After the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin sparked protests in streets across the country, some began wondering aloud about why the same sort of outrage isn’t directed toward black-on-black violence. Many argued that while Martin’s death was tragic, it wasn’t any more special or heart wrenching than the deaths of many teens across this country. As millions signed the petition and rocked hoodies in solidary with Martin’s family, a vocal minority of black folks began questioning the growing “hoodie” movement.

This counter-argument is just another in a long line of “black people don’t….” logic that springs forth almost anytime someone is legitimately upset about an issue. Don’t believe me? Peep a comments section of many of these articles calling on accountability.

I’m sure you’ve heard it before.

Black people…

  • Don’t complain or protest black-on-black violence
  • Don’t get upset or protest how we’re portrayed on TV
  • Always complain, but do nothing
  • Are the only people still hung up on color
  • Don’t believe in community
  • Are unhealthier than all others and don’t care
  • Don’t like each other, let alone marry each other (especially black men)
  • Don’t go to school, get married, are successful
  • Aren’t open-minded

I could go on.

Despite all of talk about how lazy, complacent, and complicit black people are in our own negative situations, the reality is that it just isn’t true.

After political commentator Juan Williams wondered why black people don’t protest black-on-black crime, Te-Nehisi Coates of the Atlantic pointed out that we have.

From coast to coast many have taken to their neighborhood streets to protest violence in our communities, and others have started or worked with organizations on the ground to stem the tide.

Black people, like others, are also vocal of how we’re portrayed in the media (peep the NAACP’s STOP Campaign), we are working to reform our own health, we overwhelmingly marry each other, we work to change our communities, and engage in all of the positive things as others. But you wouldn’t know any of this because we are our own worst critics.


Why are we so willing to believe the most negative things about ourselves, despite evidence to the contrary?

The next time someone fixes their mouth to say “black people don’t…,” perhaps you should tell them to take a look in the mirror to see if they’re among the folks talking loud, but really saying nothing at all.

What do you think?

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