Yes, black lives matter. For over 160 years, Americans of all ethnicities and creeds have fought for civil rights, culminating in the 1965 Civil Rights Act, the affirmative action movement of the 1970s, the promotion of black individuals into positions of civil power in police departments, universities, and other institutions. Ultimately we had the election and reelection of America’s first non-white President (and we may witness the election of America’s first female next year!).
The U.S. Army was actually one of the first large scale institutions in this country to mandate racial integration, back in the early 1950s when it was apparent that segregation was neither rational nor moral, especially in light of the bravery with which black infantrymen fought for their country during World War Two and other conflicts. Indeed, the U.S. Army for decades was the single most effective institution for providing generations of African-American men with basic literacy and professional skills and a path out of the dead-end poverty of the black ghetto. While we have a ways to go, these achievements should not be overlooked.
Nor should we ignore the appalling levels of violence plaguing black society across the country. The big cities, most of them politically liberal and boasting very strict firearms laws, are beset with violence in the black communities. Over half of all gun-related homicides in the U.S. are black-on-black, about 6,000 killings a year that are curiously ignored by the mainstream press even though the numbers are starkly laid out by the FBI’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (bjs.gov). (Hispanic shootings are in second place.)
Were it not for this tragic level of violence in the black ghettos, our gun homicides per capita would be about the same as those of Canada and Western Europe, and we would not be having a national debate about gun control; actually it would be all about mental illness which is the cause of most of the mass shootings that happen outside the ghettos.
The carnage in the black ghettos cannot be understated. The media and a tunnel visioned justice system do the black community no service when they ignore or sweep under the carpet this staggering breakdown in respect for law and order. Aside from 30–40 white-police-on-black-suspect shootings per year, there is very little white-on-black violence. For historical reasons, it’s symbolically significant when a white cop shoots an unarmed black suspect, but these are exceptions and not the norm; the day-to-day reality is that cops are very careful 98% of the time, and perhaps in fact this is one of the contributing factors to the lawlessness in “certain neighborhoods”.
I believe these problems are solvable, albeit not with spectacular media circuses like that of Ferguson, MO and Trayvon Martin. First, we need to address the economic backwardness of black America: set up more “special economic zones” in the ghettos, e.g. with low or no taxes for ten years and a relaxed zoning, environmental, and aesthetic regulatory climate to spur a boom in small businesses, plants and factories in these areas — much as China did in Shenzhen, Tianjin, and other areas. This would offer local youth an alternative pathway to the dead-end life of drug dealing and other criminal activity. It would offer them hope.
Second, raise educational standards, improve security at the schools and exercise zero tolerance toward violence and insolence in the K-12 public system, across the board. Those who won’t play, get reassigned to high-discipline quasi-military institutions with uniforms, daily duties like mopping the floors and cleaning toilets, daily exercise, and no drugs. Those who won’t play by those rules get sent to juvenile prison for extended periods of time. Simply put, the current system is broken and we need a way to sift the bad kids from the good ones until eventually the gangster domination of the schools and the streets is defeated and the majority of kids are once again enabled to pursue studies and become successful.
Economic achievement has always been the best way out of the poverty and discrimination which every new group has suffered when first arrived in the U.S. As the only “non-immigrants” apart from the native Americans, the African-Americans have unique issues, obviously, but there are enough success stories to prove that this approach will work with this group just as well as it has with the Italians, the Irish, the Jews, etc.