Today when I was browsing through my Twitter feed I saw a video of a man livid at the fact that black people in his neighbourhood were turning a blind eye to the fact that a black cop shot and killed a black man. Really his point of view was that people are so quick to call out white-on-black crime but fail to bring the much needed attention to black-on-black crime.
Any reasonable human being can tell that no incident is better than the other. Do not get me wrong, I am not trying to dim the light that is shone on the #blacklivesmatter movement. I am however trying to shine a light on the fact that the movement is not only about protecting us from racist acts but to also help us build a sense of unity and to be there for each other lock, stock and barrel. We cannot protest that we deserve to be treated as equally as white people and push our own sins under the rug as if they don’t matter because one of our own was in the wrong.
Why is it so easy for us to see the bad in other people but not in ourselves? I also came across a Buzzfeed video titled “27 Questions Black People Have For Black People” and it really opened my eyes to the fact that as much as we protect each other from our oppressors, we are not as good to each other as we honestly can be. In South Africa we have a principle that African people are said to live by, Ubuntu. This principle translates to “I am because we are” which simply means we as people have to embody traits that allow us to treat people in our communities with compassion and that allow us to be connected. It emphasises that when we exhibit good behaviour toward others, only then are we fully human. Ubuntu is a very deep-rooted word and this is just the condensed version of it.
The reason I brought this African principle up is because I truly think that it could do us justice if we embodied it. We should treat each other with the respect, love and support that we need before we look to other people to do so. While I do want us to act against black-on-black crime, I can also understand why people may want to keep it hidden. When a black person does wrong, it is somehow a reflection on the whole community which is of cause an unfair assessment. So we shelter it because we know that there are vultures out there waiting to latch on to whatever little reason to hate us, to dehumanize us and to incarcerate us.
At the end of it all, we need to do right by each other and for each other. We do that by dismantling the stigma that one bad act defines all of us, by not allowing us to hurt one another and by being as good as ever to each other.