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Black-on-black violence: Will it ever end?

By Angela Harris
On March 22, 2010

In a six-month span, I lost two male friends, Michael and Cody, because of senseless violence.

Michael was a loving father and recent college graduate. Cody was a college student with a lust for life. Two very different souls with a very similar story; both were under the age of 25 when they were killed by other black males.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading cause of death for black males ages 15-34 is homicide. A Heritage Foundation study reported African-American males who reside in eight of the nation's largest urban communities, including New Orleans, were most vulnerable to early death by homicide. It's absolutely heart-breaking to see these figures and know that our black men are the ones taking other black men from us.

Michael Motte was a 24-year-old college graduate and father of two young children when he was murdered. Motte was leaving Harlon's Barbecue in Nacogdoches, Texas, when a young, black male, Nickevette Carey, is accused of shooting him three times. Michael later died at the hospital. Carey's alleged motive for killing Motte was robbery.

In grade school, we're always taught on the playground, don't snitch. If you snitch, you're the lowest of the low, and that's worse than being the kid who eats his boogers. Unfortunately, that perspective carries over into adulthood in some African American neighborhoods, and that same perspective has left many murders unanswered and many families left to deal with the grief of losing their loved ones and not being able to bring their killer to justice.

A dear friend of mine, Cody Harris, was a 21-year-old college student in Houston when he was killed in November 2009. The exact details surrounding Cody's death are still unclear, and the only person who knows what truly happened is his former roommate, who is refusing to talk to the police.

 I believe in staying out of people's business and keeping your mouth shut about matters that you are not involved in, but I drop that belief when it comes to helping police solve a murder. The pain that Cody's parents are going through could be eased if they knew the person who killed their only child was being brought to justice.

What happened to the days when you fought about a problem and then it was over? When did senseless killing come into style? When did our young, black males start thinking that carrying a gun and acting hard made them men?

These sad stories are only examples of what is happening every day in the nation; young black men killing other young black men as if they don't realize there is no coming back from that. Not only have they taken the life of a person that they didn't create, but they have shattered families, broken friends' hearts, done detriment to their own souls and ruined their lives if caught by the police. It makes me wonder: When will these senseless killings end? If they ever will.

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said, "A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." Likewise, change in our communities must start with the individual. Each of us must ensure that we find the root of our anger, if that's an issue, and work to get beyond it. We must not condone the "don't ask, don't tell" philosophy about crime in our neighborhoods. And we must reach out to our young males in large ways and small to offer better odds to the next generation.


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