Dear Black (Brown) folks:
FIVE beautiful children have been murdered by gun violence in the last two weeks in Chicago. Rightfully, everyone wants “justice” and for someone to turn in the shooter.
The thing that is the hardest for Black folks, is to humanize criminals. We have drunk the kool-aid about “super-predators” and “thugs are animals” and, often, we want to lock up our Black criminals more than White folks!
But, have you noticed that when White killers, especially when they are White children who kill, White communities understand humanity and complexity? And, factually we know that white folks kill white folks at the same rate that black folks kill black folks. (and brown folks). Yet, somehow, we, Black folks, have lost our ability to see that our “thugs” or “shooters” are complex folks who, while they need to answer for their actions, also need the benefit of the doubt when it comes to public scorn.
Yes, we need to find the person/people responsible for killing these children. But we also need to ask these inconvenient, but crucial questions, as we think about whoever is responsible.
  1. What if the shooter of the murdered children, is also a child?
  2. What if the shooter of the children, was a child that is one of the thousands of children that are wards of the state and have been discarded during the COVID crisis?
  3. What if the shooter is a paranoid schizophrenic who has been in quarantine with no access to a doctor or medication?
  4. If the shooter was a mother who was suffering from postpartum depression and no access to health care or medication because of quarantine?
  5. What if the shooter was a straight A student, with a full college scholarship, and made a terrible decision to hang was with friends when this shooting happened?
  6. What if the shooter had their child murdered by the family of the murdered child and decided this was the only way to get justice because the police wouldn’t/couldn’t/didn’t make an arrest?
  7. What if truly was an accident and the person with the gun had no idea it was really loaded.
  8. What if the shooter was bullied at school and felt like no one cared?
  9. What if the gun was legally registered to the parents of the shooter? Are the parents responsible?
  10. Is prison the best form of justice? Is there something else that can be done, that can be healing for both the families and our communities?
I know, I know, I need to stop talking about this stuff when it comes to kids being shot. It is just that White folks manage to have these complex conversations and ask these questions when White children shoot up a school full of 1st graders.


I don’t know the right response to inner-city crime.

I don’t know the right response to inner-city crime.
I don’t know the right response to inner-city crime.
But I know the answer is not jails and prisons.
I believe in the possibility of goodness and redemption for every person.
Lastly, I know the danger of rhetoric from Black folks to politicians about “fixing/stopping,” “out of control Black/Brown inner-city youths with guns” and how they lead to destructive policies in our communities.
Again, I don’t know the right answer but I know our current justice system isn’t it.
I write all this in love because I love us, for real.  And, I want Black folks to be liberated, free, and allowed to thrive.
*All of my questions are based on real situations.
eradicating racism is hard and I want us to have the hard conversations, instead of knee-jerk reactions that further harm our community.

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