I know the expression is “all’s fair in love and war” but there always seemed to be some “rules of engagement about what kinds of behavior was clearly out of bounds. If someone killed a woman or child we almost always assumed either an accidental murder or some mental or emotional distress. Sometimes these murders are called what we term, “crimes of passion” that result when people are unhappy about a breakup or are in the midst of custody battles. We assume the stress of these life challenges causes some people to “snap” and do terrible, horrible things. This is not about excusing behavior; it’s about trying to understand it.
But, in this particular moment we find ourselves in, we are seeing another phenomenon that I am at a loss to understand or explain. People have decided that the way to get their cause advanced is to kill all the women and/or kill all the children. We have seen it in Nigeria with the abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls. We have seen it in the Mexico with the abduction (and presumed deaths) of 43 schoolboys. And now, we have seen it in Pakistan with the massacre of 145 mostly schoolchildren. Whatever happened to “save the children” or “our children are our future” or “we must protect our babies?” These stories bring waves of nausea over me. I cannot imagine a world where we think the wholesale murder of children is okay.
But the truth is I’ve already accepted such a world. The difference is the children in my society are typically being murdered one at a time. But, like the examples listed above the children are unarmed and those that kill them carry authority and power. Most of us know the names of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice. Some may know the names of Oscar Grant, Jordan Davis, and Sean Bell. But how many know:
– Kimani Gray – 16 years old, shot 3 times in the back in Brooklyn, NY
– Kendrec McDade – 19 years old, college student, shot in Pasadena, CA and left on the street without receiving first aid for an extended period of time
– Timothy Russell and Malessa Williams – received 137 rounds shot in their car in Cleveland, OH
– Erwin Jefferson – 18 years old, Atlanta, GA
– Wendell Allen – 20 years old, New Orleans, LA
– Ramarley Graham – 18 years old, New York, NY
Each of these young people was found to be unarmed, but died at the hand of police or security officers. They represent a small number of the young people I found but were all within the last 2 years. I wanted us to see the dangerous parallel between the mass murder of children around the world and the “serial mass murder” of young Black people right here at home.
If we are willing to kill children (some as young as 12) and absolve their killers from any responsibility for taking their lives how are we any better than those around the world who take out whole groups of children? Are we better because we do it one at a time? Are we better because we claim we have “cause” to kill them? “After all,” we rationalize, “these people were alleged criminals.” They were stealing cigars. They were wearing a hoodie. They were brandishing a toy gun. They were playing loud music. They made an armed police officer fear for his life. They looked “suspicious.” But, let’s face it…they were all Black!
I guess the only choice we have is to do like the man on the Facebook meme said…”Hide your wife, hide your kids!”
Stay Black & Smart!