African-American males in Detroit between the ages of 15 and 24 are dying at a rate that is roughly seven times higher than the rest of the Detroit population. If they were dying at the same rate as everyone else, there would be one death every three weeks. Instead, there are two black men dying every single week.
This has set off alarm bells within the Detroit Police Department, which has taken heavy criticism for its policing of the black community. Their most recent embarrassment was the shooting of 7-year old Aiyana Jones during a police raid. But the Chief of Police, Ralph Godbee Jr., is concerned about black men killing one another.
A 2009 report by the FBI chronicles the growing national trend of black male homicide. According to the report, a black male was about six times more likely than a white man to be a victim of homicide. Although black males account for only 7 percent of the Detroit population, they constitute 25 percent of the homicides.
Recently, I wrote about how prominent black scholars, such as Dr. Julianne Malveaux, are speaking up on behalf of the suffering of Detroit residents. The point here is that the suffering will not end until we allocate resources to stop the devastation. As of this moment, genocide of black men is contributing to the erosion of the black family. When a black boy is left uneducated by a decaying inner city school system, he is then unemployed and ultimately either the victim of murder or incarceration. Nearly half of all the black men in my family have either been to jail or come close to death.
Both our society and the black family have engaged in a creative partnership for the destruction and death of black boys, and it's time for that partnership to end. Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama, both of whom happen to be black males, have the power to stop this.
Sure, it won't be easy, and it's difficult to care about black males without getting resistance from politicians who've been trained to hate them, but I am hopeful that black elected officials in Washington will gain the moral courage to take a stand on this important issue.
The black boys who choose to kill one another do not start off in the world as demons. The world demonizes us, and we respond accordingly. It makes us angry, bitter, marginalized and violent. When growing up in a world that doesn't accept you, you find yourself doing things you wouldn't normally do and caught up in situations you'd never envisioned for yourself. Believe me, I've been in this theater of life, with a front row seat.
Fix the schools, create youth programs, invest in mentorship. That is how the black male is going to survive.
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Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and a Scholarship in Action Resident of the Institute for Black Public Policy. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.