We can do hard things. Let’s talk.

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But if Black Lives Matter so much then why are they killing each other?

This seems to be a real popular argument when black folks complain about police brutality. I’m struggling to wrap my brain around the logic behind “that drive-by means you forfeit your right to object to the police shooting black men at an alarming rate” but whatever. Let’s deal with what we’ve got.

Black-on-black crime. That sounds bad, right? Who’s gonna argue black-on-black crime is a good thing.

Except it’s a misdirect.

You see, FBI statistics for 2016 show that 90.1% of black people were murdered by other black people. But 83.5% of white people were murdered by – wait for it – other white people.

America still exists as a largely segregated society, and data shows that victims typically know their assailants. Statistical evidence proves that, just as with blacks, whites are mostly victimized by other whites and the vast majority of white murders are committed by – again – other white people. But nobody sees Janet clutching her pearls while she bemoans “white-on-white” crime.

No one discusses white-on-white crime because it doesn’t fit the narrative. “But what about black-on-black crime?” is designed to pivot the conversation, to turn the attention away from a very real danger black men face every day by putting the spotlight on crime statistics that are, frankly, unrelated to the conversation at hand.

Because if I say Eric Garner should never have ended up dead over selling loose cigarettes and you come at me with black-on-black crime…that isn’t the point.

Because if I say Tamir Rice‘s parents should not have had to bury their 12-year-old son because he had a pellet gun and the lack of accountability is infuriating but you come at me with black-on-black crime made the police officers nervous…that’s not the point.

Because if I say Walter Scott did not deserve to die for fleeing unarmed from a traffic stop and you come at me with but black-on-black crime…THAT IS NOT THE FREAKING POINT.

What you’re really saying with “but black-on-black crime” is since black folks are already killing themselves off why should officers be held accountable for police brutality on-the-job incidents? I mean, the blacks are already cutting their own numbers, what’s a few more by the boys in blue.

If that sounds flippant it’s because the argument is asinine, and the sooner we all recognize that the closer we’ll be to treating every human life as worthy.


The Small Bites series breaks down tough conversations into manageable pieces. I hope you come into this space with an open mind. For my part, I know now what I didn’t know in my twenties and thirties, but I don’t yet know what I don’t yet know. Thanks to those who are willing to share their thoughts and perspectives in the comments.

You can find other entries by selecting small bites in the drop down menu under “series posts.”