I firmly believe that black lives matter, but I’m beginning to wonder if America shares that conviction.
If black lives mattered, would the Washington Post have found that in America’s largest cities, nearly three- quarters of the unsolved murders over a decade involved black victims. Would they have found that in Philadelphia, where we’ve had numerous black mayors and police commissioners, there were no arrests in 43 percent of murders where the victims were black?
The police often complain that witnesses in black communities won’t come forward. But I have lived my life in such communities. They are places where our connections to one another are numerous and binding.
In black communities, killers know witnesses and their children. Witnesses know killers and their parents. In such places, where a one-year wait between a preliminary hearing and a murder trial is not uncommon, entire families are at risk when witnesses come forward. If black lives truly mattered, and justice was the goal, wouldn’t there be a more forceful effort to provide witnesses with protection?
We are all responsible for standing up for the sanctity of black lives. Because while so many of us are doing great work to sustain black lives, all of us have to do more.
If black lives matter, we have to protect those lives from the womb to the tomb. That means parents must love their children. It means adults must care for seniors. It means fathers must marry mothers; if we do not, we not only leave women to raise our children alone. We also leave our children more likely to grow up in poverty.
If black lives truly matter, we have to value those lives from the classroom to the courtroom. That means making time to meet our children’s teachers. It means encouraging our children to excel. It means more black millionaires should mimic LeBron James and open up schools of their own.
If black lives truly matter, we have to stop complaining about black folks being railroaded and show up consistently for jury duty. If black lives truly matter, more of our lawyers have to chase justice instead of dollars. If black lives truly matter, more of our politicians have to chase reform instead of re-election.
If black lives truly matter, we must make every effort to protect black lives at a time when black lives are in danger.
When we live under a president who called neo-Nazis very fine people, black lives are in danger. When Pennsylvania has more racial hate groups than Alabama, black lives are in danger. But even with everything that’s going on around us, the biggest danger of all is not in Washington or Harrisburg. It’s right here in Philadelphia.
Because when black folks run the police department and almost half of black murders go unsolved, black lives don’t matter as they should. When black folks run City Council, and one in three black Philadelphians live in poverty, black lives don’t matter as they should. When black kids fill our schools, and we never have enough money to sustain them, black lives don’t matter as they should.
If black lives truly matter, black folks have to prove it. Not with hashtags or viral videos. Not with complaints about everyone else. No. If black lives truly matter, black folks have to do something. And we must do it before there are no more black lives to worry about.
You can hear Solomon Jones on Praise 107.9 FM weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon.