies, but I don’t think there’s a real effort to stop the madness. Just as there’s no real effort to address substance and illegal drugs in this country, because it all facilitates a social and economic agenda.

Black folks must address the fratricide that plaques our community. Those are our sons being slaughtered. Nobody else gives a good gotdang that Black males are dying by the hundreds on the streets of America.

Sure there are some who empathize about the slaughter, but just as most of America sat back and enjoyed the benefits of slavery despite its horror, America will tolerate Black on Black crime.

One of the things I find bewildering about this dynamic in American history is how Black mothers so easily accept the fate that their sons will become fodder in an unjust system that targets so many for destruction.

When I was a teenager, my mom who was a single parent raising four bad kids, came into my room, sat on my bed and gave me the “Growing Up Black man” talk. She told me that she wasn’t getting me out of jail for any reason other than having to protect myself.

She said I had to protect my self, but I didn’t have to steal, sell drugs or do any of the things that would send me to jail other than protecting myself. I couldn’t look for my mother’s support if I committed a crime or went to jail. I couldn’t bring ill-begotten gains into my mother’s house. She wouldn’t accept anything I gave her that wasn’t obtained legally and justly. She made me take back the bicycle I bought from my friend Fox because she figured it was stolen.

I’m no saint, I’ve heard that cell door slam behind me. But I’ve never gone to jail for anything it didn’t take a phone call to get me out. But I never called my mother. Mama didn’t play that mess. Whatever I did, I had to fix on my own. So I never did anything so far off the path she set me on, I couldn’t find my way back.

I had this discussion with a friend recently. She said father’s also have a responsibility. That’s true, but mother’s gave birth to those Black boy babies. You were the ones we kicked in the stomach in the middle of the night. You changed our skitty diapers. We took out first steps toward you. It was your voice we responded to before we had any consciousness.

Black mothers must step up to the plate. You are our first and most influential teachers. Just as white women mounted the very successful Mothers Against Drunk Drivers campaign, perhaps Black mothers should mount a similar campaign against Black on Black crime. I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired. Are you, Black mother, also sick and tired?

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