On August 27, 2020, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, both candidates at the time, responded to the shooting of Jacob Blake by talking about the constant fear black Americans live with due to systemic racism. Details of the case, specifically the fact that Blake was armed with a knife, were still developing at the time.
The news of Blake stood in stark contrast to the public response to a mass shooting that had occurred just two weeks prior in Biden and Harris’s backyard. More than 20 black people, including an off-duty police officer, were shot at a party in Washington, D.C. on August 9, 2020.
There were no statements by Biden or Harris. Outside of an article on CNN there was almost no national attention paid to the shooting at all. The Washington Nationals baseball team canceled a game in support of Blake but didn’t even send a single tweet about a brazen act of violence that happened minutes from its stadium.
These incidents reflect one of the most important rules of modern politics: black lives matter much more to the left when threatened by white perpetrators than by black ones.
Concern Is Not Colorblind
Consider the case of Jazmine Barnes, a 7-year-old black girl who was fatally shot in Walmart parking lot in Houston. Police initially believed the suspect was a white man in his 40s. Those original reports led Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, attorney Lee Merritt, and a number of celebrities and civil rights activists, like Shaun King, to declare the tragedy a hate crime.
A few days later the police caught two black suspects and charged them with capital murder. No celebrities corrected their initial statements and the man they accused of the crime took his own life seven months later.
Jazmine Barnes is no anomaly. Between January and September of last year, more than 400 children, mostly black and Hispanic, were killed in street violence. There is a lot of talk about racial disparities in the prison system, but the reality is that those disparities, which are caused by violent crimes, not drug crimes, are driven by fact that 13 percent of the population accounts for half of the homicides in the United States.
I’m sympathetic to communities and politicians who don’t want to increase the number of black men in prison or provide fodder for racists who think black people are inherently violent. There are no virtues or vices inherent to any skin color or ethnic group. Anyone who thinks otherwise hasn’t seen the data on who commits most child sex crimes.
At the same time, the safety of law-abiding black Americans across the country is more important than trying to change the minds of ignorant people who don’t suffer the consequences of violent crime in their neighborhoods.
Many Parts to the Problem
It is impossible to address this phenomenon without being honest about the self-serving political, economic, and cultural interests that perpetuate it. Democratic politicians are reluctant to do anything that can be perceived as critical of their black constituents. They also see the terrible price people like Hillary Clinton and Biden paid politically for supporting tough-on-crime legislation like the 1994 crime bill and have decided it is easier to focus on access to guns and systemic racism.
The party’s support structure plays a large role in selecting which black lives matter as well. Each viral incident creates a seamless coordination between corporate and social media outlets that replay videos on an endless loop, politicians who make speeches condemning systemic racism, corporations that issue statements about the importance of diversity, intellectuals who finally get to cash in on their pseudoscientific racial theories, and education administrators who turn the latest social justice cause into curricula and school resources.
That type of efficient operation illustrates a mature industry in which black suffering is the raw material, fear and division are the main products, and more power for the key stakeholders is the bottom line. That sounds harsh, but how else do you explain the speed with which we went from discussing qualified immunity and chokeholds after George Floyd’s death to demands for more diversity on corporate boards, books on white fragility, pancake syrup logos, NBA jerseys with “Love Us” printed on the back, and media mega-deals for Black Lives Matter co-founders?
Solutions Start With Honesty
Street violence can’t be fixed overnight, but progress can be made over time through a renewed focus on families, faith institutions, and a culture that promotes the sanctity of life. As a Christian father, my goal is to help my children understand that their inherent worth and dignity comes from being created by God, not what they look like or what other people think of them.
Young men who fire guns recklessly into crowds neither see the value in their lives nor the lives of others. Liberal politicians have acted as if more programs are a replacement for strong families, but the government is an unfaithful husband and a chronically absent father. Its resources are stretched too thin and its attention is too transactional to replace what families lose when dads are absent.
Getting the left to value black lives regardless of what is threatening them will also take time. Initiatives like Voices of Black Mothers United are needed to bring attention to the impact of violent crime on families and communities across the country.
We need brave community leaders and everyday citizens to ask their elected officials, whether mayors or congressional members representing large cities, why white supremacy is treated as a national issue while crimes against their actual constituents are rarely addressed from their bully pulpit.
Democrats took their performative activism to a new level in 2020, whether by kneeling in Kente cloth in the Capitol or through public art projects to troll the former president. By contrast, President Trump’s Operation Legend initiative seized more than 2,600 guns and made more than 6,000 arrests, including 467 for homicide, across nine cities between July and December 2020. Considering the fact that only about 60 percent of homicide cases are closed nationally, a rate even lower when black victims are involved, Operation Legend was a government response that actually saved lives.
It is easier for the left to evoke the injustice of Emmett Till’s murder after a white woman harasses a black bird-watcher in Central Park than it is after two separate mass shootings in Chicago, whether outside of a funeral in 2020 or a party in 2021. The predictable cadre of black pundits, academics, and media personalities who pen op-eds and make cable news appearances for the former are conspicuously silent after the latter.
The reason is quite clear. They have decided that race-hatred is worse than self-hatred. It’s time to speak honestly about that. Just because these people have decided to live with it doesn’t mean the rest of us have to lie about it as well.