Coard

— Credit: colorlines.com / Hatty Lee and Shani O. Hilton

Last weekend, 28 persons were shot and five of them were killed in 19 separate incidents throughout the city. That means, so far this year, 625 persons were shot and 135 of them were killed. And during that time, approximately 2,000 guns were confiscated by police.

By the way, nearly all of the people shot, wounded, or killed and nearly all of the people shooting and possessing seized guns were young Black men in Black neighborhoods.

This proves that young Black men in the hood are violent thugs, actually monsters. End of story. Class dismissed.

But wait just a minute. Get back in your seats. I almost forgot to mention the following.

You all remember Mary Shelley’s 1818 book, “Frankenstein,” which was later widely popularized in several different movie versions. Despite the fact that the novel’s been around for over 200 years and 57 films pertaining to it have been made, most people mistakenly think the creature’s name is Frankenstein. But it’s not. That creature had no name. People confused it with its creator, the evil European scientist named Dr. Victor Frankenstein. Today’s Back so-called thugs/monsters are created by the evil American system that miseducates them, unemploys them, underemploys them, over-polices them, and over-incarcerates them. America is Dr. Victor Frankenstein.

Allow me to give a personal example. I was born and raised in North Philly, which, for the most part, was and still is poverty-stricken. But while in the third grade at an under-resourced Black neighborhood school, I got lucky and did well on a citywide test. As a result, I was admitted into Masterman — one of the top schools in the country and, by the way, was and still is predominantly white. Consequently, because of a great education stemming from great academic resources at a great school, I was directly on my way to college and law school.

But what happened to Smitty and Patty who had sat next to and behind me at that North Philly school? And what happened to all the other Black students there and at similar under-resourced Black schools in poverty-stricken Black neighborhoods throughout the country? I’ll tell you what happened to most of them. They got passed from grade to grade like an assembly line product despite having learned nothing or dropped out of school due to scholastically indifferent and culturally undermining teachers. Either way, they were unprepared for employment, trade school, college and life itself.

And if they weren’t “lucky” enough to find less than minimum wage dead-end jobs, they had to resort to welfare. And if they weren’t able to qualify for welfare or if welfare continued to keep them mired in abject poverty, many of them would try to escape life’s harsh realities through ever-increasing drug use that would lead to petty crime and then to more serious crime resulting in convictions. Following certain convictions, they became ineligible for public housing, driver licenses and even menial employment. In the end, many of them resorted to violent crime by victimizing those in close proximity, i.e., their Black neighbors.

And this violent criminality is primarily the result of what Dr. Joy DeGruy diagnoses as “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome,” which is the tile of her seminal book about violent Black criminality. In it, she mentions “feelings of hopelessness, depression, and a general self-destructive outlook.” She also references a “marked propensity for anger and violence ... [especially directed] toward the members of one’s own ... cultural/ethnic group.” To paraphrase Brother Malcolm, “We have been and continue to be hoodwinked, bamboozled and led astray” by this racist (and classist) system, a system established and promoted by slavery, sharecropping, convict leasing, peonage labor, Jim Crow, de facto segregation, no education, miseducation, unemployment, underemployment, over-policing, mass incarceration, redlining and gentrification.

By the way, notwithstanding this troublesome issue of violent Black criminality, did you know that less than one percent of Black folks and only about 2 percent of Black men commit a violent crime in any given year? Well, the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics knows it and documented it.

And just in case you erroneously think the violent Black criminality that does exist is genetic as a Black thing, did you know that poor urban whites have a higher rate of violence toward each other at a rate of 56.4 per 1,000 compared to poor urban Blacks at a rate of 51.3 per 1,000? Well, the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics knows it and documented it. As an aside, why don’t people ever call white mass murders, white school shootings, and white serial killings “white-on-white” crime?” Hmm ...

Furthermore, the FBI points out that most murders involving a single victim and a single offender are committed by whites. Moreover, the Center for Disease Control notes, as reported by the L.A. Times, that “Rates of homicides, gun killings, and illicit drug fatalities are highest in counties where nine of ten residents are white and where President Trump won.” Nuff said.

Let’s get back to the recent rash of shootings in Philadelphia. Despite some of the respectable and understandable disagreements I — as a defense attorney — obviously have with Larry Krasner — as the top prosecutor — I gotta give him major credit for realizing that merely arresting people not only doesn’t help society, it actually hurts society. And that’s because you can’t give a life sentence for every crime, which means “criminals” will get out eventually, whether in a few years or a lotta years. And then what? That “criminal” comes back to society worse because prisons don’t rehabilitate. They simply warehouse. And the nearly $45,000 per year it costs to warehouse inmates in Pennsylvania state prisons are wasted because that amount could’ve and should’ve been used for schools and job training — which ultimately would’ve protected society by stopping juvenile delinquency and adult criminality before they even started.

Although as the District Attorney, Krasner’s impressively doing what he was overwhelmingly elected to do and is legally obligated to do — which is why, under his administration, prosecutors in 2018 approved nearly 99 percent of firearm cases presented to them by police thereby constituting more than what was approved by the previous DA in the two years before Krasner was sworn in — he realizes, as a genuine and pragmatic progressive, that violent street crime is a symptom of societal factors and must be thoughtfully treated as such.

Even Police Commissioner Richard Ross, as reported in The Inquirer on June 18, described the problems contributing to ongoing gun violence such as poverty, joblessness, or trauma as “fundamentally structural.”

Whether it’s described as “fundamentally structural” or, as I define it, “inherently systemic,” it nevertheless stems directly from the racism (along with the classism) that continues to serve as the foundation and policy of this country. If anyone believes I’m wrong, answer this question: “If you had to go to trial as a defendant in a criminal case and could choose to go as a Black defendant or a white defendant, which would you choose? Or, if you were going to a job interview for employment or to a bank for a home loan and could go as a Black applicant or a white applicant, which would you choose?” The obvious and honest answer is precisely why I use the word “racist” (as well as classist) to accurately define this system and to accurately explain the actual cause — as opposed to the mere symptom — of so-called Black criminality and to totally reject the myth of so-called “Black-on-Black” crime.

Michael Coard, Esquire can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. His “Radio Courtroom” show can be heard on WURD96.1-FM. And his “TV Courtroom” show can be seen on PhillyCam/Verizon/Comcast.

(2) comments

beyond714

Well said, Michael! (I'm a white guy!)

megacheck

I've been trying to explain the same thing to people for, what seems like, forever! Also, the VAST majority of crime is perpetrated by people of the same ethnicity as their victims. Yet we never hear the term, "White on White" crime!!!!

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