clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

John Fountain: Confront the evil of violence by us against us

Demonstrators calling for an end to gun violence in a downtown Chicago march on Dec. 31, 2015. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Dead is dead.

A mother whose child is murdered by a black thug grieves no less than a mother whose child was murdered by a white rogue cop. But one gets considerably less public attention than the other. Not only from the media, or Black Lives Matter, but also from us: African Americans.

One galvanizes hundreds to protest on Main Street America. The other might stir a relative few marchers on the other side of the tracks. Most often the fervency fizzles.

And even the faithful few will privately admit that the call to action over the slaying of us by us most often falls on deaf ears. Some march. Many won’t. Most don’t. Not that marching alone is the answer. It isn’t.


But the sad truth is that our community is not in a perpetual state of mourning over the genocidal slaying of African Americans by African Americans — over this perennial death of dreams and human loss and suffering. We have not yet determined in our collective black consciousness that we have now reached a state of emergency.

There is no mass sense of urgency. Not within our churches. Not within our communities at large. Not until murder slaps our front doorstep like the morning newspaper.

I get it. Systemic issues. Poverty, oppression, racism…

It is easier to look at the enemy without than to deal with the enemy within. To seek faulty prescriptions rather than engage in the hard work of healing ourselves and grasping self-determination by its reins.

What if the cavalry or a new government check never arrives? Why do we look to our so-called oppressor to set us free?

Why do we deny the power within to choose to love one another rather than succumbing to the pathology of self-hate?

Nearly 48 years after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. passed on to us all “The Dream,” the struggle continues. And there is no greater human rights violation than denying thousands slain nationwide each year the right to live.

The Black Lives Matter movement has a glaring failure. It fails to recognize that even as we must wage a nonviolent war against state-sanctioned abuse and murder, we must simultaneously confront the evil of violence by us against us that each year claims infinitely more lives.

In 2015, Chicago police recorded 473 homicides — nearly 80 percent of them black. Translation: One person murdered every 18 hours — the vast majority by gunshot. Not from a white cop. But historically — in cases of black victims —records show, most often by someone black.

The number of Chicago shooting victims in 2015 overall: nearly 3,000, some reports show. About eight a day. One every three hours.

It is easier to point the finger than to confront the murderous stare in the faces of our own sons who have become the terrorists who hold our neighborhoods hostage and make our streets run red with our own blood.

From 1976 to 2005, according to Bureau of Justice Statistics, 295,893 black males and females ages 14 and older were victims of homicide, 9 out of 10 murdered by someone black.

That toll is more than the combined U.S. losses in World War I, the Vietnam War, the Korean and Mexican-American wars, the War of 1812 and the American Revolutionary War.

Truth? My black sons and I are more likely to be murdered not by a white cop, but by someone who looks just like us.

And yet, one victim would be counted worthy of garnering a moment in the media spotlight and in the current Black Lives Matter movement. One would not. And why not?

Dead is dead.


Follow the Editorial Board on Twitter: Follow @csteditorials

Tweets by @CSTeditorials

Send letters to