“Black men need to pull up their pants.”
“Black men need to stop Black on Black crime.”
“Black men need to get up and get a job.”
Words by Derrick Jaxn
It’s no secret that Black men have opportunities for improvement. Not only is it shoved down our throat by society, but some of us are so blind that we call ourselves embracing it like it’s the thing to do.
None the less, there are two sides to every story and somewhere in the middle is the truth. Not everything is as bad as it seems, but it will get that way if we keep on believing the hype.
By now, you’re well-aware that America believes sagging to be a leading cause of failure amongst Black men. Don Lemon of CNN even cited this as one of the top 5 things the Black community needs to stop doing to “save” itself. This is despite the fact that Black men in the 60′s were well dressed in suit and ties daily, yet still got the same police brutality and legal lynching we get today. Those legal lynchings have evolved into “stand your ground” cases like that of Jordan Davis who couldn’t even be seen from the waist down when he was killed. Richard Sherman was wearing athletic tights but still described as a “thug”, so it’s safe to say the “pull your pants up” campaign won’t save us because it was never breaking us to begin with.
Instead it presupposes that if we play by all the rules, we’ll be deserving of fairness. By rules I mean college degree in-hand, shirt tucked in, and well-groomed. While I may dress neatly and achieve some things, I hate that it requires those achievements to earn my innocence until proven guilty that every other citizen is afforded without them.
It becomes taboo to mention the odds against Black men when we have the trumpets sounding for “Black on Black crime” that’s become our downfall. This misleading phrase only endorses the suspicion of young Black men despite the fact that Black on Black crime is relatively the same as white on white crime and every other race’s. But in the tragedy of Sandy Hook, not once did you hear that white on white crime needs to stop.
So, why then did Black men inherit the trademark for crime in America? According to the most recent comprehensive data published by the Justice Department on violent crime victimizations, only about 1% of Black will commit a violent crime this year. I wouldn’t quite say that’s worth clutching your purse over.
But we’ve been convinced by Worldstar, Fox News, and even our own forward-thinkers like Al Sharpton that our crime is out of control, so we continue to gloss over glaring statistics that prove otherwise. Don’t get me wrong, crime is never okay, but also keep in mind that cameras don’t flock to people who drive the speed limit and pay tithes on Sunday. This broad brush they’re using to paint a picture of us is being dipped in quite a small bucket but the belief that it isn’t vouches for the illegitimate fear and subsequent disenfranchisement of young Black men.
That disenfranchisement leaks over to countless innocent Black men going to jail which leads to probation that keeps us from getting back into the work force afterwards. Despite the overwhelming reality that our unemployment rate is indeed high because of this factor and a few others, getting more jobs isn’t the answer. Creating jobs and supporting those who do is.
As a Black man, I see that as our greatest shortcoming. Not how we dress, not Black on Black crime, but instead the fact we would rather blow money on Ralph Lauren than combine that money to buy land and put businesses on it. Businesses that directly nourish our own communities instead of the communities we’re being gentrified out of to be secluded in poverty.
Black men can always do better, but we’ll never be as bad as what they make us seem. They can only make us seem that way if we continue believing them and disregarding our real issues to focus on the ones they’ve manufactured.
Derrick Jaxn is an author, poet, and lifestyle blogger from Enterprise, AL by way of Rocky Mount, NC. In just one year, the author of the novel, A Cheating Man’s Heart has elevated his personal blog http://www.derrickjaxn.com to a lifestyle platform that has garnered him over 110,000 social media followers and readers with 80,000 Facebook “LIKES” alone.
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