The callous, calculated murder of the popular and talented L.A. rapper, community activist and entrepreneur Nipsey Hussle at the hands of Eric Holder, another Black man whose evil deed was captured on camera, has fueled longstanding suppositions routinely posited by the white press, white politicians, white law enforcement officials — even the majority of white Americans — as yet another example of dysfunctional Blacks and their propensity toward acts of violence.
Whenever one Black man kills another Black man, whites, whether well-intentioned or more biased, card-carrying members of the “alt-right,” frequently cite America’s so-called ongoing dilemma of Black-on-Black crime as the cause. Given the proliferation of media reports, it’s easy to agree with the rhetoric of Blacks being more inherently prone toward violence and less capable than other races, whites serving as the bastion of excellence, to peacefully co-exist in society. Indeed, most Blacks, so we’re told, continue to prove that we’re mentally troubled, emotionally unbalanced and genetically inferior to the melanin-deficient, more enlightened, intellectual astute and erudite residents of the planet Earth who adamantly refuse to relinquish the power, prestige and privilege they’ve captured and maintained for so long — that is, white folk.
But no one talks about white-on-white crime, even though they’re just as prevalent — alive, well and deadly in American society. Consider the FBI’s uniform crime-reporting data for 2016 which shows that 90.1 percent of Black homicide victims were killed by other Blacks, closely followed by a rate of 83.5 — the percentage of white-on-white crimes. In other words, most victims of crime, as in the case of Nipsey Hussle, know their assailant, regardless of race.
Experts called upon to analyze such occurrences, including sociologists and criminologists, concur that violent crime is a complicated socioeconomic phenomenon having far less to do with race than with access to wealth — that is dollars and cents or the lack thereof. Simply stated, it’s poverty that drives people by a 2:1 margin to commit crime. They, who belong to a long history of people living in squalor, overwhelmed by disease and want, the recipients of substandard education — prime candidates to become the frequent visitors and inhabitants of America’s highly-profitable prison industrial complex. It’s poverty which most effectively leads to the demoralization of one’s spirit and mind, diminishing the ability to dream or even believe in the remote possibility of a brighter future. Unlike Little Orphan Annie, those trapped in poverty, disproportionately represented by those who are Black, cannot fathom a world in which “the sun will come out tomorrow.”
I cannot say with certainty what led Nipsey Hussle’s murderer to pull the trigger. Perhaps it had something to do with an argument gone bad. Perhaps. But I tend to believe that in this case, as in so many others, the shooter took aim because he could not see his own life ever reflecting the celebrated rise of accomplishments that Hussle in his short life had already achieved. Instead, life remained a cataclysmic, downward spiral, dominated by frustration, repeated failure and countless closed doors. Envy and jealously drove him, I wager, to the brink.
Once in a great while, the Black community takes pause in its discovery of one among us who has turned their back on committing destructive actions, embracing a new attitude in which they seek to perform acts of kindness, becoming a positive force within their community — one who cares about the “least of these.” When these shining stars appear, we must protect them at all costs, particularly from those for whom hope has been reduced to little more than a stranger in the night.
Perhaps the reflections of Langston Hughes as elucidated in his seminal poem, “Dream Deferred,” more effectively summarizes the crisis of paralyzing despair, fueled by excessive greed and avarice — “man’s inhumanity to man” — which have collectively, effectively and efficiently plagued and thwarted even the basic needs and desires of Blacks families and communities, both here in America and beyond, for hundreds if not thousands of years.
“What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore — And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over —
Like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags
Like a heavy load. Or does it explode?”