Baltimore is just the latest city it’s happened to; who’s next? An unarmed Black man dies, apparently at the hands of police officers and protests follow, becoming more violent as time goes by and police stonewall or deny culpability. Community leaders appeal for calm and national figures weigh in…
“But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”
Sound familiar? The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote these words nearly 50 years ago but they apply perfectly to the events of the past few weeks and months. It’s sad how, with all the progress that’s been made, these very important things still have not changed. Baltimore, Ferguson, Brooklyn; it could be any number of American cities or towns. The slogan “Black Lives Matter,” is everywhere. But DO Black Lives Matter – to Blacks? Every time I see video, often recorded by the perpetrators, of another vicious attack on a subway platform by young Black men against other young Black men, of a young Black woman being beat down by a group of other young Black women, another shooting, another stabbing, I wonder how we can reasonably expect them to treat us better than we treat each other. Oh, yes, police abuse must be stopped and guilty officers prosecuted, but the question remains; how can we be respected when we can’t seem to respect ourselves?
Maybe when Black Lives Matter more to Blacks, they’ll matter more to others. Ya’ think?