Not So Fast Ray: Why Ray Lewis’ Criticism of ‘Black Lives Matter’ is Seriously Flawed

In what can only be termed a good intention-ed attempt to address the escalation of Black-on-Black lethal violence in urban centers such as Chicago, Illinois, former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis took to Facebook and posted an impassioned plea that called for Black males to cease the killing of their ‘brothers’.

According to an impassioned Lewis, “Why do we always find ourselvesRay Lewis 2 the victims, and now we have the separation once again that we’re being victimized because of one bad white cop, two bad white cops, three bad white cops, killing a young black brother. But every day we have black-on-black crime, killing each other?

As if that were not enough, Mr. Lewis took a significant jab at ‘Black Lives Matter’ by echoing an all too familiar criticism; that being, why has ‘Black Lives Matter’ not commented upon the repeated occurrences of Black-on-Black lethal violence. The insinuation is obvious, ‘Do Black lives only matter when they are extinguished at the hands of whites?’

Lewis queried the following, “I’m trying to figure out if black lives really matter. In Chicago alone the murder rate has soared 72 percent in 2016 — 88 percent in the first three months of 2016 compared to the last year…I know black lives matter because I’m a black man, but stop killing each other. Man, we have to put these guns down in Chicago. Baltimore, Miami, man it ain’t that hard. You have to be okay with earning a living. It ain’t supposed to be easy…If we don’t change what we’re doing not only will our kids not have a future, but we might find ourselves extinct.”

I applaud Ray Lewis for diving head first into this matter, however, his perspective, and that of others who routinely attack ‘Black Lives Matter’, although backed by bountiful loads of passion and good will is at best seriously flawed.

From the perspective of ‘Black Lives Matter’ critics, the organization should turn its focus away from the few cases of lethal violence by officers and focus upon an even bigger problem of Black males killing other Black males. Although I most certainly agree that the problem of Black-on-Black lethal violence is a much larger issue, the truth of the matter is that it is not a problem that can be solved by Black self-restraint and copious amounts of conflict resolution classes.

Black-on-Black violence is a convoluted issue that should never be solely placed at the feet of African-Americans. It is most certainly a problem that requires the full attention of the U.S. Government if it is to be ever solved.

The ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement is actually addressing an issue, officer violence against citizens that can be solved through better Black 3police training and the prosecution of rogue officers who needlessly shoot down African-American males in American streets.

The issue of Black-on-Black lethal violence is an entirely different beast with historical precedence.

Although unfashionable to state, the truth is that Black-on-Black crime and lethal violence does not have its genesis within the Black community. Hence, it is disingenuous to demand that African-Americans independently solve this pernicious evil on its own.

Despite seemingly unceasing news coverage that depicts African-American males as a peculiar criminal-minded population that this nation has never encountered before, an actual reading and comprehension of this nation’s historical record not only offers significant understanding to Black-on-Black crime and lethal violence in America’s urban centers, but also points toward a solution.

African-Americans are not the first American population to be placed in situations where there are marginal educational resources, a Black 4dearth of employment opportunities, social ostracism, and an absence of city services. The American historical record highlights several groups that lived under such a yoke (Germans, Italians, Irish, Russian, etc.) and each of these groups had their moment(s) of poverty, crime, and intra-racial lethal violence. For the vast majority of such populations, assimilation with the dominant group was their escape mechanism; such a path has historically been blocked for Blacks.

There is little doubt that poverty, lack of education, absence of employment opportunities, and nihilism invariably results in oppressed populations attacking their own during individualized pursuits of extremely limited resources.

What many are afraid to discuss is the reality that there is no gene that makes African-American males criminal-minded. Most hesitate to publicly acknowledge this fact as it would force the nation to consider a different catalyst to the rampant crime occurring in America’s central city areas, such as: the economy, a broken educational system, a political arena controlled by big money donors, and a draconian criminal justice system that routinely differentiates sentencing according to the racial background of the convicted.

Hence, the question facing the nation is a simple one. What are Americans willing to do to correct the maladies such as Black-on-Black lethal violence occurring in central city areas?

Predictably, African-Americans, like the European immigrants who found themselves ostracized prior to the culmination of World War I, the Jews during the Nazi Holocaust, and Chinese-Americans during World War II, have been attacked for their impoverished status with arguments that implicitly state that if only they tried harder, made better choices, or lived better, they would quickly be extricated from a multi-generational economic poverty that now appears to be a Biblical curse upon Black folk.

The central problem with such arguments is that individual effort has little to do with any of the catalyst behind contemporary Black politico economic poverty.

Despite this nation’s collective resistance to admit it, the issue of Black-on-Black violence is a national issue that needs to be Ray Lewis 4addressed by the U.S. Government with a modern-day Marshall Plan. Instead of dumping millions of dollars in foreign economies, such dollars should be infused into urban enclaves to address areas such as: education, job training, and business loans. There is little doubt that racial self-help programs will never be able to address the myriad interlocking problems affecting so many African-American neighborhoods.

There is no doubt that the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement could very well address the issue of Black-on-Black violence, however, their attention to this problem would in no way impact the fundamental problems affecting this nation’s urban centers. This is an issue that can only be solved with the full focus and brunt of the U.S. Government, not a citizen group struggling to be heard.

Dr. James Thomas Jones III

©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2016

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