Confronting the enemy within
John W. Fountain July 24, 2013 5:28PM
Updated: August 26, 2013 4:18PM
Where do we go from here?
Amid marches for justice for Trayvon Martin, amid cries for justice for one, the headlines still scream bloody murder for many: “Man shot to death in West Pullman garage.” “Six dead, 22 wounded in weekend gun violence.”
The children still die. Their blood cries. Gunshots crack, like thunder, on summer days. And peace and safety in some Chicago neighborhoods, mostly poor and black and brown, is a game of cat and mouse.
No Zimmerman to blame here. It is us, mostly. Us.
And yet, “we” generally fail to confront the enemy within. An enemy that lies in the cradle — miscarried, mishandled, miseducated by far too many adults. An enemy that looks like us. That lives with us and among us. A homegrown enemy raised by us and that too often preys on us.
The enemy, which, according to U.S. Bureau of Justice statistics, is largely responsible, from 1976 through 2005, for the murders of 12,658 Trayvon Martins (black boys, ages 14 to 17) — nearly twice the number of U.S. lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In fact, across America, from 1976 to 2010 — a 34-year-period — the number of murdered black males 14 and older: 243,996. The number of murdered black females: 51,892. The number of black males and females murdered: 295,893.
It is, so far, an endless narrative of mostly us killing us. But where is our outrage?
It is easier, my grandmother used to say, to point the finger than to point the thumb — than to look in the mirror.
Racism exists. I bear the scars. Racism is always blowing, like the wind. Sometimes it slaps you coldly in the face. Its impact is historic, lasting, tangible. But racism alone will never destroy a people united to overcome it.
So even if there are those who would deny its existence, it must not negate our role and power in determining a better life, a better existence for this generation and the next in the same hope and spirit of those who once marched for freedom.
In these times, however, I suspect it will take new strategies. But if we must march, let us begin by marching toward brotherly love, toward teaching our children to respect themselves, to respect one another, and the sanctity of human life, teaching them that what really makes a male a man is his willingness to assume responsibility.
Let us march to street corners, where our sons and brothers linger as drug dealers and gangbangers, and let us stand — and pray — and show them a better way. If we march, then let us march in service to our community.
And if we sit in, let us sit in on PTO meetings, on classrooms and read to poor boys and girls to snatch them from the throes of the school-to-prison pipeline.
Still, the question begs: Where do we go from here?
The answer is simple: In the prophetic words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: toward chaos or toward community.
I say we march toward community — our best hope