Sometimes in a relationship, usually a not-so-great one, one person refuses to acknowledge yet another flaw or mistake because the other person refuses to acknowledge any. That is where we are with race in America today, particularly relations between black people and white people.
Yesterday, my soon-to-be grandmother-in-law was singing the praises of Peggy Hubbard, a black woman from Belleville, Illinois who appeared on Sean Hannity last week to castigate the Black Lives Matter movement for highlighting police brutality while basically ignoring black-on-black crime. My soon-to-be grandmother in-law received an email about Peggy. She had never heard a black person criticize the black community before, and wondered why so many black folks choose to focus on police brutality rather than the soaring murder rate in Chicago that is overwhelmingly the result black-on-black crime. She seemed to have missed the comments of Barack Obama, Al Sharpton, Don Lemon, Jesse Jackson, not to mention black conservatives everywhere, which were aimed at addressing the epidemic.
In my opinion, and experience, most black people are genuinely concerned about black-on-black crime. It touches our family and friends, and affects our property value. However, liberal black people might talk about their concern more openly and fervently if they felt they could trust white people to end racial injustice and police brutality. Let's be real here, white conservatives will seize on anything to maintain the status quo, which enshrines white supremacy. I suppose it's logical. Scapegoats are convenient and work is hard enough. It's great to not have to deal with your race when applying for a job or working at the office. It's great to not have to worry about your race when a cop pulls you over. It's great to not have to prove basic intelligence because people automatically assume you are of superior intelligence because of your race. And it's great to be naturally associated with the most successful of your race rather than the least successful of your race. I mean, what is black authenticity if not ghetto realness?
It is in the interest of white conservatives to avoid fair competition by preserving these privileges, and that is the primary reason why Fox News will continue to pander to them by talking about black-on-black crime rather than police brutality. If Fox News made police brutality their concern, they would inevitably be led to crime statistics, which would inevitably lead them to poverty statistics, which would inevitably lead to employment discrimination, education disparities and the unequal treatment of black and brown people in the justice system. Fox News and their audience don't want to do anything about those issues.
At every turn on issues that, if addressed, would reduce the number of black men on the streets embracing a life of crime, conservatives have fought progress. There may be money for another useless warplane white working-class men get paid to build, but there is never enough money to overhaul inner-city schools. We can subsidize Big Agribusiness and Big Oil that soybean and oil barons fatten off of, but asking them to raise the minimum wage is sacrilege. Instead of talking about the fact that more whites than blacks use narcotics, but more blacks than whites go to prison for it; or the fact that in conservative states a black man is three times more likely to receive the death penalty than a white man for the same crime; or the fact that we have private prisons that make obscene profits from warehousing poor black and brown men for committing nonviolent crimes, conservatives would rather discuss President Barack Obama's birth certificate.
White conservatives would rather discuss Obama's birth certificate or Beyonce and Jay-Z's marriage or black-on-black crime than real issues because the Fox News audience are convinced they benefit from the polices that oppress black and brown people. At best, by deporting Latinos, working-class whites benefit from keeping a lock on labor jobs. In the least, keeping black and brown children in failing schools maintains the fallacious idea that white people are superior. Unfortunately for white conservatives, the reality of a global economy, where shareholders can pay workers $1.36 per day in China, is revealing race for what it truly is: an illusion. The Almighty Dollar has been and will always be more important to the rich than any allegiance to tribe and race. That is the case with rich people of every race and culture.
Black people may also be reluctant to lay down the cause of police brutality and racial injustice because 60% of black people live a middle-class life or better. Those black people who have nothing to do with crime, and never have, are subjected to same racial-profiling from police that criminals are. Furthermore, the accomplishments of the black middle-class are often dismissed as acts of Affirmative Action, a.k.a. reverse racism; and black folks working in corporate America are too often subjected to racism. Speaking from personal experience, we have to overlook racial jokes and insults in order to succeed. This reality may influence many blacks to focus their attention on racial injustice rather than black-on-black crime.
Perhaps black people will focus exclusively on eradicating black-on-black crime when white people focus exclusively on eradicating white supremacy. Until then, black folks will continue to focus on both issues, and make changing the policies and practices that contribute to crime in the black community a priority. No doubt, black people have work to do in our forgotten communities. However, conservatives have just as much work to do in changing the straight white male hegemony in our institutions, media, and corporations.