Stolen Black Lives…At The Hands Of Our Own

vigil for Nykea Aldridge

Diann Aldridge, center, the mother of Nykea Aldridge, holds her grandchildren/Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Nykea Aldridge, who was caught in crossfire pushing her baby in a stroller on the sidewalk in Chicago, is only one of the latest horrific tragedies of another Black body needlessly stolen. The tragedy became a national high profile murder, as she happened to be the cousin of NBA player, Dwyane Wade. Condolences are offered to Ms. Aldridge’s family and all Black families who have lost a loved one to random or intentional gun violence.

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Black people have been killing other Black folks for over three hundred years. Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Dallas, New York, Cincinnati, Detroit, and every other major city in the United States has Black citizens that involve themselves in heinous crimes including homicide. This phenomenon is sad but it is nothing new. 
    
How many Black people have to be killed before we realize that something has to change and collectively initiate something different?  One person getting killed is too many. Whether it is murdering each other or law enforcement violence, at what point do we say, “Stop it”?
Sure, this statement is an oversimplification of a complex issue that involves systemic oppression, racism, self-hate, unemployment, miseducation, mass incarceration, low socioeconomic status, drug trafficking and usage, money, low self-esteem and self-worth, gangs, mental health issues, history of slavery and modern day servitude, colorism, neglectful parenting, etc., but is murder the only option when circumstances don’t fall within our favor or our expectations are not met?    
 
Who is to blame for the lives lost, and the lives that will be lost if none or only a few of us do anything different than what we did yesterday (when lives were lost)?
In an informal discussion I had the other day, a colleague of mine mentioned how tired she was of hearing about the same heartbreaking stories that involve slain Black lives.  I agreed, shook my head, and responded that we (Black folks) have been in this destructive cycle ever since I can remember. For many Black families, violence is normal and expected.
While most of us have been lucky or blessed to maneuver around or escape catastrophic events, we have family members, friends, or know of someone who has been directly affected by arbitrary acts of viciousness. Sadly, we have a very familiar and peculiar relationship with aggression that leads to death.
 
It seemed that at one point in our history, we were more likely to agree to disagree with one another and be okay with it. Sure, there was crime here and there but it wasn’t at the same rate as it is today. What happened to us talking things out, compromise, decency, or even humility?
Well, upon reflection, I just remembered some of the messages I got growing up regarding how compromise or walking away is not an option (that still happens today for many youth).  Here are some of the items that I learned as an adolescent and young adult:
 
1.      “You can’t be a real man if you show humility or weakness at any moment of time.” 
2.     “Never allow anyone to disrespect you.” 
3.     “Don’t be anybody’s punk.” 
4.     “Snitches get stitches.”
5.     “Don’t talk to anyone when something is wrong.” 
6.     “Man up and don’t act like a bitch.”    
7.     “Take care of you and yours at all costs.”
8.     “You better come strapped.”
9.     “Don’t make me pop my trunk.”
10.  “Better him to go [die] than me.”