The Crusader Newspaper Group


Lately, many African Americans are upset about the fact that a lot of stores in Black communities are becoming semi-fortresses with products locked up tighter than an inmate in a prison cell. Recently, at one particular store in a middle-class community, a customer wanted to purchase deodorant. She had to push a button to summon a clerk, who arrived after a short period to unlock the cabinet so that she could access the deodorant. The employee, rather than handing the deodorant to the customer, an African American senior citizen, told her to ask for the product when she checked out. In other words, he couldn’t hand it to her.

The miffed customer continued to shop for a few other items and then went to the checkout counter to complete her purchases. She asked for the deodorant, but for some reason, the pricing on the item wouldn’t register. She was then referred to another clerk who was waiting on another customer, so she had to wait until that customer was helped before having her items checked out.

By this time, the senior citizen was quite irritated, and complained about the poor service and what she viewed as shabby treatment. She questioned the employee about the process and explained that she had been shopping at that store for many years and had never been treated like a criminal prior to that experience. The clerk then told her that the store had become “crime central.” Another clerk joined in the discussion and said that they are repeatedly ripped off, and that is why their procedures have changed so drastically.

This store happened to be in the same community where recently, in a segment of the community usually thought of as being safe, there was a shoot-out. The windows of a well-regarded Black-owned store were shot out, and the owners said they were going to leave the community. They have not re-opened. The shoot-out also took place in front of another well-regarded Black-owned store, and a well-known Black community activist barely missed being a casualty of the bullets whizzing past him.

This community has recently been in the process of a serious upgrade, with new hotels and services, but it has also witnessed groups of youth wilding out and intimidating people with their behavior. For whatever reason, these youth are often given a pass, and excuses are made for their actions.

With this set of circumstances demonstrated in so-called middle-class communities, it doesn’t take much to imagine what conditions exist in poorer neighborhoods. And lately, some incredible situations have occurred, usually with rampant violence.

People do not feel safe; some are losing their lives at the hands of people who know them. Interestingly, when these conditions are pointed out, some Black people become irate, saying that there is “no such thing as Black-on-Black crime.” They are clearly in denial.

On another front, President Biden has grown some backbone and put a full court press behind the voting rights bill, which failed to pass, and the outlook of its passage in the near future is bleak, if pundits are to be believed. This leaves the situation in America truly tenuous for Black people. Incredibly, African Americans stand to lose voting rights, AND, at the same time, are targeted by members of their own communities. This is double jeopardy; Black people are caught between a rock and a proverbial hard place.

Ultimately, the fate of the Black community in America will depend upon actions that take place on two fields at the same time: they must demand justice and fairness from America but must also demand clean and safe communities.

For example, if tomorrow all police brutality ceased and voting rights are guaranteed, Black people are still faced with what happens in Black communities. There are new reports that a Black woman is killed every six hours, and is trending toward every five hours in our communities. If this is true, it is unacceptable!

As long as people remain in denial about the true conditions in our communities, we will end up totally disenfranchised, with our overall survival at stake. We must fight on two fronts: at home and in the broader society. We must vanquish both the enemies from without and those within if we are to triumph. It is up to us to do this. A Luta Continua.



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