The proposed “marches on gun shops” to bring attention to Chicago’s spike in violence could lead to an unlikely destination and thus an unnecessary conundrum for Black leaders.
Recently, there have been a lot of tweets and scuttlebutt out there concerning a proposed organized effort (led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr.) to protest gun shops around the nation in protest to the recent violence seen in cities such as Chicago.
I commend Rev. Jackson for his years of service to America and the Black community. Those that have heard me on the air know that I don’t do the ugly names that get hurled at him and notable others. I also don’t attach over-generalizing motives to all of his actions.
Just the same, I believe in the validity of the Second Amendment – although as a Pittsburgh native and a Chicago resident, I understand the debate over appropriate urban gun oversight. That said, I hope the Reverend doesn’t get into a faux war with small business owners that happen to be gun shop owners.
It would be akin to taking on all of the liquor stores in our communities in the hope that we can stem the tide of substance abuse and unhealthiness in Black America.
How successful has that effort been? Of course, couple those efforts to close community liquor stores with us watching the most successful grocery chains in our communities sell alcohol to us 40- ounces at a time from aisles sitting right beside the frozen juices, distilled water and frozen vegetables.
We don’t say much about that contradiction.
A symbolic boycott of the gun shops will likely be as effective as the Congressional Black Caucus grilling Attorney General Eric Holder over the recent spike in shootings in Chicago, including the beloved South Side communities. Reaching for low-hanging fruit solutions to address the youth violence decimating our communities (such as probing the Department of Justice for possible – and unnecessary – big government involvement or taking on small business owners over decades-long challenges) does nothing for the high-wind drama that we collectively continue to catch.
Black leaders apply double standards and inconsistent methodologies to our issues – namely, protesting those that are outside of our circles of friends and influence while condoning the dysfunction ongoing within our comfort zones of confidants. As long as they do that, we will continue to capture attention in the media, yet continue failing to capture any long-lasting solutions.
If easy gun accessibility is an issue that we must immediately address through marches and protests of small business owners, are we willing to take on one of the most successful gun retailers in the nation? Wal-Mart proudly sells firearms in roughly half of their 3,600 stores nationally, so it would interesting to see if Black leaders challenge a business that has given back to Black communities through initiatives such as the Thurgood Marshal College Fund.
The same could be said for other huge corporations that fund Black initiatives and support Black leaders, leading to silence from our communities when confronting small and large conflicts of mission, action, and integrity with these organizations.
Of course, the fight for the moral right should have no price tag – or does it?
The timetable for Black America’s resurgence from youth violence, substance abuse issues, education failure, and mass incarceration does not have the social or political bandwidth to tolerate inconsistencies in approach or accountability. Further, it does not have the wiggle room to continue the selective blame games for bigger problems (such as blaming “fractured gangs” for a spike in violence as if established gangs do not bring their own brand of terror to our neighborhoods) or continue selectivity on partnership to resolve the issues.
I do understand the cost of taking on such a position, both personally and professionally. Yet, it is ever clear that the value of fighting to uphold the moral right and reverse civic decay should always hold more worth than the cost of losing temporary battles or healing the scars incurred in the process.
If we are going to take a stand on issues, the value of our principle must always exceed the cost of our corporate partnerships. Understanding the moral and civic right to resurrect our troubled neighborhoods should enable us to effectively and collaboratively negotiate approaches that solve our challenges and satisfy our corporate partnerships with a consistent standard for our children. Anything less equates to taking on issues for the taste of activism without seeing the fulfillment of substance in our actions.
Picking on the little guy over our community’s challenges when there are bigger fish to fry is doing nothing more than continuing a big lie in our communities. Namely, it has now become more fashionable and comfortable to be busy when it comes to addressing our communities’ issues than it is for us to be historic in actually resolving them. We must discard some double standards in our communities and elevate a new standard moving forward.
LENNY MCALLISTER is a senior contributor to Politic365 featured on CNN Newsroom, CNN’s “Early Start”, and “CNN Saturday Morning”. Lenny was featured on “Washington Watch with Roland Martin” this past week and on “The Young Turks with Cenk Uygur” Tuesday at 7pm Eastern. Catch Lenny’s recent speeches via the new LennyMcAllister.com website.