Ebony’s “Trayvon” Covers and the Black-on-Black Crime Argument

Ebony magazine has announced that this September issue will showcase four different covers dedicated to the impact of the Trayvon Martin tragedy. The covers will feature famous celebrities Boris Kodjoe, Spike Lee and Dwayne Wade along with their sons and Trayvon’s family. Each cover will have the words “We Are Trayvon” displayed in red. Alternet explains what this September’s issue will discuss:

The issue is largely dedicated to Trayvon, but its pages feature larger conversations considering the notion of race in contemporary America, with an article about racial profiling, interviews with the cover subjects detailing how they approach the topic of race with their sons (who will likely be profiled.) The issue even features a poem dedicated to Trayvon, written by spoken work artist Jill Scott.

As woefully expected the covers did not sit well with those who still blame Trayvon’s death on Trayvon himself as seen on Twitchy, a right-wing news site owned by Michelle Malkin. This is what they said about this issue’s covers:

It’s much easier to slap on a hoodie and pretend to fight for social justice than to recognize a black American is more likely to be murdered by another black American than some “White Hispanic” man.

That comment alone was enough to spark a rumor throughout social media that the Tea Party plans to boycott Ebony. It was big enough to prompt Ebony’s editor-and-chief Amy Barnett to respond accordingly:

“We simply cannot allow the conversations on this issue to come to a standstill. As the leading source for an authoritative perspective on the African-American community, at Ebony we are committed to serving as a hub for Black America to explore solutions, and to giving readers the information and tools they need to help ensure a bright future for all of our children.”

Even though the rumor was shown to be a colossal farce, it’s still a punch in the gut in the conversation we need to have. Since day one, the response from numerous people over this tragedy is that the black community should stop obsessing over Trayvon’s murder, and that we all should collectively focus on black-on-black crime which – in their inarguable opinion – a much more important problem.

Martin-Family-Ebony-Magazine-September-2013Here’s how it is when it comes to the usual narrative from the right: Interracial crime where blacks are victims are incredibly rare. However, intra-racial crime is major. Sometime they will take a step further, interracial crime does happen, but the biggest criminals are black while their victims are white. The usual lesson to the black community is to take care of its rampant crime problem, and those who give that good talking-to are always white people and middle-class blacks who’ve likely never visited black neighborhoods.

But the lesson is deceitful and fallacious. Most of the people who feel it is their “duty” to tell blacks how to think and what to think believe that in some way we are a childlike people who need the guidance of “good” people who are usually and utterly clueless about what it means to be black in America.

The histories and current state of the black community in a nation that has yet to admit its own pathology is always omitted from the conversation. It’s a crooked way to avoid the reality of racism, personal and systematic, that is significant not only in the murder of Trayvon Martin, but all murders of black life no matter who the killers are.

Intra-racial crime in the black community is just as big an issue as interracial crime. It always has been on our radar for a few decades, and it has not gone out of range, not for even one second, since Trayvon’s murder or the murders of Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, Rekia Boyd, Aiyana Jones, Remarley Graham, Kenneth Chamberlain and anyone else. The common denominator is that black lives are being snuffed out, and this nation – as we’ve seen with George Zimmerman’s verdict – doesn’t give a damn about it.

Sure, one can argue that it’s not white people who are putting guns into the hands of trigger-happy, pistol packing individuals. No one is saying such a thing. However, those who sit by and do nothing but scold us are just as much at fault as the ones behind the violence whether it happens in black or white communities trying to act concern while scapegoating all of their precious nation’s problems onto the negro population.

Many of us scoff at such false compassion done to derail and demean. If you really want to help, why not first address the problem of violence in its entirety – from front to back, inside and out, and not just pin this as a “black” problem only black people need to fix? Why not recognize the problem within your own neck of the woods committed by “good” white folks, particularly the gun enthusiasts? Why not study and learn all the causes of violence and not just blame it on hip-hop and unwed single mothers as if it makes you sound profound and caring? More importantly, why not actively support and invest in programs that will help remedy violence?

ebony-,agazine-trayvon-martin-covers1The murder of Trayvon Martin further serves to have a serious reflection as to the state of race relations and the violence  – physical and institutional – that comes with it from those still trapped in pre-1960 America. And how this country treats or mistreats black life it is a testament to how far this society needs to go in order to truly call itself “post-racial”. It’s useless to argue that intra-racial crime in black communities deserves more outrage and attention, especially when it already has for years. It holds no weight due to the fact that no matter how the life of a black person is viciously taken, this country still sees it as expendable, no matter who takes it.