Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Black Athletes Victims in Their Own Communities: When Will It Stop?

ESPN.com headline: Doctors: Collier paralyzed below waist, one leg had to be amputated

Jacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Richard Collier joins the late Sean Taylor and Darrent Williams as the latest pro-athlete victim of black-on-black violence. Last year, when I wrote about Taylor’s tragic death, I received quite a bit of mail from readers who claimed that I was racist to suggest that Taylor’s demise had something to do with a certain violent mindset in the black community. I certainly didn’t mean those comments as racist; to me it was simply a matter of surveying the evidence and drawing a possible conclusion.

Collier, shot in Jacksonville—get this—14 times on Sept. 2, while waiting in his car for ladies to arrive for a double date, now faces a life of paralysis, minus one leg, his promising and potentially very lucrative career as an NFL player ended. Doctors reported that five bullets alone were removed from the 26-year-old’s urinary bladder, plus he battled pneumonia and renal failure in recovery before the decision to amputate finally had to be made.

This is just heinous stuff, and a lot of citizen response has taken the form of outcry against the culture of guns in America. Maybe. But yet again, this is a crime that happened to a black man, more than likely perpetrated by a black man, and yet again I’m astonished at the lack of outrage coming from black national leaders about black-on-black violence.

Barack? Jesse? Charlie (Rangel)? Al (Sharpton)? Anybody gonna come out and say that the incidence of crimes perpetrated against high-profile black athletes by other blacks has got to stop? How about taking back one’s own community from such thuggish, destructive behavior? Does it bother anyone that black athletes have become marked men in their own neighborhoods?

If these anti-athlete crimes were spread across the racial or ethnic spectrum, then maybe the anti-gun advocates could make their points with singular certitude. That, alas, is not the case. Blacks are targeting blacks. The culture of guns in America might be problematic, but the culture of guns in the African American community is absolutely deadly. And apparently it isn’t stopping.

I don’t think it’s racist to recognize a trend and form an opinion about it. I won’t pretend to know all the deep-rooted reasons why there seem to be too-frequent incidents of gun violence in the black community. What I want to know is, When are the black leaders going to publically address that community and tell them that enough is enough?

Frankly, I don’t have a clue as to how you stop dangerous people from acting out on innocent people. But when a successful black athlete is in more danger in his own community than he might be in a predominantly white community, then something’s truly cock-eyed. Indeed, the tables have turned on racism in this country. I’m for Richard Collier and Darrent Williams, but apparently there are black dudes somewhere who are not.

The Colliers, Taylors and Williamses of the NFL should be looked up to as high achievers by American blacks. Instead, they’ve all three been gunned down.

Why can’t it stop? That’s the question I want Barack Obama to ask from a podium somewhere on the campaign trail. Somehow, I don’t think it’s gonna happen.

In the meantime, let’s all say a prayer for Collier. He’s going to need a lot of good will and hope as he tries to rebuild his life.

And let’s hope this is the last time we write about such an event for a very long time.

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