Teach the Children … Badly

By Patrick Hall

We in the African American community have cried wolf so often, that we have inadvertently made our own neighborhoods more unsafe. If the police hesitate to act against the violence and incivility in many inner-city communities who can really blame them.” Commonweal Magazine, February 13, 1998.

I wrote those words over two decades ago in Commonweal. It was before the media coined the phrase “the Ferguson Effect” to describe the growing hesitancy on the part of law enforcement to confront the criminal element within the black community that prey upon law-abiding citizens. The police are fearful of being charged with, dragged into court, or have their lives destroyed because of racist police's false narrative (or lie). A narrative that BLM, Antifa have successfully propagated, and sadly parroted by both President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and their declaration to the world community that America is systemically racist.  Despite his and Vice-President Harris’ efforts to walk back their comments, America is a systemically racist country. The damage was already done.

Either out of spite or flat-out ignorance, many within the Democrat political class believe that America is a systemically racist country and by extension, the police have been portrayed as the enforcement arm of this institutional malfeasance.  That is the mantra that has been successfully messaged to many blacks from all social classes. It is the most pernicious and culturally destructive lie that the Democrat Party employs. In reality, the police aren’t indiscriminately killing anyone, much less black people. As I pointed out in the 1990s, the day-to-day threat that persists in many inner-city communities doesn't come from the police but from kinetic criminal activity mostly generated by black males.

But there is another cultural devolution within a large segment of African American community that doesn’t get the coverage that it should from those who scream the loudest about systemic racism, police brutality, and the potpourri of social justice myths that motivates the America-is-bad-crowd.

Here is something you will seldom hear uttered from all the experts in leftist academia, CNN-NPR-BBC media cluster, and social justice warriors like Black Lives Matter, Hollywood, and Sports celebs. Too many young black people (and not so young) are being taught to disrespect, adopt an aggressive posture, not to listen, and in many cases totally ignore requests from law enforcement. An entire segment of the black underclass has been tutored, not to afford a basic comportment of respect or compliance to law enforcement when these officials go about performing their everyday tasks.

In most, if not all the high-profile cases such as Michael Brown in Ferguson or even the tragic George Floyd episode, they all began with the police stopping a criminal suspect, which escalated into the horrendous theatre that ensued. However, in many of these high-profile (yet rare) cases, these individuals sought not to comply with the police. Once again, these parties were only stopped in the first place because of some previous or real-time criminal activity.  

Speaking with police officers over the last two decades, even the simplest and “routine” stops made by police officers in the administration of their street duties, are often met with defiance or an obstinate attitude that they (that is young black men) are somehow above the law.  Subsequently, this makes law enforcement and neighborhood civility almost impossible in many inner-city communities. The larger socio-political culture has literally brainwashed or taught many young blacks to fear the police, which feeds the anomie underpinning police and black interactions.  

The so-called profiling and open killing of black men have more to do with life decisions, lack of proper mentoring, the devolution of the family structure within the black underclass, accompanied with the fracturing of basic civic behavior, that has been lost or never even been taught in Post-Civil Rights America. Sadly, civic behavior in many within the black community's urban catechism is often viewed as "acting white."

Too many blacks are engaged in illegal activities (like Jacob Blake, Michael Brown, or George Floyd), which often contact the police. The potential of something going sideways has been ginned up by the cultural left's blatantly false narrative of racist law enforcement. This toxic way of thinking and behavior toward the police has been injected into a large portion of the black community. As a result, many blacks exhibit a behavioral response to the police that borders on Pavlovian.

Law enforcement’s thin-blue-line of protection, which most of us socialized in basic civic conduct, is and has always been a reciprocal relationship. This fragile, if not tenuous, reciprocity between the police and the communities they serve, has been arbitrarily undermined by defiant demeanor on the part of many young men, black elites like Lebron James or former President Obama, ESPN sports analysts, the neo-Marxist BLM movement, as well as the Democratic Party and their corporate media.  They pay little for propagating the false storyline that the police bear the primary responsibility in restoring respect for the law in an increasingly dysfunctional social fabric that percolates within a growing segment of the black community.  

From a micro-relational standpoint, many street-level officers charged with maintaining civil society are reporting being met with recalcitrant behavior for the slightest questioning of individuals in neighborhood’s that Democrat Liberal Progressives, both black or white, wouldn’t be caught dead in.  Mouthing off, walking or running away, when told to stop, and other pejorative actions that now proceed routine police stops are being dangerously, “you-tubed-up” by the cultural left for the sole purpose of leveraging the political currency surrounding such events.

Oh, by the way!  Blacks have .00036% chance of being fatally shot by law enforcement. Yet blacks are responsible for over 52% of all homicide nationwide. Blacks are also responsible for 87% of all black homicides. FBI Crime statistics from 2018 record over 7407 black homicide; 91% were killed by other blacks.  Since 2018, black-on-black murders are on pace to continue this self-inflicted carnage. But these statistical realities are not the big vote getters for Democrats and the legions of race autocrats that encourage the racist police lie. Organizations such as the NAACP, Congressional Black Caucus, NAN, BLM, as well as the lunacy of the Defund-the-Police catechumenates are simply making things worse, if not deadly, for the very people they claim to care about.

Recent comments about racism and law enforcement pontificated by Michelle Obama from her (police and secret services secured) compound in Martha’s Vineyard, were typical of cultural elites, who don’t have to worry about being robbed or killed by criminal lowlifes, that continue to destroy the civility in many black communities.  Michelle and others like her have the convenience and security to castigate our men and women in blue while playing the part of the really hip and culturally connected social justice warriors. It cost them so very little. They use their bully pulpits to consistently propagate half-truths, and distortions concerning racism and law enforcement, especially to young black men. Therefore, one is left to wonder if the former First Lady is still proud of America... for the first time!

[Patrick is a retired University Library Director. He is graduate of Canisius College and the University of Washington where he earned Masters Degrees in Religious Studies Education, Urban Anthropology and Library and Information Science.  Mr. Hall has also completed additional course work at the University of Buffalo, Seattle University and St. John Fishers College of Rochester New York. He has published in several national publications such as Commonweal, America, Conservative Review, Headway, National Catholic Reporter, and American Libraries. He has published in the peer reviewed publications, Journal of Academic Librarianship and the Internet Reference Services Quarterly. From 1997 until his retirement in January 2014 he served on the Advisory Board of Urban Library Journal, a CUNY Publication.]

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