The Real Truth About Blacks And Gun Violence

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DeWayne Wickham recently penned a piece lamenting the number of black children killed as the result of gun violence.  During his reflection, he set the foundation for the need for more gun control by acknowledging the deaths of both Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager killed by George Zimmerman, and Hadiya Pendleton, an innocent victim who was recently killed in a case of mistaken identity by gang members on the South Side of Chicago.

Though Wickham’s point that gun violence among black children being pandemic is well taken, he neglected to properly label the reasons for such violence.  He also doesn’t go far enough in detailing who’s responsible for this pandemic. Mr. Wickham did make mention of it, but almost in passing- that the overwhelming majority of the deaths of the black victims come at the hands of other blacks. That’s the first issue.

The death of Martin, though sad and unfortunate- especially for his family- does little to advance the case for increasing gun laws to reduce violence.  Martin was as much a victim of his bad judgment, and the profile set by the previous eight burglars, as he was of Zimmerman’s gun.

The Pendleton case, however, may provide cause.

When citing FBI statistics regarding the number of black deaths, Wickham didn’t note that the majority of those deaths came at the hands of other blacks.  Using the same FBI statistics cited by Wickham, of the 2,938 murder offenders (up to the age of 22) in 2011, 1803 were black.

The total number of black murders regardless of age in 2011 was 2695. Of that number, 2447 were committed by blacks.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, of all homicides committed between 1980 and 2008, 47.4 percent of the victims were black while 52.5 percent of all offenders were black. Of all felony murders during the same time period, blacks accounted for 44.1 percent of those murdered while accounting for 59.9 percent of the offenders.  Blacks accounted for 56.9 percent of all gun homicides.

Any serious mention of protecting black children from violent crime has to include a sincere effort in assigning blame to the causes of crime, along with effective methods to reduce it.  Wickham uses a false argument to justify his blame for violent crime by condemning “those who want more prisons, not better schools…” He also blames Congress for kowtowing to the NRA.

This undermines his concern for black youth by appearing disingenuous. Who, specifically, wants more prisons and not better schools?  What specifically does the NRA have to do with black gang members on Chicago’s South Side who shot Pendleton with their illegally-obtained guns?

I don’t doubt Mr. Wickham’s sincerity regarding black youth.  But if the obligation to confront this problem belongs to “all of us” as he claims, then it’s our responsibility to point the finger directly at who and what is responsible.

First, some of the cities with the harshest gun laws also have the highest rates of black-on-black gun violence.  This is no coincidence.

Second, Wickham is right: America’s children need to be protected from gun violence, but not necessarily with more gun laws.  Restrictive gun laws punish only those who follow the law, not those who don’t.  This is precisely why we call lawbreakers criminals.  No matter how many (more) laws are created with the intention of reducing gun violence, criminals by definition will disregard these laws, knowing that their potential victims will be increasingly defenseless.

We should consistently and effectively prosecute lawbreakers with stiffer prison sentences, not constrain the law-abiding.

Third, and most importantly, Wickham makes absolutely no mention of the fact that the disproportionate numbers of gun violence that victimizes blacks, committed by other blacks, are from fatherless households.  That’s the second and most crucial issue.

Seventy percent of black children are born out of wedlock, and roughly 60 percent live in homes without fathers.  This sad reality should motivate state and federal governments as well as local communities- especially churches and other religious organizations- to encourage blacks to get and stay married. Children from households where a mother and father are present are less likely to engage in violent behavior, including gangs.

A number of social pathologies have been attributed to those who come from fatherless homes, including juvenile delinquency, youths in prison, youth drug use, high school dropouts, behavioral issues, and trouble dealing with authority.  Nowhere is this more prevalent than among black children.

Mr. Wickham and I agree that gun violence is a detriment to black youth; we simply disagree with whom and what receives blame.  If we want to reduce gun violence, especially in the inner cities, we have to change and redeem the cultural values that foster it.  This begins with recreating and redeeming the black family.

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A Fundamentally Transformed America

Last month, after forty-five months of unemployment near or above eight percent, record numbers of Americans on welfare and receiving food stamps; increasing numbers of Americans receiving federal disability and Medicaid; four straight years of record, trillion-dollar deficits which has led to four years of record-breaking debt levels due to record-breaking borrowing resulting from record-breaking spending, sparking a series of “relief measures” known as quantitative easing, which has devalued the dollar, increased food prices along with consistently high gas and energy prices, all of which (and more) has led to the economic stagnation and market uncertainty that has come to characterize the Obama presidency, roughly 51% of Americans who voted decided that we needed another four years of economic misery.

That some people would vote for a continuation of a government-controlled economy at the expense of the private sector is understandable and unfortunately, expected. Many of those who voted in favor of the continuance of these economic policies have something to gain from the prolongation of Democrat/progressive statism- be it the reception or maintenance of government-extended benefits or retention of power and influence.  That the majority of Americans decidedly voted for the policies which have been a clear disaster and a detriment to resurrecting the American, free-market economic machine is confusing and disheartening.

The day after the election, the stock market fell roughly 300 points.  Several days later, the heads of several major businesses and corporations revealed that they would be laying off hundreds and in some cases, thousands of employees.  Both of these unfortunate realities were said to be precautionary, the result of avoiding what many have termed “taxmageddon,” the significant increase of taxation due to expiring tax rates and as it relates to businesses complying with taxes and regulations associated with the implementation of Obamacare.   This was no coincidence and is but a small sample of what is still to come.

Aside from literally electing to continue the policies that have failed time and again- not only here but also overseas- both contemporarily and in the history of the late nineteenth and twentieth century, the result of the election is informative for a couple of reasons.  First, although President Obama received close to ten million fewer votes than he received in 2008, his re-election- which was predicated on a vision of big government and class warfare- is a triumph of fifty years of liberal miseducation. Only in a society that has forsaken its economic foundation of the free-market and has preferred to teach several generations of publicly-educated children- up to and through college- the benefit of government-induced, economic collectivism could create an environment where a president with such a demonstrably disastrous economic record could be taken serious enough to be re-elected.

The second reason, which is predicated on the first, is that America has now reached a point where it is comfortable making emotionally-reactive decisions at the expense of common sense and reason to the detriment of the country.  This is an essential characteristic of liberalism and the policies birthed from it. Whether Americans chose to re-elect the president because he was black (and many did) or they bought into the rhetoric of class warfare or because they felt entitled to the fruit of someone else’s labor through the immoral course of redistribution, these reasons are based on emotion.  Why?  Because color offers no recourse in determining a person’s ability and punitive taxation at the expense of the wealthy never solves deficit spending or justifies excessive entitlements; it’s also theft.  It may indeed feel good voting for a person based on their skin color and punishing the “rich” through disproportionate taxation, but feeling good at the expense of reason isn’t sound economic policy.

Unfortunately, the fundamental character of America has changed and fifty-one percent feels good about it.

Blacks- The Lost Demographic

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Several weeks after the presidential election, many Americans are still attempting to assess the political ramifications of the GOP defeat to Barack Obama.  Aside from the many commentaries that resemble political and cultural obituaries of the Republican or conservative “brand” and its influence, there have been several thought-provoking perspectives on what the GOP needs to do in order to effectively persuade more of the electorate- specifically minorities- into voting for them and the ideas they represent.

I agree with that premise.  The GOP needs to adapt, tailor and clarify their message- a message that stands in distinction to, and not in conflation with, the Democrat message- to a diversified America. I think a carefully clarified and articulated conservative message would hold tremendous cultural and economic benefits to minorities.

Furthermore, Republicans and conservatives need to employ qualified messengers, regardless of their ethnic composition, to deliver this clarified message to the general public, irrespective of demographics.  At the same time, GOP is currently in possession of these qualified messengers- especially ones that represent minority demographics they covet- but oddly, they’re still seen and treated as role players and not central figures in a game that the GOP is currently losing.

With a prudent and eloquent message that details clear social, cultural and economic value-based positions, I have no doubt that the GOP will be able to attract more single women, Latinos, Asians, young people, gays, union-represented employees and possibly even some college professors.  But one demographic I am certain that the GOP will not persuade anytime soon is blacks and all attempts to do so after this election may be pointless.  Blacks have solidified themselves as the lost demographic.

That blacks would vote for President Obama in 2008 isn’t earth-shaking.  America was in the process of electing its first black president.  The historicity, importance and symbolism of that election were things that most blacks wanted to be a part of.  This was evidenced by ninety-six percent of blacks casting their votes in Obama’s favor. Though many Americans disagreed with Obama’s stated intention of “fundamentally transforming the United States of America” the significance of his election on the psyche of black America couldn’t be minimized or ignored.

That blacks would vote for Obama in such overwhelming numbers four years later considering the poor economic and socially-divisive record- specifically the constant level of high unemployment and its impact on black America- is nothing short of disheartening.  The statistical reality of black life under the first black president has been so bad that I was cautiously optimistic that blacks would take the opportunity to reassess their support for Obama and his policies.  Unfortunately, it didn’t happen. I misjudged how central race continues to be within the black mindset.

The unemployment rate of black Americans the month prior to the election was 14.3%, which is almost a full percentage point increase from September’s rate of 13.4%.  Worse still, under Obama, the unemployment rate has reached 16.7% twice (March 2010 and August 2011) and during 2011, it averaged almost 16%.

The black poverty rate is 25.7 percent, meaning a quarter of blacks currently reside under the federal poverty rate (23k for a family of four).  The percentage of black children living in poverty is close to thirty-nine percent.  From 2009-2012, the black median household income has fallen 11 percent from $36,567 to $32,498 as compared to the 5.2 percent decline suffered by white households.  According to the Census Bureau, in 2010, the median household wealth for whites was $110,729 versus $4995 for blacks. Yet despite these numbers, 93 percent of blacks voted- against their own self-interest and present reality, to re-elect a black president for another four years.

These numbers represent the wealth and income disparities between blacks and whites and say nothing regarding the education gap that continues to widen at the expense of the future of black children.  Several times during the past four years the president told black audiences that education equality is the “civil rights issue of our time” and called for more “investment” in education,.  Yet he continued his support for teachers’ unions (which actively contribute to education disparity) while taking stands against school choice- an issue which most blacks support.

These statistics indicate that blacks as a group- and in comparison to their white counterparts- are demonstrably worse under the first black president than at any time in the previous thirty years.

What has been the black response to President Obama’s economic stewardship?  The members of the Congressional Black Caucus, specifically Emmanuel Cleaver, out-going chairman of the caucus said, “With [such high] unemployment, if we had a white president we’d be marching around the White House.”  He also said, “The president knows we are going to act in deference to him in a way we wouldn’t to someone white.”  So the President’s blackness trumps black unemployment.

Similarly, radio host Tom Joyner, told his listeners last year, “Let’s not even deal with facts right now. Let’s deal with our blackness and pride — and loyalty… I’m not afraid or ashamed to say that as black people, we should do it because he’s a black man.”  Samuel Jackson said, “I voted for Barack because he was black.”  In other words, ignore economic reality and support Obama because of racial solidarity.  Sadly, these aren’t isolated sentiments; they’re pervasive among blacks, obviously evidenced in the high numbers of blacks that voted to re-elect Obama.

What was Obama’s response to the criticism regarding the sad state of black reality?  The president’s response, in light of his actions, shows exactly what low regard he holds for his most loyal demographic. In an interview for Black Enterprise magazine in August of this year he said, “I’m not the president of black America. I’m the president of the United States of America…”

His answer was a not-so-slight-of hand to deflect constructive criticism regarding the effects of his economic policies on black Americans.  It was also a passive and dishonest way of saying that he’s unable to pass legislation or enact policies for a specific group of people.  President Obama’s empty platitude may have carried some weight if it weren’t for the fact that he’s done exactly what he insinuated he couldn’t do- pass legislation for a specific group of people.

The president passed the Lily Ledbetter Act and consistently made birth control an issue to pander to women; he instructed the Justice Department not to defend the constitutionality of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act), ended the use of DADT (Don’t Ask Don’t Tell), the official policy of United States regarding homosexual servicemen and women in the military and also endorsed same-sex marriage, to pander to homosexuals; he directed the Department of Homeland Security to give immunity from deportation to the children of illegal immigrants, provided they were brought to America prior to the age of 16 but who are younger than 30, overriding Congressional input to pander to Latinos; and his bailout of GM and major portions of his “stimulus bill” was meant to repay the unions who supported his campaign and presidency through word and financial deed.  Yet the president couldn’t do anything to help alleviate the suffering of blacks?

Being the first black president- and a Democrat at that, most Americans would have applauded his attempts to address some of the pathologies that afflict black America through targeted and directed legislation, but he didn’t.  How did black folk respond as Obama continued to ignore them? Blacks still supported Obama regardless.  After everything we’ve seen and heard during the past four years, it’s apparent that racial solidarity is still more important to blacks than black employment, income, wealth and improved education.  And it’s a damn shame.

Considering all of this, it is certainly no wonder why Republicans and conservatives are so trepidatious in engaging a demographic this embarrassingly loyal to a man and party which takes their needs for granted, while effectively disregarding their concerns. If blacks continue, as expected, to demonstrate this level of electoral faithfulness- in spite of being ignored, what motivation does Barack Obama or the Democrat party have to sincerely address their concerns as a reward or gratitude for their loyalty?

It’s a painful observation, but until black Americans move beyond the racial emotionalism that subjugates them to liberal policies and racial solidarity, and remove the mental constraints which preclude them from openly acknowledging the adverse effects that race-first policies have had on their communities, blacks will get exactly what they vote for.

And blacks, the lost demographic, will have no one to blame but themselves.