Black Men, You’re Headed for Self-Destruction

By Todd A. Smith

          In 1988, hip-hop legend KRS-One of Boogie Down Productions started the Stop the Violence Movement by recording the song “Self-Destruction,” with an all-star cast of East Coast rappers to raise awareness of the epidemic of Black-on-Black crime plaguing inner-cities across the country.

            Kool Moe Dee rapped in his timeless verse, “Back in the sixties our brothers and sisters were hanged, how could you gang-bang?  I never ever ran from the Ku Klux Klan and I shouldn’t have to run from a Black man cause that’s self destruction, ya headed for self-destruction.”

            Despite warnings of the consequences of Black-on-Black crime over 20 years ago, many Black males have not heeded the warnings and have subsequently destroyed their life and those of countless others in the process.

            On December 29, 2008, criminologists at Northeastern University in Boston released a study that showed while the overall number of murders has decreased among all Americans; the numbers of murders amongst young Black males has drastically increased since 2000.  The numbers include victims as well as the suspects of Black-on-Black crime.

            “Although the overall rate of homicide in the United States remains relatively low, the landscape is quite different for countess Americans living, and some dying, in violence-invested neighborhoods, said criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern.

            The statistics reveal that 426 Black males between the ages of 14 and 17 were murdered, a 40 percent increase from 2000.  Furthermore, 964 people in that same demographic were responsible for murders in 2007, a 38 percent increase. 

According to the Houston Chronicle, Houston ranks as the city with the highest rate of Black-on-Black crime, with 129 Black men murdered from 2006-2007, a drastic increase from 2000-2001 when 42 Black men were murdered in the city.

            In newspapers and websites throughout the country, people will read about different causes for the epidemic of Black-Black on crime.  You will read about George W. Bush’s grant cuts to local police and juvenile crime prevention and Barack Obama’s plan to reduce inner-city crime, as reported in Regal Magazine on October 28, 2008; but that is not the only solution.  You will read about the lack of Black fathers being the cause of the high incarceration rates and Black-on-Black crime as reported in Regal Magazine on July 24, 2007; but that is not only the cause.

            No matter what Obama and Joe Biden accomplish on Pennsylvania Avenue in regards to crime prevention, the epidemic of Black-on-Black crime will not subside without an injection of love amongst all Blacks in this country.  The same love, pride and unity that we showed towards Obama and each other during the presidential campaign has to transfer to our everyday lives in order for us to reduce Black-on-Black crime.

            To some it may sound like airing our dirty laundry, but Black people have historically showed a lack of love towards ourselves and to each other.  Unfortunately, when a Black person becomes successful and enjoys an upper-class or upper-middle-class lifestyle, it is usually another Black person who attempts to “put them in their place.”  As a youth, I constantly saw my parents looked down upon by other Black Americans because through hard work, determination and faith, they were able to give their children the luxuries that they could not afford as children.  They were able to move their family into a country club community. They were able to drive luxury cars and wear designer clothes, and as my mother emphasizes, shoes that fit because she was forced to were shoes that were too small because the ones that fit her narrow feet were too expensive for my grandparents to afford.

            The haters did not know how scared my mother was to go through the cafeteria in college because she knew my grandmother had missed a payment on her deferred tuition.  They do not know how my father had to “steal sleep,” by bunking in the dormitory rooms of his fraternity brothers because he could not afford room and board for his final semester.  The haters simply see the end result and are determined to knock anyone that has more than them off “their pedestal.” 

            However, members of that same fraternity would look down upon me and anyone with more as if success and prosperity equaled elitism.  That hate led one member of the fraternity to intentionally disfigure my fraternity brand in a pathetic display of jealousy and his own inferiority complex.  However, that same hate has to stop somewhere and love for one other has to take its place if we are to achieve anything as a community.

            The epidemic of Black-on-Black crime will never cease unless our hatred to one another ceases.  As Chuck D of Public Enemy stated in his verse on “Self-Destruction,” “Yes we urge to merge we live for the love of our people, the hope that they get along.  Getting the point to our brothers and sisters who don’t know the time; it’s dead in your head, you know, I’ll drive to build and collect ourselves with intellect.  To revolve, to evolve to self-respect, cause we got to keep ourselves in check or else it’s self-destruction.”

    To discuss Black-on-Black crime and other topics visit

Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.

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