Thoughts on Mayor Nutter’s Tirade and Black Mob Violence

Posted: August 12, 2011 in Uncategorized

As I was walking past my mother in law sitting in her room listening to the radio I was shaken by an angry voice. No it wasn’t my mother in law. It was the voice of Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. He was confronting the growing rise in black mob violence that has now sprouted recently in his own city Philadelphia. As I listened to Mayor Nutter I was glad that he took a stand against the attacks. Violence especially random racial violence is something to not be condoned especially by us as African Americans. However upon further listening I could not help but begin to think about the reasons for the violent attacks that have sprung up in Myrtle Beach, Wisconsin, and Philadelphia. These youth are not organized and do not have a specific articulated ideology as the leaders of the past Civil Rights Movement but they have a message. What is the message that they are telling us?

To me the message is quite obvious. We are tired of being looked over and stepped on. We are tired of enduring a life where we have no hope. They do not know what to do with the rage that lies deep in the heart of every African American youth whether they are aware of it or not. Cornel West pointed out this condition of black nihilism way back in the 1990’s in his book Race Matters. Now this disease of nihilism has come to a head in our current generation. These young people do need parents but the problem is this: America has not done right by their grandparents or their parents. Why should they make the right choices? Why should they be respectable? They see no point.They live by the maxim quoted by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:32 “Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die”.

The only reason why I know this is because I too was once surrounded by nihilism. I remember the 1992 LA Riots and the countless experiences of growing up in the hood where even if your parents were middle class and striving you still had to go to school. What awaited you at school? Many of my classmates (some have already passed away) lived with no light in their eyes or love in their hearts and all they could say was “Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die.” I could have gone that route but the one thing that I had and still have that many of my peers did not have was this: hope. I had people in my life who may not have been the best parents, teachers, preachers, in the world but they did give me hope and that has made all the difference. So I applaud Mayor Nutter’s confrontation of the attacks. We all have choices on whether we indulge in brutal and senseless acts but I also would implore everyone to think about the deeper issues that surround the choices of the mobs of African American youth in Philadelphia.The youth of our country especially the African American youth need hope and I pray that those of us who have hope would be able to share that with them. If not Malcolm X’s statement concerning JFK’s assassination will come to pass in a different way. Chickens will come home to roost.

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Comments
  1. Steve Schenk says:

    So, you are describing problems that aren’t unique to the Black community, but are certain more acute in the Black community. In your opinion, what role do people outside that community have in addressing the problem?

    I guess what I am really wondering is this: I am very committed to pursuing cross-cultural relationships, and multi-cultural community, but how much should we talk about it in order to achieve it? I have been admonished by older ministers (Black, White, and Hispanic) that we need to talk deeply about race, and racial assumptions and privileges, but I wonder if that has to do with generational issues. It seems to me that addressing race can sometimes actually hinder relationship. Is that true? Or is that in and of itself a perception driven by my own cultural position?

  2. mayotron says:

    Steve,

    In my humble opinion, I believe that those outside of the African American community need to work within that community and identify/stand in solidarity with the African American community and work towards addressing issues affecting the African American community. It is my firm belief that we are all mixed up in this together and what affects the African American community will eventually affect the rest of the nation.

    I also believe that race is something that needs to be talked about. I think the previous generations had a set of specific issues that were related to racism (legal rights, discrimination) that have been dealt with but we cannot ignore the legacy of a racialized society. If we define racism as openly hostile attitudes and actions then those incidents are few and far in between. But on the other hand if we see the disparities of economics, education, and living conditions then racism is still alive. There is something wrong in a society when “ghetto” is a negative adjective and it is the place where black people live. There is also something wrong with a society when getting an education, being a good husband and father, and not using excessive profanity is considered “acting white”. Those are what I perceive as the lingering effects of racism. I do not know about other ethnicities but many African Americans in my generation and younger see racism everytime they turn on the TV or walk out on the street. We see a system that has said that we are worthless and many of us have given in to this.

    Dr. King had a vision that went beyond voting rights and desegregation. If you look at the inner cities of America today you will see that his dream has not been fulfilled and if you look into the history it wasn’t just because young African American youth failed to act responsibly.

    So all that to simply say that race is still an issue just not the way it was back in the 1960’s. Hope that helps.

  3. Irremngurry says:

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