"Where are all the black leaders and marches when a black person kills another black person in the street?"
Human beings have a favorite response to information they dislike, distrust or that discomfits. It's called deflection. Visit any website where a mixed crowd of conservatives and liberals gathers, and you'll see tons of deflection in the largely anonymous comments posted at the end of stories.
Trayvon Martin's death has not changed that fact. While many black people believe the circumstances surrounding his death provide a perfect example of how little value some people still attach to a black life, for other folks that's not even a consideration. As millions express outrage and disgust at the child's death and the police handling of the case, others quietly and loudly seethe at what they see as black America's myopic focus on race, and its impact on black lives. They just see us complaining again.
These complaints do not provoke introspection, but instead encourage avoidance. People want to avoid examining why they find it plausible that an unarmed black youth posed a life-threatening danger to an armed white man. They don't want to consider why the police have made the strange choices they've made.
Instead, many of them want to figure out exactly how this little black boy was responsible for his own death because that dovetails perfectly with their belief that this is true for most black men who die. More importantly, they are distraught that this single death has galvanized the black community and dominated the airwaves and Internet, and they grasp at straws to explain why this response is completely unjustified.
"If black people got this upset when these little thugs shot each other in the street, crime would disappear."There is persistent belief that black people like crime. We supposedly encourage and protect criminals and are always openly hostile to the kindly police just trying to do their jobs. We bring our misery upon ourselves, mainly because that's our natural state.
That belief is a part of most conversations about crime among white folks, particularly when they don't have to worry about being identified by black folks. Many of them loathe Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson only slightly more than they dislike the NAACP, so whenever Ministers INC descends upon an issue it is a clear sign that something shady is afoot. It's a clear sign that it's time to remove the benefit of the doubt.
White people, and I use that term to refer to the group as a whole not to everyone within the group, believe that if black people really wanted things to change, they would. If we didn't want drug dealers spreading their poison, it would cease. They calmly ignore the fact that their children and peers are just as likely to be addicts as ours, more likely in fact according to several reports. They ignore this fact because those addictions do not create violence, which seems to be confined largely to the neighborhoods inhabited by black folks. Clearly, it's the black folks who are the problem, not the drugs and the poverty.
This persistent certainty that we encourage, foster and cherish violence is why so many people feel the irresistible urge to bring up black-on-black crime in a discussion about the violent shooting death of an unarmed child by a man violating police commands. It's why so many people cannot help but note that if black folks didn't do so many bad things they wouldn't get treated so poorly. It's why certain folks in certain places have tried their hardest to find reasons to impune Trayvon Martin's character.
This latest tragedy cannot be the fault of American racism and discrimination because black folks bring their problems upon themselves. White folks do not need to consider the larger ramifications of this death or what it says about American culture. They do not need to consider exactly how stereotypes and assumptions can be fatal. Black people are to blame. Period.
We always have been, and we always will be.