The historical experiences of stolen Africans on the North American continent can best be summed up by the title of one of Jay-Z’s albums, Hard Knock Life. The treatment of African-Americans has served as the foremost indicator of American hypocrisy from the moment of their arrival in the Jamestown colony. America’s darker brother has been maligned, brutalized, raped, and lynched in ‘the land of the free and home of the brave’.
Considering their peculiar second-class citizenship status, African-Americans have become adept at responding to a hostile white community at a moments’ notice. Experience had taught every person of African descent on the North American continent that their time to deal with the hostility and brutality of marauding whites could come not only at any moment, but also without the slightest provocation. Considering such a context, African-Americans developed mechanisms to protect themselves and their loved ones from hostile outsiders. One of the most prominent adaptation was for them to become insular as a community; meaning that they closed off the hostile outside world in a desperate attempt to protect their own; particularly the men who were most likely to be seized and lynched by a white mob for a perceived offense or challenge emanating from either that particular individual or the community in general.
Unfortunately, the alluded to ‘lynch mob’ pursuing African-American males was often led by law enforcement officers; sheriff, police, patty rollers, constables, overseers, deputies. Hence, it should not be surprising that the average African-American male tenses up when in the presence of ‘law enforcement’ officers to this present day. Too often it appears as if the law that is being enforced is detrimental to our existence. Consequently, the staunch position of not cooperation that the vast majority of African-Americans assumed in regards to ‘law enforcement’ officers is absolutely understandable. One would be hard-pressed to convince African-Americans that ‘law enforcement’ officers are not continuing this tradition in the twenty-first century.
However, this tradition of not cooperating with ‘law enforcement’ officers has been seized by a criminal element within our community for opportunistic reasons. An immoral and unlawful element within our community has publicly demanded silence regarding their criminal activities and uncivilized behavior. I actually applaud this population for the manner in which they have been able to seize a historic cultural adaptation and use it as a cover for their evil doings; unfortunately, Hip Hop Culture has been the perfect conduit for this transference of misinformation.
Although their mantra that ‘snitches get stitches’ is rather poetic in a ghetto fabulous kind of way, it betrays the solidarity that generations of African-Americans displayed against a hostile external enemy. The actions and activities of the criminal element within our midst is having the same effect that marauding white terrorist had throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries respectively. The only difference is that the criminal element in our midst begs us to not report them to the proper authorities. However, one must take their hat off to this thuggish element when you consider that they have been able to get such values integrated into our cultural diet and belief system. We now find elementary school children attempting to “persuade” their peers to ‘not snitch’, often via violent attacks that they are amazingly filming and posting on the internet.
Obviously, the mantra ‘snitches get stitches’ has no place within our community and serves as yet another example of how we have truly lost our way. Of all the things that we need to be poetic about, lawlessness and criminality are not on that list.
This is not a call for the African-American community to abandon its vigilance against the virulent attacks that seem to follow them where ever they go, we must be vigilant against the evil-doers who are attacking our community and ‘bringing the community down’ from where ever they come from. A philosophy that should terrify those Negroes within our midst who commit crime and live in an uncivilized manner that is unreflective of how African-Americans have ever lived.
It may be time for law abiding African-Americans to counter the poetic ghetto phrase of ‘snitches get stitches’ with one of our own for the cowards who believe that their criminal exploits will be ignored by respectable, empowered, and righteous African-Americans. Maybe we should invoke a saying for criminal minded males who roam our community with crime on their mind and their pants sagging below any level of decency with a mantra of ‘In prison they make bitches, so be sure to lower your britches.’
Stop Black-on-Black violence, ‘by any means necessary.’ Our babies need a safe place to grow up. #MRC
Dr. James Thomas Jones III