It is the month of September and whether you are aware or not, this year’s death toll in Chicago just reached over 500! Stories of young black men in poverty stricken communities, brandishing guns and harnessing a belief that they have no future is what defines black men’s peculiar relationship with aggression.
Black on black killings keep occurring at alarming rates across the country. Look at Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Dallas, New York, Cincinnati, Detroit, and especially Chicago. Here’s a fact to ponder on: Chicago’s death toll from 2001–November, 26 2015 stands at 7,401. Now, compare that number to the combined total deaths during Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2015: 4,815) and Operation Enduring Freedom/Afghanistan (2001-2015: 3,506), total 8,321.
These are black lives being wasted and these black lives should have mattered to someone. Could the black man’s hyper-masculinity be the culprit? Buried within the lyrics of our favorite rap song is the over exaggeration of male stereotypical behavior portraying aggression and sexuality. In a ghetto, young adolescents look up to the lifestyle being portrayed in the music they listen to and when they embrace the type of lifestyle of a rapper, it often ends in death over something as petty as feeling disrespected when someone accidentally bumps into you or steps on your $400 pair of Jordans.
Dr. James Wadely explains to Black Doctor how he developed his relationship with aggression.
“Well, upon reflection, I just remembered some of the messages I got growing up regarding how compromise or walking away is not an option (that still happens today for many youth). Here are some of the items that I learned as an adolescent and young adult:”
1. “You can’t be a real man if you show humility or weakness at any moment of time.”
2. “Never allow anyone to disrespect you.”
3. “Don’t be anybody’s punk.”
4. “Snitches get stitches.”
5. “Don’t talk to anyone when something is wrong.”
6. “Man up and don’t act like a bitch.”
7. “Take care of you and yours at all costs.”
8. “You better come strapped.”
9. “Don’t make me pop my trunk.”
10. “Better him to go [die] than me.”
But we can’t place all the blame on rap songs. We have to face the music and really look deeper into why the black male is more aggressive than his white counterpart. Writer Darryl Robertson reminds us of his thoughts as a youth. “For years I believed that I’d be confined to a life as a drug dealer, a prison number or just a regular man holding down a 9-5. It took a life-changing event—which I’m not comfortable discussing here—for me to decide to pursue a real career outside of the streets. He explains that the ‘hood is filled with young men who are clueless to the fact that there’s life outside of the ghetto. And I know this because there was a long period of my life when I had no idea that I could go to college and pursue a career as a writer — and history professor. Yes, I knew universities existed. But no one told me that I could go to college. And no one where I’m from went to college. So, college wasn’t real to me. Nor was it for people of my background, I thought.”
The senseless black on black killings need to stop and we as a people need to dig deeper to find the root cause of the aggressive nature and violent behaviors of our black youth.