Black Lives Matter flag (shutterstock)

Photo credit: shutterstock.com

The recent torture of a White teen, described as a special needs student has ignited a national dialogue on race in America. Since the inception of America the vast majority of hate crimes against people of color have been perpetrated by Whites. These crimes have included slavery, lynchings, beatings and the destruction of entire Black towns. As the circumstances of Black Americans improved in this country, hate crimes perpetrated by whites have been downplayed by some media outlets.

Overall, there still seems to be a reluctance to charge Whites with hate crimes. When Dylann Roof massacred nine members of Emmanuel AME in Charleston, South Carolina, there was an initial reluctance in some conservative media outlets to label the incident a hate crime. There were cries that Roof possibly suffered from mental illness and the killings couldn’t have been racially motivated because he liked

rap music and had a Black friend. Even police in Charleston seemed oblivious of the heinous nature of the attack and took Roof to Burger King for a delicious Whopper. Roof was convicted on federal hate crime charges in December and faces sentencing that may see him put to death by lethal injection.

Since the death of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, there has been a focus on the systemic racist oppression of Blacks in this country as shown with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. Even though the movement is nonviolent and used peaceful protest that included marching, sit-ins and other public demonstrations, the group was labeled by White conservative media as a hate group.

In the 2016 election cycle, despite Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric he was elected to the presidency in a campaign that saw multiple episodes of violence. Trump supporters were seen on camera physically assaulting members of the rally crowd who were protesting against the racist demagogue. One famous incident showed an elderly White man punching Black protesters. Despite the video evidence, the man was not charged for this hate crime even though he admitted shortly afterward that it felt good to punch one of “them.”

The four teens who kidnapped and abused their victim in Chicago have been charged with a hate crime. Jordan Hill, 18; Tesfaye Cooper, 18; and sisters Brittany, 18, and Tanisha Covington, 24 were charged with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated battery and a hate crime.

To many the charges are justified in what is an obvious heinous and malicious attack in which they made the victim shot “F—- White people” and “F— Donald Trump” as seen in the now infamous Facebook Live video. Mainstream media have now portrayed these attackers as the face of Black hate in America and even suggested that they were part of the Black Lives Matter movement. This accusation caused outrage from activists such as Sir Maejor Paige who heads the Black Lives Matter of Greater Atlanta group. But there are also many who say that the attackers should not be charged with a hate crime because Whites have not been charged in other attacks on Black victims. One popular Atlanta morning radio host fielded a number of calls that surprisingly suggested that the attackers should be given a pass on hate crime charges. Some of these comments by the callers were supported by the host. He mentioned the numerous societal issues that have confronted Blacks in America that have damaged the psyche of the young attackers responsible for the attack. He cited the lack of fathers in the home and the fact they are living in Chicago, which has been described by others as a war zone that is changing an entire generation of Black youth. The host bristled at the notion of personal responsibility for the attackers and painted the incident in Chicago as infinitesimal compared to the historical suffering of Blacks in America and stated, “They should get a pass on this one.”

For some people, the thought of Black people being racist is an impossibility because Whites have power to oppress Blacks because they control the system and economic structure in society. However, this does not mean that Black people can’t hate White people and commit crimes just as brutal as their oppressors. Hate crimes are committed by the hateful and they can be racially motivated regardless of color. The pity in the current situation is that as we move toward the era of Donald Trump’s America we can expect that crimes against Blacks by Whites will continue to be ignored. In the same token we can expect to see crimes against Whites to be consistently painted as being done by “racist” Blacks. It is clear in 2017 we will continue a bloody butcher’s bill trying to balance the ledgers of hate.

Mo Barnes

“Mo Betta”
Maurice “Mo” Barnes is a graduate of Morehouse College and Political Scientist based in Atlanta. Mo is also a Blues musician.