Black Lives Matter. But Not Every Black Life Matters As Much.

Just another day. Just another dead kid

Elsewhere in America, another kid gets shot in Chicago.

The story of Antonio Smith is a short one. After all, he was only nine years old. He wasn’t a celebrity. He accomplished no great deeds. He made no enduring mark on the world.

Then again, most nine-year old kids don’t. They’re real busy just being kids.

Until someone takes their life. Then they’re a statistic.

Antonio lived a short life. He died a quick and violent death.

CHICAGO (WLS)Antonio Smith, 9, was fatally shot in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood, his family told Eyewitness News Wednesday night.

The victim’s relatives made a plea to the shooter, who remains at large on Wednesday night.

“He was just a child, just a baby, still had a whole life ahead of him. And like, why? Just a child,” said Kenya Eggleston, victim’s cousin.

Smith was shot multiple times in the chest around 4 p.m. Wednesday in the 1200-block of East 71st Street.

“At first I didn’t know if they were really shots or not. I just heard pop, pop, pop, pop, pow. So I just kept doing what I was doing,” said Dave West, neighbor.

“It hurts my heart, really, to see the young kids just, just killing each other. And school is getting ready to start,” said Robert Blake, neighbor.

School’s out for Antonio Smith. Forever.

There are no protests. Al and Jesse aren’t in the streets. Reporters aren’t tripping all over each other to stick yet another hot mic under another agitated person’s mouth hoping they’ll say something raw and juicy.

When he was running for his life whose name did Antonio call? His mother? God? Did he scream for help or plead for mercy? Too many kids like Antonio have survived birth only to be killed by a hard life where there’s no mercy, no forgiveness, and no pity. Too many of us are just like Mr. West. We hear “pop, pop, pop, pop, pow” and since it’s not us we go back to what we were doing.

We March. But Not For Antonio.

After all, what’s the big deal? Antonio was a nobody. He wasn’t popped by a White cop (unlikely). He got done in by somebody who probably looked a lot like him (more likely).

I know you’re sick of hearing about it. I’m sick of writing about it. Jesus. Another Black kid got shot? How many does that make this week? And it’s only Thursday. Scratch that vacation to Chicago, honey. When does ski season start in Vail? You know those people hate the snow and cold. That’s why you never see them win anything at the Winter Olympics.

It’s just another dead Black kid. Life ended. Promise snuffed out. The mean streets claim another one. You know the routine. Roll out the yellow tape. Mark where the body fell. Shuffle the paper. Record the name. Bury ’em, forget ’em and keep it moving. Tomorrow is another day and tomorrow is Friday which in Chicago means the start of the weekend and a fresh supply of dead and wounded mostly Black bodies ready to be stacked, packed, body-bagged and toe-tagged.

Oh well. No big loss. It’s not as if any of them were going to grow up to come up with the cure for cancer or run a Fortune 500 company. Fuck it. Antonio Smith might have grown up from being another kid with a crooked, cocky smile into yet another big scary Super Predator like Mike Brown going around stealing stogies, shoving store clerks and being a Menace II Society before he gets put down like the mongrel he was.

We’ve become desensitized to dead kids. A cop killing a brother isn’t rare, but brothers killing brothers over nothing is common.  We as a people we’ve become remarkably adept at coming up with ways to divert our attention from the slaughter in our streets.

America doesn’t notice anymore. It can barely tear itself away from its petty partisan politics, worthless entertainments and minor amusement to pay attention to just another dead kid face down in the street or staring sightlessly up at the sky.

Plenty more where Antonio came from. Plenty gone and plenty still to go.

The slaying of Michael Brown by Darren Wilson comes at a perfect time for the news media. Congress is on vacation. The President is on vacation. We’re all sick of hearing about Israel, Ebola, Isis, the Ukraine and Boko Haram. There’s nothing good on TV. Even the NFL isn’t playing any meaningful games yet. It’s a harmonic converge. There’s nothing else going on.

Wonder why it is we as Black people care so much when a killer cop guns us down and care so little when a killer who looks like us does the same thing. Does Black life only matter when its taken by a White man?

I’d prefer it wasn’t so, but I think I’d be lying to myself.

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7 thoughts on “Black Lives Matter. But Not Every Black Life Matters As Much.

  1. “Wonder why it is we as Black people care so much when a killer cop guns us down and care so little when a killer who looks like us does the same thing.”

    I can’t speak for everyone, but every killing is heart-rending.

    A black on black killing is an insult. A white on black killing, be it a cop or not, is an insult on an insult, a double insult, because directly or indirectly the white on black killer helped create the conditions that led to the black on black killing.

  2. This makes me weep, as it should all of us. Have we grown so heartless we cannot or do not care when a child loses their life? Somehow, sometime soon we must start giving a damn again and we must stop turning our backs.

  3. I love the article Jeff, and I agree 100%, attention should have been brought to this sweet little boy’s death. I don’t get it at all. Why don’t any so-called leaders of the Black community, such as Al and Jesse stand up and talk about what’s going on on the streets of Chicago. Some of these kids don’t stand a chance, and it’s awful. I can’t imagine what it’s like for them trying to grow up as normal kids, going to the playground, or school w/o being afraid of being gunned down. What a sweet looking kid, too. As you said, a kid w/ promise. There’s a place I go to meetings, where gunshots are the norm. I offer people rides, but they won’t let me b/c some areas are less safe than others. Things need to change. In that town, Bridgeport, they just prosecuted 3 white cops for beating a black man after he’d given up. All 3 will do jail time only b/c someone had the sense to video it, unknown to them, of course. I do hope I see change in my lifetime, more than there has been. Kids need to know they can grow up in a safe environment to become whomever they want to w/o fearing for their lives.

  4. It’s ironic how so many black people refuse to wake up and realize this is 21st century genocide right in our faces. A vast % are to caught in other media hype and are mentally isolated with these phones and other electronic gadgets.
    In a country ran by black’s and afrikans. All these gadgets would be allowed.
    Nobody would be allowed to wear any gadget that separates you from real human contact.
    Our people refuse to see how electronic brainwashing works and who is really behind it.

  5. Is this an argument that exhorts us to “look at ourselves” when a black person is killed? I’ve actually grown a little weary of this argument (if this is that argument.) Churches and communities have spoken out against violence in our communities. Perhaps a big-name pundit or politician isn’t always visible in the conversation, but that doesn’t mean that the conversations don’t happen.

    If it’s not that problematic / one-sided argument, then I think it’s terrible that we don’t value each other like we should–but I want to avoid a Moniyhan-y argument that’s mired in a condescending pathology. Yuck. Don’t want that.

    I think several things have to change to address the fact that we don’t value one another like we should. How about, for starters, we consider the impact that racial iconography (Marlon Riggs’s Ethnic Notions is a great documentary on that) has on the way that we see and value one another? Or the school-to-prison pipeline (b/c of poor educational resources and the hyper-criminalization of black youth)? Or concentrated poverty and segregation? I just feel like it’s really easily to fall into some argument that something is “inherently” wrong with us. And then that leads to that whole biological racism / Bell Curve stuff. Don’t want that, either.

    I’m not saying that you’re necessarily echoing any of these sentiments, but that’s kind of the vibe I got.

    Related Link:
    http://mediamatters.org/research/2014/08/18/right-wing-media-push-black-on-black-crime-cana/200467

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