Whites ranting about black-on-black crime usually stems from one of two purposes: trying to get Black Lives Matter advocates to shut up about police abuse or making not-so-subtle implications that blacks by nature are more deviant or aggressive than white people (because the idea of a disproportionate number of minority people living in poverty — the legacy of Jim Crow — creating disproportionate minority crime is somehow too difficult to grasp, even though poverty breeds crime among whites as well).
The absurdities are numerous, but looking solely at the first function, it should be obvious to thinking adults that complex societies often have multiple problems, and therefore it seems rather strange to condemn people who focus on one issue for not focusing on another. It’s important people are tackling problems they care about! But just because you focus on one doesn’t mean you don’t care about others! And just because one movement gets more media attention, or has larger marches or influence, doesn’t mean the other isn’t happening.
Further, the timing of the loudest condemnations of Black Lives Matter is interesting. When a police shooting occurs, outrage sounds across the country. A seemingly equally loud reaction then arises trying to silence Black Lives Matter by pointing to black-on-black crime. Yet a police shooting only emphasizes the importance of nonviolent protest against unnecessary force. Is a homicide in the inner city a signal for people to shut up about local violent crime? Quite the opposite.
Many black-led groups in Kansas City are working tirelessly to reduce violent crime in black neighborhoods. But if, as a white person, your interaction with black folk is limited because of where you live, work, or go to school, or if you aren’t actively connecting with social justice or community improvement movements on the other side of town, you may not have heard of them. This article provides a list that isn’t even complete (and won’t include efforts like the No Violence Alliance, which is a city and police program). These grassroots groups hold meetings, vigils, peace walks, protest marches, rallies, and social events. They raise awareness, influence policy, and support other people and organizations pushing for positive change.
So the next time someone says, “Black Lives Matter types need to f*ck off and go protest black-on-black murder, that’s killing more black people than the police,” perhaps this list can help. There are incredible people in Kansas City working on one of these important issues, some working on both. Perhaps we should let those who wish to focus on police violence do so and those who wish to focus on local crime do so. Only good can come from either.
Ad Hoc Group Against Crime: “The AdHoc Group Against Crime is a community resource that, through crisis intervention and prevention, supports youth and families who are affected by criminal behavior.”
100 Men of the Blue Hills: “This is an organization that provides men who are natural leaders in K.C. an opportunity to take on the responsibility of resolving conflicts on a grassroots level before they reach the level of violence. Many but not all of our members have been leaders in the street who are in transition and committed to abstaining from and preventing any acts of violence we can. We believe this effort must be led by real people who have credibility in K.C. and particularly our streets. Our intent is to keep our community safe,productive and beautiful.”
KC Mothers in Charge: “Violence Prevention, Education & Intervention for Kansas City youth, young adults, families and community organizations.”
Aim4Peace: “Aim4Peace is an evidence-based public health approach to cure violence in Kansas City… Aim4Peace uses highly trained violence interrupters and outreach staff, public education campaigns, Neighborhood Action Teams and community mobilization to reverse the violence epidemic in Kansas City, MO.”
Stop the Killing KC: “A group of concerned Community Activists, Families, People, and support organizations who have made a commitment to the halt of violence and murder that is catastrophic to our families in our community.”
Momma On a Mission: “Momma On a Mission, Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c) (3) advocacy program for the families of homicide victims: helping them with emotional support, awareness of services, and organizing community activities to solve crimes.”