When the Black Community Falls Silent: Young Black Men and Crime

I read two stories over the past week that made me very angry for a variety of reasons. The first story was about 17-year-old Charles…

When the Black Community Falls Silent: Young Black Men and Crime
Photo by Beth Tate on Unsplash

I read two stories over the past week that made me very angry for a variety of reasons. The first story was about 17-year-old Charles Macklin a young black teen killed by a Chicago fire lieutenant with a concealed carry permit. The young man had hoped into the fire chief’s running car in an attempt to steal it. When confronted, Macklin refused to get out of the car, and made an attempt to escape with the vehicle. The fire lieutenant shot into the car, killing Macklin. You’re only supposed to fire your weapon when you believe your life is in imminent danger, not simply to protect your property. Apparently, the fire lieutenant stepped in front of the car before shooting in an effort to get the young man to return his property.

Macklin’s last words were, “Sorry, bro,” according to the police report. The teen died on the pavement.

The fire chief was not arrested or charged ,and he was not disciplined by his fire department. The state’s attorney found no reason to charge. There was no wrongdoing as far as the law was concerned.

On this day, the young man made a bad choice, a choice that cost him his life.

The second story was a story about a beautiful young, Black woman named Porsha Owens who was killed while taking her children to daycare; a victim of a failed carjacking attempt. She was a school district resource officer. She was killed by 18-year-old Mark Haywood, another young Black teenager. Haywood demanded her car and money before he killed her.

Owens’ three children, who witnessed her murder, are aged 3 to 8 years old. These children will be traumatized no doubt for the rest of their lives because a fucking animal decided to wake up and do evil instead of doing good.

Where’s the outrage Black people? Your silence is deafening!

The Black community is soft on young Black men committing crimes. Often times it seems we speak out the loudest when police misconduct or racism is involved in the event. Where are our outrage, and our voices, when we are being victimized by our own people. A young Black mother can’t take her three children to day care without being robbed or killed.

Where is the outrage?

Why are Black people quiet when it comes to young Black men committing crimes, including murdering young Black women? Why can’t we do better?

No one is advocating for the Black mother and school resource officer that was killed by a Black teenager. If she had been killed by a White cop, the story would be breaking the internet. Black folks would be sharing it, causing it to go viral. Our timelines would be poppin with commentary. But when a Black person is killed by a badass delinquent Black teen, there is silence. Why is that? Why is there little accountability for us when we harm our own?

Why is it that none of our Black Lives Matter mouthpieces speak out truthfully, minus the excuses, about the harm some Black teens, are causing to our communities, to our mothers, to our own Black children? Shaun King, Tavis Smiley, Cornell West, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Michael Eric Dyson, Reverend Al, Tom Joyner, Rickey Smiley, Steve Harvey, the Breakfast Club? President Obama? Anybody?


Do our lives only matter when White people do harm to us, accidentally or intentionally?

Black teens out here just causing all manners of mayhem and fuckery. Black men, the same Black men who are supposed to lead our communities and fight for injustices, are eerily silent on matters like these. If not silent, then offering the same old excuses for bad choices and bad behavior like poverty, no dad, bad schools, no jobs in their communities, coming from single-parent households, etc. The usual bullshit pushed to us by statisticians.

Why is owning our shit so hard?

They didn’t have a father we say. Except for plenty of people don’t have fathers and it doesn’t cause them to be a criminal. They were poor we will shout, except plenty of people were poor of all races, and they never once thought of stealing or causing harm to anyone. They were in foster care, their pappy wasn’t worth a shit, they were special needs, they went to inferior schools, and blah, blah, blah. We are always in a state of denial, and it’s costing us Black lives every single day.

Some young people make fucked up choices, just like the two Black teens. Both of them woke up and decided they would rather take someone else's money and property than go out and earn money honestly to get their own shit.

Both of these young men were willing to hurt people. One of these young men had so much evil in his heart that he could kill a mother in front of her three kids. Did he have so much hate for women or his own mother that he didn’t care? While I’m sure there is a story behind the madness of both stories, the simple fact is that these two young men made bad choices. At some point, their lives took a wrong turn. In each of these situations, their bad choices impacted someone else's life in an instant and their own.

We see these kids running around our communities every single day, and we ignore them. They aren’t our problem. Black people, your children are going to school with these kids every day. They are the kids who present disciplinary problems to all of their teachers. They are the same kids who distract and disrupt classrooms until they get kicked out of school. These young Black teens may have even committed crimes as juveniles and may have had opportunities to make better choices. They may even be dabbling with drugs. All the signs were there, and yet when the same young people and commit an atrocity in their own community, no one says a negative word about that.

And yet Black people will not speak one negative word about these instances. When we make the conscious decision to ignore or parcel truth, we are practicing self-deception. Black people, we have become masters of self-deception.

Ignoring truth is simply a way of avoiding the truth. Apparently, Black folks have come to believe that life will be easier to live if we keep our attention averted from the unpalatable fact that sometimes our own Black lives don’t matter to us much. We seem to care when other folks harm us, but we turn a blind eye when we harm each other.

It’s like the Black community has Stockholm Syndrome and trauma bonds. Basically, Black communities have formed a special Black bond with Black men who bring harm to us as a form of survival. According to a Special Report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics on violent crime released in October of 2017, in the majority of violent victimizations, Black victims’ offenders were Black 63% of the time. That means nobody harms Black people quite like Black people y'all! None of the Black spokespeople will tell us that though.

We have developed a weird sort of psychological allegiance to these men as a survival strategy. While living in our neighborhoods is not necessarily seen as captivity, when people can’t move away from these neighborhoods due to poverty it can be seen as a form of captivity.

We are in a vicious cycle of cultivating, harboring and enabling those that plan to do harm to us.

Two families of two black men will have to live with the consequences of their actions for the rest of their lives, and there is no outrage. No marches. No rallies. No angry riots or protests. Just silence.

Remaining silent is wrong.

Black silence is Black consent.

It’s cosigning juvenile delinquency.

It’s saying it’s okay to not only harm our own, but it’s also okay to harm others.

It’s consent to not caring about Black women, Black mothers, and your own Black communities. Our communities are left vulnerable, uncovered, and unprotected.

Silence is passing the buck, shifting the problem and blame elsewhere.

It’s a failure to take responsibility.

When we are silent on matters like these while loud and vigilante on matters concerning the harm that comes to us at the hand of other ethnic groups, we give license to more of the same.

This silence is not okay.

Be fair in your shouting, or be quiet altogether.

Stop protecting abusers and perpetrators of crimes because they look like us. Stop standing by idly waiting on some Black savior or government intervention to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. It’s not going to happen! It’s time to address our trauma. Let’s deal with our Stockholm Syndrome moment. It’s bad, and it’s blatantly obvious.

Black people should be as angry and vocal about the Black teen killing the Black mom/sheriff as they are outraged and vocal when the Black person is beaten or killed by the police. Because it’s clearly evident that we’re not, I’m forced to question my Black alliances and allegiances.

Do Black lives really matter to Black people, or do they only matter when White people harm us?

I can’t hear you for the silence.