If we’ve learned nothing from the historic Million Man March –where African American men became the first group of people to launch a protest march against themselves– we found out that the government and mainstream Americans will never stop large numbers of Negroes from confessing their collective sins in full public view. The problem is that, instead of inspiring policymakers to support our efforts, such actions reinforce the absurd notion that violence and poverty can be eliminated by embracing a gospel of individual responsibility. In this case, by agreeing to “take back our neighborhoods” we concede the point that we lost them solely due to our own personal failings.
The last time I checked, joblessness and crack had something to do with it too.
Rather than demanding higher wages, better schools, and stricter gun laws, the current plan absolves the government of its responsibility to protect our most vulnerable citizens. For example, even if we are to accept the quixotic idea that ten thousand unarmed civilians can make peace within inner-city war zones, couldn’t we expect even greater results from ten thousand trained officers? Unfortunately, the current initiative makes no such demands from the State.
The obvious solution, and the one Hill advocates, is to do both -- personally work to reduce violence and crime in our own neighborhoods, while also demanding that society at large do its part to remedy the structural forces holding back urban communities: lack of jobs, rundown and inadequate educational facilities, and economic isolation, to name a few. Certainly, personal responsibility is one plank in the bridge that will lead America to a just racial solution -- but a bridge with one plank is not very useful, no matter how solid it may be. A total solution is what's needed, and anybody who tries to look at the problem from a single angle -- be it totally structural, or totally personal, is going to come up short.