So the very cool Rod Dreher linked to my post, “Imitation of Life” yesterday, and hundreds of page views later, instead of feeling excited that my little old blog has been eyeballed by so many, I’m experiencing a major let down.
First, a caveat or two. I’m just me. Alisha De Freitas (by the by, that “D” is capitalized). I’m a Christian, a woman, Black, a wife, a mother, a sister, college graduate, and such a such, in no particular order. I do not speak for any other Christians, women, Blacks, ect., here. I hate even the perception that I’m some kind of model (fill-in the blank).
Now, the good. I wanted to highlight a few comments that jumped out at me. Rod writes (and this isn’t in order):
If people would at some point say, “I hear you, you’re right, that is wrong, and there’s no excuse for it,” instead of saying, “Yeah, but you’re more wrong, what about … “ — we might get somewhere.
These criminals rob us all — black and white and everybody else — of more than our property. They rob us of the moral sanity and solidarity with each other that are rightfully ours. They rob us of the chance to see each other as fellow human beings who suffer, and who have a right to be heard.
To have a black person like Alisha admit that she too is scared, and she hates this violence too, matters, because it gives defensive white people room to acknowledge the justice of what many black people say about race and crime, including, for example, the indignity of what Alisha’s husband has to go through, and how infuriating and debilitating that must be to have to live like that.
This last one is especially important.I believe all wronged people should have the freedom to express their fears, grievances, and experiences, no matter their race. It doesn’t bother me that some Whites feel wronged by Blacks and other minorities. I’m well aware that some Whites feel they, not Blacks, are the real victims of racism. I also believe Blacks should be able to express their grievances, too. I’m not sure why some people seem to think that having a Black man in the White House should some how translate to Blacks never uttering a word about discrimination again.
But things are taken to extremes. I hate hearing Black folks harping on endlessly about past wrongs while not handling business to make a better future (or even present). Yes, Jim Crow was real, and so was “redlining” and… well so many more acts of institutionalized racism. But life moves on and I’ll be damned if I let someone else’s hate rule my life. On the flip side, there are Whites who want to hear *nothing* of the racism Blacks face on the daily. Down in the comboxes at Rod’s post, I found J M’s comment indicative of this:
I’m sure being black can be a hassle, especially if you’re a law-abiding one. But until blacks stop talking only about what feral blacks do to other blacks, never saying anything, much less expressing regret, for what violent blacks have done to millions of whites (and Hispanics, and Asians), I feel nothing for them. [emphasis mine, AD]
Well dang. Whoops, this was supposed to be the “good” section. Ah, well. I guess I should move on to the bad. From J M, again:
Bottom line for me is that I fail to see why I ought to feel badly about slavery, Jim Crow, et al, which all happened long before I lived, but blacks, this very day, feel no collective responsibility for how a (not inconsiderable) number of feral blacks act with violence toward others every single day.
“Feral”? Do you realize you’re referring to people, right? Not dogs, or racoons or some other animals. People. People. People. I seriously hope this person does not claim Christianity. Because I see nothing Christ-like about referring to other people, also made in the image of God, as feral. But as to the “collective responsibility”, how, I wonder, would such acts look like? How can I, Alisha De Freitas, practically take responsibility for the acts of thousands of others? Put on a hair shirt and dump ashes on my head? Go make public apologies for the acts of folks I don’t know and never will? I’m thirty, so no, I wasn’t alive during slavery or Jim Crow, either. Does that absolve me of being part of such a collective? Yes or no? Why or why not?
Back in college, author Kevin Powell had just released “Who’s Gonna Take the Weight?” and he came to my university to speak. I met him afterwards, and he gave me a few words of advice about Vibe where I was interning. His book is very good. I don’t recall every word now, being that it’s been nearly a decade since I read it, but I remember clearly he pulls no punches about where the Black community- full of fatherless homes, dreams of thugdom, rampant drugs and erroding values- was headed. Sadly, it looks like we’re nearly there. I’d argue that we all- Black, White, Latino, Asian, old, young- are taking that weight. In the rising crime, decaying ghettos, high taxes (if you don’t live in Jersey, you really shouldn’t complain about high taxes… you don’t know from high taxes), thinly stretched police forces and overwhelmed educators. If I’m part of the hair shirt collective, so is J M, whether he likes it or not.
How about some ugly? From Lord Karth:
This is why I have been convinced, for quite some time, that the wrong side won the Civil War, and that the wrong side prevailed in the so-called “Civil Rights” conflicts. Human beings are not “equal”, and when a society tries to make them “equal”, they are then left not free. Apparently, this society made up its mind that Equal is better than Free. Except when it comes to the getting of Free Stuff.
Riiiight. Because my ancesters were so much better off as slaves. Or as maids. Or living in fear of violent fools in white sheets with burning crosses. Again, I hope this isn’t a Christian, because I don’t see how he views me as a Sister in Christ if he thinks my life would be much better picking cotton or working in the Big House. Or being raped to sire more slaves for “Massa.” Disgusting.
But Trinidad, where Ms. de Freitas’s boyfriend hails from, has a murder rate of 35 per 100,000. By contrast, the murder rate among the US black population (that is, murders committed by blacks), is ‘only’ 18.67. At least, according to my calculations using 2011 data and assuming that the black/non-black proportions hold for both known perp murders and unknown perp murders.
I wrote back to him that Keiron is not my boyfriend, but my husband. But I suppose us Black chicks only have “baby daddies.” How he could make this error after my post and Rod’s clearly defined him as my husband, I don’t know. But on to his point about Trinidad, I also wrote:
I’m unsure what the point of that statistic is to this conversation. Really, not being facetious. Comparing the black murder rate in a first world country to, what I assume, is the overall murder rate (you do know half their population is of East Indian descent, right?) of a third world country is not comparing apples to apples.
I’m not much for statistics (K is, though), but I immediately realized that M_Young’s stat facts are pretty meaningless both in comparing crime here and there and also to this discussion. Oh sneaky racism, you little devil, putting on your math cap to masquerade as rational reason.
All the comments weren’t bad. A few more, this one from Bryan:
It’s interesting that Alisha mentions The Wire, since one of the main themes of that show was the pointless destruction wrought by the drug war and how it directly attributed to the hopeless cycle of prison, murder, and vain ambition in the black community. Drug prohibition doesn’t work. Drug prohibition has had a clear, obvious, severe, negative and measurable impact on the quality of life in America, for everybody of every race but most especially for poorer people. The illegality of street drugs has done ten times more harm than the drugs themselves have ever done. The only drug to actually decline in usage in America in the last 80 years has been tobacco–while perfectly legal. Anyone who tries to address the issue of crime and poverty among any group while ignoring that elephant in the room is simply deluding themselves and committing intellectual arrogance.
I mention The Wire because it’s totally relevant to the actual conversation, talks of the Confederacy and Jim Crow, be damned. Anyone who knows me knows how madly in love I am with The Wire. Although for some of those commenters above, the complexity of the characters’ lives would most likely be missed. I really feel the drug discussion should really weigh far heavier in Rod’s posts. To notice the deterioration of the Black family post-Civil Rights era and not take in account the deleterious effects of the Crack Epidemic is more than a little off-balanced.
It seems to me there’s some kind of unspoken hypothesis in all of your posts about race and black youth and I wonder what exactly it is. Clearly, there are HUGE problems with urban, poor, black communities. Is that a great controversy? But if you think that any old black dude (say, some middle-class computer programmer with a stable family and a 401k, or say, someone like Alicia’s husband) is somehow morally obligated to saunter up to gangsters living in housing projects and say, “Hey, guys, don’t you see how bad this stuff is?” then you’re naive.
Hey, do I know you? K is a computer programmer, complete with stable family and retirement plan. Also, there’s no way K would be sauntering, jogging, biking or anything else up to gangsters in the projects. MB’s point is totally valid, and also makes me think of Traddy Catholic’s comment. You all do know that K would also most likely, get jumped, too, right? I mean, this whole line of discussion began on black on black crime. I’m sure M_Young, ever ready with his Black crime data, could whip out his figures to show that K has much more to fear than the average White TAC commenter.
Quite honestly, I don’t recommend my regular readers bother to wade into the murky waters of that comment thread. Instead, go hug your kids, call a friend and if you’re in the Northeast today, enjoy the unseasonably mild weather.
It occured to me that this is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. Obviously, his dream is still deferred.
Just a few of the members of my family. We clearly, are all for swirling. From left, my dad, Larry; nephew, Nate; niece, Sophia; nephew, Justin; nephew, Greg, and my daughter, Zoe.