Although the rate of black on black homicide dropped from the rates of crack-fueled 90's, according to FBI statistics murder of black males under 20 is still the number the number one cause of death, nor is it any surprise that the majority of those numbers are gun related homicides.
While the Black makes up 13% of the population, it experiences 49.3% of the total murders and is imprisoned 3200 out of 100,000 of its own population.[i] Since 2000, the number of murders of African-American teenagers rose 26% to 746 murders in 2007, a stark difference in overall homicide percentage over the same time of 7.4%, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Uniform Crime Reports.[ii]
Recently, various black leaders have called upon President Barack Obama to help the African American community deal with the issue and at first, it seems a perfect match—first black President resolving a problem in the African American community—but the apparent obviousness of such a solution has little reality.
With over 25% of the African American community living in poverty, 16% unemployed and a 41% high school dropout rate among black males, some of the sources of the problem are already identifiable. Nevertheless, the idea of any Presidential involvement is wishful thinking at best and a failure to confront the most obvious answer—self-regulation.
Self-regulation means many things, but among them are greater involvement with the police, identification of suspects and cleaning up known crime areas. Recognizing that any of these actions can bring retaliation it is highly understandable why there is so little cooperation, thus reducing the chances of law enforcement making arrests. Of course, the adversarial relationship with police in African American and Latino has been a two-way street where the police have demonstrated poor police work and insensitivity.
Add to that the US cultural hang-up with "snitches" especially in the black community; it is little wonder that gun murders remain high among African American males under 20. For the police it is a game of ask, but do not expect tell. According to FBI statistics, anonymous tips are enormously helpful with the apprehension of felons and interestingly enough arrests of those criminals commonly occur within their own community.
Recently, Reverend Jesse Jackson called on President Obama to address the problems of black on black murder in Chicago. While well intentioned and an opportunity to focus a spotlight on a major problem in the African American community, until leaders, neighbors and social groups bring their attention to helping instead of hindering, black felons will continue to believe they have a safe haven at home.
Even disregarding the thousands of studies available on the subjects of causes of crime, the number one answer is poverty in some manner. Bringing people out of poverty with jobs and education help cut crime, but making that happen is an entirely different discussion. Again, solving the issues related with poverty could eventually end the problem, but because of politics, that solution is in the hands of those who care more about getting credit for it than solving the issue. The suggestion for self-policing should not be taken lightly because violent repercussions more than likely will result sending a message not to cooperate, but cooperation is the only way.
Meanwhile, the body count continues.