Racism 101 Asked And Answered: How Can Black People Support Their Community When There’s Black-On-Black Crime?
We created Racism 101 to help our audience facilitate their own thought-provoking talks around race, with a conversation "starter kit," and extensive anti-racism resource guides to inform and educate. To field these questions, we assembled a panel of Angelenos willing to answer so folks didn't have to ask their friends, or even strangers.
We've solicited questions from our audience — awkward, tough-to-ask, even silly questions — that they've perhaps wanted to ask people unlike themselves but have been too shy, embarrassed or afraid to ask.
We received a question about how BIPOC can support each other when they’re experiencing violence from other BIPOC in their communities.
Q: "What are ways BIPOC folx are showing solidarity and addressing lateral violence?”
What is lateral violence? It’s violence toward your peer group perpetuated by your peer group. In the case of BIPOC, it would be violence directed at other BIPOC. A simple example is Black-on-Black crime.
The Australian Human Rights Commission studied lateral violence as it relates to the country’s indigenous and Aboriginal peoples, who endured diseases, segregation and genocide resulting from European colonialism:
“Lateral violence is ‘trying to feel powerful in a powerless situation,’ and is a term often used to describe the types of violence perpetrated within subjugated groups.”
Groups that have been historically discriminated against are more likely to target their own community in efforts to feel powerful because they themselves feel like they’re powerless at the bottom of the social hierarchy.
It’s a vicious cycle. What can be done to support those affected by the violence, and fix the systems that help perpetuate the feelings of powerlessness which contributed to it in the first place?
How Our Racism 101 Panelists Responded
Q: "What are ways BIPOC folx are showing solidarity and addressing lateral violence?
Donna, a local artist who proudly identifies as Black and queer, describes how BIPOC can show up to support their community, specifically Black people, who are affected by violence stemming from racism, toward other Black people.
“Can BIPOC support others in their communities? Yes, by doing all we can. But the truth is: It requires a complete overhaul and restructuring of just about every tenet of American institutions to actually see long-lasting, generational changes.”
Read from Donna:
“This is a great question. I’ve never answered it outside of a relationship with the police. That being said, lateral violence is proportionate across all races. People kill each other. And, lateral violence or violence toward one another, is tragic.
“Can BIPOC support others in their communities? Yes, by doing all we can. We are creating anti-violence organizations. We are involved in mentorship programs. Artists produce songs with calls for peace, lamenting fallen friends, to call attention to the violence. Community organizers, mayors and pastors host community-wide rallies in cities plagued by violence, and there are countless after-school programs.
“Organizations like the NAACP and Urban League offer a variety of services for at-risk youth. We are trying to create opportunities for those at risk or disenfranchised to help them imagine a world outside of their neighborhood or city — and where they fit into it.
“We are (trying) to vote. We are advocating for more help for mothers without vital resources like child care.
“But the truth is: It requires a complete overhaul and restructuring of just about every tenet of American institutions to actually see long-lasting, generational changes. BIPOC, particularly Black and Brown people, contend with the racism — and violence — that stems from systemic failures, trauma, the effects of poverty on families and under-resourced communities.
“But, there is solidarity as communities band together to show up for each other because their lives matter. When we say Black Lives Matter, we are talking not just to white people but to our fellow Black community. Nothing in life makes them feel like they matter, and this is a rare opportunity to see how their life is — and will always be — of value, beauty and light.
“There is awareness, concern, action being taken and change being made. There are endless stories of people whose lives were turned around because of other BIPOC folks showing solidarity with their lives, ther pain and giving them hope. That’s really all we can do.”
Carene describes herself as a proud Black Armenian Angelena. She is adamant that as we aim to protect the BIPOC community, no one is left out.
“It’s a conversion we need to continue to have. If this movement isn’t intersectional, it’s not a good movement.”
She advocates for Black trans femmes who she says face the most violence.