Politics & Race
What To Say When Someone Brings Up Black On Black Crime

By Michael Harriot

There is a universal go-to move shared by alt-right racists, apologetic negroes and argumentative ignoramuses when discussing Black Lives Matter or racism in general. Whenever they are backed into a corner by facts and logic, they will throw a simpleton grenade into a perfectly reasonable debate by vomiting forth the tired line:

“Well what about Black-on-Black crime?”

Or…”Why do you march in Ferguson and Baton Rouge and not Chicago?”

Or why aren’t you people as loud about Black deaths at the hand of Black people?

I know. I know…

But instead of letting an ignorant, incendiary question make you explode like the white Conservatives who heard  you say Ronald Reagan was a racist dimwit equivalent of a male Bimbo or White liberals do when they hear that you put your wine in the refrigerator just stuff that “Motherfucker, let me tell you something…” back in your pocket, and present them with something logical and concise. NegusWhoRead is nothing, if not a uniter. In an effort to foster greater understanding and bridge the gap between wanting to shit in someone’s shoe and initiating a nuanced, productive conversation, we present this flexible script for whenever you are plagued with the question.

I want to say this calmly and clearly as possible without letting this question anger me, so when you see my fists tightly clenched or notice the vein in my forehead pulsating, it is not because I’m mad. It is not because I am infuriated by your question. This is simply how I control my emotions because I know, as an African American colored negro, that you will stop listening if I raise my voice. I am not going to be the angry negro right now, because I want to make sure you’re listening.

First, I’d like to know how you managed to infiltrate the underground Black secret society that throws the parties and sponsors the celebrations whenever Black people kill black people in gang wars and drug deals. I’ve never even heard of the or organization, but I knew it must exist, because every time there is a substantive debate about racism, y’all bring up the fact that Black people don’t care about our sons and daughters being killed, as if we are somewhere at “da club” dropping it low to Juvenile songs instead of trying to stop violence in our neighborhoods. So, congratulations.

I see right now that I’m going to have to be honest with you, because you see right through Black people’s bullshit. You saw right through our ruse to create a “Stop The Violence” movement dedicated to curbing violence in Black communities 30 years before anyone uttered the phrase “Black Lives Matter.” You looked right past the million protests and marches  that happen every weekend against gangs, guns and drug culture. You saw the Black preachers, teachers, parents and groups fighting against all of this, but instead of saying “maybe they want to live in safe communities, too…” you could tell we were bullshitting, because you’re a fucking genius. I can see it in your eyes.

Instead, let’s look at the facts. Black people do kill Black people too much. I believe that. Most Black people believe that. It is a problem in Black communities. For a human being to kill another human being is a terrible thing. If 99% of all Black on Black crime stopped tomorrow,  it wouldn’t be enough.

BUT (and there is a very big “but,” here…

According to the FBI, in 2013 (the latest year for which facts are available) white people committed 83% of murders against white people. If you are white, if you are afraid that someone is going to rape, assault or kill you, it will probably be a White person. That’s because most violent crime victims know their assailants. White people kill White people. Black people kill Black people. But do you remember all those special reports, marches and articles about the scourge of “White-on-white crime?”


To America and the media, Black-on-Black crime is the scourge of the inner cities. It tears down neighborhoods. It is why the Black community can’t climb the steep walls of poverty and overcome. The entire term “Black-on-Black crime” is a dog whistle for white fear. It is a legendary dragon that the invaders tell us we need to fight while they are raping and pillaging our villages. “Black On Black crime” is a myth.

You know what they call “White-on-White crime?”


What if, after every tragedy, someone said the same thing to you? What if Omar Mateen’s family, after the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, responded “well don’t ask me about my son until you address White on White Crime like Sandy Hook killings. Or the Aurora Colorado shooting. Or the Gabby Giffords shooting. Or the Columbine killings. Or… ”

Now that I think about it, maybe y’all should do something about White-on-White crime.

Because you are my friend, I want to tell you why this argument makes me so mad:


Black Lives Matter began as a movement to address the mistreatment of Black bodies by the State. When you try to insert an entirely different argument into the discussion, it means you’re either:

a. Admitting that you’re too stupid to know what we’re talking about so you want to change subjects
b. Intentionally trying to deflect the conversation because you know you  don’t have a point
c. Trying to pull a sleight of hand and conflate two different subjects, because you’re evil

Would you bust (yes, I said “bust.”  Black people don’t say “burst.”) into an American Cancer Society  fundraiser and start screaming about AIDS? Why not? You know why, and so do I:

Because it wasn’t relevant to the conversation. Because it is a distraction. Because it would sound stupid.

No, man, I don’t think you’re stupid. I wanted to have this conversation because I respect you and I want you to get a full perspective of how infuriating that question is. It’s as if you went to the funeral of someone who died in a car crash to remind every member of the family that Cousin Jamie smoked Newports and drank Pepsi all day, so they shouldn’t be upset. She probably would’ve died anyway.

If I thought you were stupid I wouldn’t argue with you about police lynchings because I know what it means when people crowbar the Black on Black crime argument into the discussion of police brutality.

It means “You niggers are animals, anyway. So quit complaining!”

It means that after a generations of segregation, Jim Crow, redlining and the kind of corporate cuckolding that lock poor people in a zoo inside neighborhoods that you can call “urban” and “underprivileged” so you can control with an iron fist…

It means “stay in your place, Niggers

…and die.”

They always make sure we die.


About the author

Michael Harriot is a renowned spoken word poet, the host of The Black One podcast and the editor-in-chief of NegusWhoRead. He is perpetually just getting warmed up because he has no chill. He is on Instagram and twitter as @michaelharriot

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