They Say That It’s The White Man that I Should Fear,
but it’s My Own Kind Doing All The Killing Here!
— TUPAC AMARU SHAKUR —
Eight months ago, I penned the following words in this space.
One of the most disturbing crimes that I have recently read about was the murder of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee in an alley on the South Side of Chicago in a neighborhood called Auburn-Gresham. Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy succinctly summed up this incident when he referred to it as “…an act of barbarism, the assassination of a 9-year-old child as a gang retaliation to get back at his father. Tyshawn Lee was failed on many, many levels.”
Merely recognizing the sheer barbarity of this act that extends from earlier conflict involving Tyshawn’s father does nothing to correct the stupefying socioeconomic issues affecting Black Chicagoans or the African-American community in general.
Court papers highlight that this murder was a direct extension of gang warfare. Authorities believe that rival gang warfare reached an unprecedented level after the death of reputed gang member Corey Morgan’s brother and the wounding of his mother. The attack apparently made Morgan blood-thirsty for revenge as he allegedly told fellow gang members “…that since his brother was killed and his mama was shot he was going to kill grandmas, mamas, kids and all.”
Less than a year ago, I was writing about the senseless death of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee, today I am pondering what it means that Nykea Aldridge, 32, a mother of four and the cousin of NBA superstar Dwayne Wade was murdered while pushing a child in a baby stroller down a street attempting to make it to a school to register her children for school at 3:30 p.m. Friday. Apparently, her two killers, whose bullets struck Aldridge in the head and arm, were aiming at an undisclosed African-American male. There is no doubt that the only thing that makes Nykea Aldridge any different from the other 2,600+ people that have been shot in the American city that has earned the moniker of Chiraq and 463 people who have been murdered in the ‘Windy City’ is her relation to Dwyane Wade.
The problems facing Chicago are neither new, nor fleeting. They are as permanent as the skyscrapers that make up the skyline. The foremost question regarding the historic pattern of African-American males killing one another is why has this occurred? The only reasonable answer to this query is that there is a woeful lack of understanding regarding what a man ought to be and ought to do in the ‘Windy City’.
When you really think about it, the blessing and the curse of humanity is that they are social beings. Put simply, the influence of socialization upon the development of human beings is so phenomenal that it literally determines who they will become and what they will come to value throughout their entire existence.
The reality that we learn everything we know, or at least what we think we know, shines an unbelievably negative light upon the construction of Manhood ideology for a significant portion of African-American males within the ‘Windy City’. The present state of Black Chicagoan young Black males is one of the most obvious examples of what occurs when our community fails to teach African-American males ‘what a Man ought to be and ought to do’. When left to their own devices, young African-American males invariably develop a manhood culture that centers upon hyper-aggressiveness, ends-justify-the-means economic formulations, sullenness, promiscuity, offensive language and inappropriate dress; not to mention a dire hostility regarding the development of the mind.
Unfortunately for the African-American community, ignorance is not a trend; rather it replicates itself at an alarming exponential rate. History indicates that once ignorance arrives, it is darn near impossible to reverse its damaging affect. The aforementioned logic is quite possibly the only explanation of Black Chicagoans killing each other in gangland style murders for as far back as anyone can remember. The following chart lists the number of murders that have occurred in Chicago between the years of 2001 – 2014.
|YEAR||MURDERS IN CHICAGO|
|TOTAL||6,750 MURDERS — 482+ MURDERS/YEAR|
Although it is one of the most difficult things to admit as an African-American male who fights against the characterization of younger African-American males as uncivilized thugs with a predisposition toward criminality, I now understand that there is a significant population of African-American males whose socialization flows from a dysfunctional culture that rests upon woefully flawed manhood constructs.
There is no other explanation for the motives behind the actions of those Black males that murdered Tyshawn Lee eight months ago and Nykea Aldridge this past Friday. The types that murdered Lee and Aldridge have grown out of a dysfunctional culture with what could only be termed a terrible understanding of ‘what a man ought to be and ought to do’.
Situations such as that occurring in Chicago definitively display how far African-American males have fallen from their rightful place as the protectors of their community against external aggression. All too often we are the aggressors that make our community nearly inhabitable for Black men, women, and children.
Although the killing of African-American men by white law enforcement officers has dominated the newspaper headlines for quite a period now, the bigger story is the alarming rate that we are killing each other in American streets. Every major city has its own story regarding senseless genocidal killings within their local African-American communities. The fact that we are not discussing this matter with the same vigor that we are attacking killings that are occurring at the hands of law enforcement officers reveals much about the value that our community fails to place upon Black lives.
It is time that we take responsibility for ourselves, our children, and our communities. Although difficult to accept, it appears that we are one of our foremost enemies and it is past time that we definitively address the enemy within ‘by any means necessary’.
James Thomas Jones III
©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2015.