“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate,” Cool Hand Luke. “I’m so glad I would kiss the captain’s feet . . . now my child can actually play in the park.” Eukeysha Gregory, after the arrest of 120 gang members in the “largest gang takedown” in New York City history.
In a speech a friend sent me, conservative writer Heather MacDonald excoriated the Black Lives Matter movement for “the current frenzy against the police” and the ensuing rise in urban crime, calling it a smokescreen to evade the “taboo topic” and “uncomfortable truth” of black-on-black crime. Since Macdonald can be a poster woman for the unapologetic right – opposing food stamps and welfare, minimizing campus rape, defending religious profiling and torture – I was reflexively prepared to dismiss her arguments.
But I can’t.
Yes, there’s much to disagree with. She paints with a broad brush, simplifying and vilifying a complex movement. And she ignores the personal experiences of a legal system riddled with racial injustice described by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Between the World and Me), Michelle Alexander (The New Jim Crow) and Bryan Stevenson (Just Mercy).
So who’s right? For Eukeysha Gregory, black-on-black crime is not a taboo subject. Nor was it for my late friend, Charity Hicks, who witnessed “a generation of young [Detroit] men so marginalized they would kill you without thinking about it.”
If we talk only to those with whom we agree, we end up choosing sides and standing in judgment above the fray. Our political purity is intact, although our neighborhoods may be burning. If we really want solutions, we need to open our minds and our hearts.