This band had a beautiful and talented 15 year-old majorette who was an honor student and planned to spend time in Paris as part of an exchange program.
On January 29th, after returning back to Chicago, she stood in Vivian Gordon Harsh park with her classmates, who were just released early from an exam, when an 18-year old gunman hopped a fence and opened fire at the group, believing he spotted a rival gang member.
The young girl was hit in the back by a stray bullet never meant for her, and she died. Her name was Hadiya Pendleton. Two years after her death, the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners approved a request to rename nearby Buckthorn Park after Hadiya.
And it was inside that very same park that 17-year old Vonzell Banks was shot to death this past weekend while playing basketball with his friends. And the most frustrating part of it all is that he was not the only person to tragically lose his life this past weekend in Chicago, where shootings injured 53 people and cost nine their lives, including Amari Brown, a seven-year-old boy who caught a bullet intended for his gang-associated father.
Unfortunately, as a West Indian citizen, this type of violence is not new to me. Much of my extended family and my closest friends are Jamaican, and I remember how just 10 years ago, Jamaica had the highest murder rate in the world. On an island with 2.6 million people, 1,674 citizens were murdered, equaling a rate of 58 per 100,000 people (in the same year, Chicago, a city of 2.8 million people had 446 murders, equaling a rate of 15 per 100,000).
When this brutality engulfed segments of Jamaica a decade ago, local natives and former residents living abroad bandied about many theories on why crime was occurring at such a high rate and what the possible solutions could be. Of all the professional and colloquial terms that were brought up in town halls, TV news panels and opinion articles, there was one term that was noticeably absent: “black-on-black crime.”
On the surface, lazy intellectualism would have you believe that’s because 92 percent of Jamaica is black, therefore eliminating the need to point out the ethnicity of who is committing the crime and who it’s being committed against since, there’s a nine out of ten chance they’re both black.
But there’s a far deeper reason why the term “black-on-black violence” is not used in Jamaica: Because analyzing the skin color of perpetrators and victims, in most cases, gives absolutely zero context to the nature of the crime and the systemic problems that lead to it.
The term “black on black crime” or “black on black violence” is a nothingness phrase. It is the height of prejudice in non-blacks who wax poetic with faux-philosophical insight and also self-hate in the black folks who throw that term around as if its mere mention is grounded in some type of mind-blowing truth.