Lateral Violence in the Black Community
by J.S. (11th), non-fiction
Has it ever occurred to anyone that BlackLivesMatter should also be sending a message about violence to the black community? Why is it that when it comes to big impacts of violence such as the Parkland shooting in Florida, everyone seems to stop and pay ATTENTION by putting themselves in situations to where their voice is being heard, but, when it comes to shootings in high concentrated areas of black communities, many people view it as normal? So once again, I ask you all today: why don’t people rage and spark up about violence that affects the black communities daily lives?
Today, you will hear me talk about Lateral Violence in the black community. Many of you may already know what Lateral Violence is, but for those who don’t, Lateral Violence is when an oppressed group is violent towards their own members of their own oppressed group.
I have gathered credible stories from a close friend that has been through horrific situations involving lateral violence. I told him about this project and my topic, and I asked if I could share a story of his. He was in Oakland walking back from a liquor store with other men who were African-American. They were all outside in front of one man’s house, and they saw a car drive past them, slowly shooting into the crowd. Keep in mind: these are black men shooting at other black men, who have no sense of decency for who was in the crowd and therefore those who were not targets, were simply guilty by association. I could hear the pain in his voice while he told me about this story. This was not the first incident he had been in, but it was the most outrageous because these men that were shooting had no remorse for who was around. He wanted me to share his story because he was a victim of lateral violence. It emphasizes the fact that it is an issue in the black community. People are losing their lives over situations regardless of whether or not they are involved. Today I will speak on two main points, the first main point will be the impact lateral violence has in the black community and how lateral violence is unseemly addressed by the society.
Do you know anyone who is affected by lateral violence? Lateral violence in the black community transpires daily. Did you know that 89% of all black victims were killed by a black perpetrator” as of 2015 (National Center For Victims of Crime). Based on the evidence this is a clear example on why lateral violence needs more attention and more solutions preventing black on black crime. This is not something to just talk about; this is a crisis in America that we won’t be able to stop if we don’t come together as a society and make change to where people focus on the “so called little incidents’ that happen daily and affect many lives everyday. This lateral violence is a call for help in the black community because it all ties backup to poverty, discrimination and lack of opportunity for black males.
Many People in the black community as well as other communities know that lateral violence does occur in the black community and since it happens so often, people view it as normal, and that it isn’t a situation that needs to be looked at RIGHT NOW. Going back to when I earlier talked about the crime stats in 2013, just as of 2016 a three year difference, according to the FBI's uniform crime-reporting, “90.1 percent of Black victims of Homicides were killed by other blacks”. African-Americans killing each other is causing major trauma in the Black community which reflects that so many young men feel hopeless. In an article, by Greg Raleigh, “It’s on us to end Black on Black crime, hopelessness” he says, “I spoke with teens after the 2015 Freddie Gray riots in Baltimore, I found a majority never had positive male influence; they felt neglected and helpless. Committing crimes was okay with them. Surviving was their only concern; it didn’t matter who they hurt”. If the black community does not do something to address black on black crime, then this pattern will continue with young black men feeling unwanted and hopeless to where their only hope to survive is the streets.
I feel as if when Black people are questioned by other races, “well what about black on black crime?” we take that as an offensive question. During my research on Black on Black crime, white people seemed to be brought up into the topic when it should only be focusing on the problems and solutions to lateral violence. Adding other races into this issue, won’t help focus on making this issue better for the sake of our community. In my opinion, the black community has had the worse trauma because violence has been apart of our lives for over 100 years from slavery, police brutality, to our own kind being oppressed by the institution! What I want to get across today is even if it is brought up, what actions are being made? Does anyone in the audience know a organization that focuses on Black on Black crime and I'm just speaking for Oakland? There are many organizations world wide that help black people through racial, social and economic such as BOP (Black Organizing Project) but my point is where are the organizations that focus primarily on black on black crime? Where are the leaders, role models, older people who are African American using their voice to speak out on Lateral Violence in the black community…. Because I don’t see it and I don't see any change in lateral violence in the black community getting better.
Leaving all this information on the table knowing I could go much deeper into lateral violence in the black community, I hope you all were able to understand that black on black crime is a problem to society and there are some organizations helping the black community, however, there are not many focusing on the root of the problem for black men killing each other. My main goal in this speech was to educate you all on what lateral violence is and how lateral violence affects the black community, especially if it's not being addressed with enough attention. As a young educated student in the race, policy and law academy it starts with me, it starts with us, how can we change this?
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Students 6th-12th Grades