- - Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Last week, reporter Alison Parker and photojournalist Adam Ward — both white — were murdered in cold blood on television by Vester Lee Flanagan, a black man.

Ms. Parker and Mr. Ward’s death should remind everyone of what Democratic presidential candidate, Gov. Martin O’Malley said in June before he was inappropriately booed off stage by protesters, “Black lives matter, white lives matter, all lives matter.”

Yes, all lives matter.

I am confident that many of my fellow African-Americans agree with Gov. O’Malley. But the fact that some continue to blame white racism for violence in the black community only hurts the ability of black Americans to move forward.

Unfortunately, owing to a lack of personal responsibility, many black Americans are reluctant to admit that the black community — that includes ordinary citizens, congregation and municipal leaders, and President Obama — can do more to reduce violence.



In a recent interview with National Public Radio about the one-year anniversary of Ferguson, host Steve Inskeep asked Mr. Obama whether concerns about reelection in 2012 discouraged him from ‘properly’ addressing race related issues during his first-term.

Mr. Obama replied, “I don’t buy that. I think it’s fair to say that if, in my first term, Ferguson had flared up, as president of the United States, I would have been commenting on what was happening in Ferguson. It may be that my passions show a little bit more. Just because I’ve been around this track now for a while.”

That is a canny answer, but not a believable one.

Any first-term president would have to had commented on Ferguson. The question now is how, in the age of Obama, have black Americans handled Ferguson and the use of force by police against black males?

When it comes to race, Mr. Obama is almost always “behind the eight ball.”

Some African-Americans complain the president does not show enough moral indignation when unarmed black males are killed by white police officers. In their minds, Mr. Obama has turned his back on black America and opted for tepid political correctness and white approval.

For evidence of such opinions, look no further than socialist civil rights activist, Cornel West who went so far as to call Mr. Obama the first “niggerized black president” implying that, as one blog summarized, the president “is scared to confront Wall Street and systemic white supremacy.”

Although some of Mr. West’s criticisms warrant attention, his focus on blaming white racism is, at times, misguided and indicative of how some black Americans feel. Some mistakenly believe that white racism is the reason for their hardship and misfortune.

In reality, the riots in Ferguson and Baltimore evidence the unrestrained rage among black Americans, and the crippling tendency of some to rouse into a chaotic frenzy. That type of reaction isn’t organized, effective, or merely civilly disobedient. It is anarchy: boisterous hordes of poor black people acting violently, irately, and out of control.

As my hero, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. explained, “a riot is the language of the unheard.” But King also intelligently explained the path to equality in America was not through violence.

“Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights — of meeting physical force with soul force,” King said.

After all, if white people who hold the opinion put forth in this article acted collectively, it would be considered racist.

As a young African-American male who has lived in a low-income neighborhood in Washington, D.C., I’ve observed, in my own community, that black on black crime is more prevalent than police brutality.

But blacks don’t get nearly as upset when other blacks commit violent crimes. They typically get more upset when a white person is perceived to be at fault. Contemplating these realities makes some black Americans, like those who shut down Bernie Sanders’ rally, feel vulnerable, as though their grievances have been ignored and invalidated.

For all of the anger and occasional anti-whiteness that goes along with exhibitions of black solidarity, what success has come from ‘black lives matter’ protests?

What if, in the age of Obama, African-Americans had spent more time thinking about what black communities can do about black on black crime before reacting to the death of Freddie Gray?

The fact is, more black men are killed by other black men than by white police officers.

It is naive at best, to believe that racism is getting worse since King fought the good fight for equality. If anything, affirmative action, the elimination of the Confederate flag from public view and the election of President Obama proves that the opposite is true.

Some might like to believe Mr. Obama’s presidency has helped African-Americans deal with violence in the black community. But blindly blaming white racism for virtually every undesirable racial reality hinders America’s ability to move toward a racially just society.

• Zachary Wood is a sophomore at Williams College majoring in political science.

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