An Open Letter to African-Americans

by Marvin Adams

Marvin Adams

Marvin Adams is a parishioner of St. Anthony’s Parish in Washington D.C. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the Franciscan Action Network.

Last year I penned a letter to White Americans. Succinctly, I was prompted to write this letter due to the rash of murders of unarmed people of color, primarily at the hands of those who are sworn to serve and to protect. Subsequently, we have continued to see an inordinate amount of murders, which seems to have morphed into epidemic proportions. While the country and, I might add, the world has been fixated on the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, et al, there has been an eerie silence with respect to the number of murders perpetrated by those in what has become known as black-on-black crime.

Let me preface this letter by stating emphatically that the African-American demographic is no more homogenous today than that of its white counterpart. We, like our white counterparts, come from every station in life. We are gay, straight, rich, poor, religious, atheist, conservative, liberal, rural, urban and everything else which can also be attributable to white Americans. That said, I fully expect to be vilified for having the temerity to put in print what is often verbalized in private settings. And that is, crimes committed by blacks upon blacks have reached genocidal proportions. Where’s the outcry? At some point, hopefully, sooner rather than later, we will allow ourselves to not only address this phenomenon, but to honestly engage this topic in an attempt to correct this abhorrent circumstance.

While the names of Garner, Brown, Rice, Scott and Susan Bland have served as a clarion call for action, in no small measure due to the Black Lives Matter Movement, the names of Relisha Rudd, Jamyla Bolden and more recently that of a 93 year Tuskegee Airman seems lost upon the public’s discourse. Rudd is the eight year old from Prince Georges County, Maryland who was taken from a homeless shelter in Washington, D.C. last year and has not been seen since. The prime suspect in her vanishing shot his wife and committed suicide before the authorities were able to question him concerning her whereabouts. Bolden was a nine year old from Ferguson who was shot and killed in a drive-by while doing her homework. And more recently, the 93 year old Tuskegee Airman was robbed and carjacked on the same day in St. Louis! It is also noteworthy that the 93 year old did not want to release his name for fear of retribution to himself and his family. All of these mentioned and the suspects were African-Americans. Where’s the outrage? Yes, we all believe that Black Lives Matter. But shouldn’t all black lives matter?

There are myriad reasons given as to why there has been an uptick in the proliferation of these types of crimes. But I will argue vehemently that none of them seems justified. On August 3, 2015, the Washington, D.C. Chief of Police, Cathy Lanier, hosted an “urgent summit” of police chiefs and administrators from around the country to address this and other related subjects. Washington, along with Milwaukee, St. Louis, Baltimore, Cleveland, New Orleans and other cities has seen an escalation in murders during the course of this calendar year. Sadly, too many of these crimes have been black-on-black.

The Black Lives Matter Movement grew out of the murder of Brown, an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri at the hands of a white police officer. Since then, that movement has helped to bring to light the subject of the manner in which police departments treat citizens of color. It has been a driving force with respect to drawing attention to the manner in how police departments and their personnel view the lives of people of color generally, and of African-Americans in particular.

It is a given there is and has been a history in this country of white systemic brutality meted out against members of the African-American community. History is replete with atrocity after atrocity to support this premise. But I maintain there is no reason to continue to tolerate those among us who have no respect for themselves or their fellow citizens. It is time to stop giving refuge and safe harbor to these individuals for whatever reason(s). For us to continue to pontificate that black lives matter without incorporating the fact that all black lives matter makes us disingenuous at best and hypocritical at worst.

On October 10, 2015, Minister Louis Farrakhan, of the Nation of Islam, has called for another Million Man March on Washington to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the original March. The theme for this March is aptly named, “Justice or Else.” It is my hope that on this day, African-Americans will use this day for its intended purpose. I respectfully ask that everyone of color to put aside all petty beefs and arguments for one day. My wish is that on this day there will be no black-on-black crime reported. Now, I realize some will dismiss my call out of hand. But I ask, if not on that day, when? Can we do it? Yes, we can. Will it be done? That, I maintain is the million dollar question. The answer lies in the hands of African-Americans and African-Americans only. So I beseech the Nation of Islam, NAACP, Urban League, Black Journalists, Urban Radio, ministers and anyone else who has a platform to disseminate my plea and make 10/10/2015 a day which we have not experienced in a while – one with no killings! Absent that, it is business as usual.

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Published in: on August 26, 2015 at 5:52 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I have a real problem forwarding a post that has a Swastika in the letterhead as the e-mail I received from Acting Franciscan comment-reply@wordpress.com. Sorry, I could not cut & paste the image for you to see.

    Jim Myres, OFS

  2. […] a matter of disclosure, I raised this issue in print last year. Similar to both Lewis and Clinton, I am continually flabbergasted by the fact that no […]

  3. […] a year ago, I penned an open letter to African-Americans. Within the context, I respectfully suggested to the leaders of the Movement to add a small, but […]


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