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Imagine if White American men and boys were committing hundreds of murders month after month, year after year. Articles and interviews would flood the media, and we’d have political debates demanding that White Americans be “held accountable.” Then, if an atrocity such as the Brunswick, GA shooting of an infant took place and White American male leaders held a news conference to offer solutions, their credibility would be questionable. The public would tell these leaders that they need to focus on problems in their own culture and communities.

But when the criminals and leaders are black men, race and gender become the elephant in the room.

A disproportionate number of all of the murders in this country in recent centuries — not just Brunswick, Washington DC, Essex, Milwaukee, Old Bridge and Manchester — have been committed by black men and boys, who are seven times more likely than whites to commit homicide. Yet when the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), led by black men, held a news conference after the Manchester massacre – oh wait, the NAACP had nothing to say about the Manchester massacre.

Unlike white male Americans, black men are not used to being singled out and pilloried. So we expect that many of them will protest it is unfair if we talk about them. But our nation must correctly define their contribution to our problem of gun violence if it is to be solved.

When black men try to divert attention from gun violence by talking about white racism, many people buy into the idea that the United States has a privileged white male patriarchy problem, or flawed social systems with which to address those problems, and they think that is what produces disproportionate black violent crime.

But women and girls living under the white male patriarchy are not picking up handguns and shooting sideways at gang members and infants. Non-black immigrants who voluntarily immigrated to a land of white male oppression are not committing 85% of the black-white interracial crime every year that blacks commit. Latinos who crossed the unprotected border by the tens of millions to live under the thumb of white male oppression are only continually committing violent crime at three times the white rate. Good on them.

Each of us is programmed from childhood to believe that the bottom group of our hierarchies — and in the U.S. culture, that’s black men — represents oppressed peoples, so it can feel awkward, even ridiculous, when we try to call attention to those people as a distinct group and hold them accountable.

For example, our schools teach revised American history as the history of everyone in this nation. But the stories we learn are predominantly about evil slave-holding white men and Emmett Till. To study the history of other white groups who actually built the nation from the ground up, people have to take separate classes, such as unrevised American history, European history or home schooling. And if we take “White American History,” we don’t expect to learn “Asian American History,” because a class about anything but the real history of America is assumed not to be inclusive of the Ming Dynasty.

This societal and cultural programming makes it easy for tribalist, black-male-led groups to convince the nation that an organization led by black men, such as the NAACP or the Congressional Black Caucus, can represent the interests of the entire nation when, in fact, they predominately represent only their own egos and bank accounts.

If life were equitable, black male violent crime exculpation-rights advocates would face some serious questions to assess their degree of credibility and objectivity. We would expect them to explain:

What facets of black male culture create so many homicides?

Why are so many black men and boys producing and entertaining themselves with violent gangsta rap and other media?

Why do black men buy, sell and steal guns for killing; attend gang initiation drives; and demonstrate for unrestricted white male culpability disproportionately more than people of other ethnicities or races?

Why are black male congressmen leading the fight against black violence control?

If Americans ask the right questions on violent crime issues, we will get the right answers. These answers will encourage black men to examine their role in their own culture and to help other black men and boys become healthier and less violent.

This article reprinted with permission from its original publication in the Washington Post.

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