by Dr. Boyce Watkins
The National Rifle Association is at it again, seeking to find ways to drum up support for a set of gun laws that don’t quite make any sense. This week, the organization put out a new ad specifically targeted toward African Americans, particularly young black men, stating that the answer to too many guns is to simply supply more guns than ever before.
An energetic young black man appears in the video. I’m not sure how much he was paid, but I expect that it was a lot. One must be well-compensated to support this kind of genocide.
“The only person responsible for your safety is you,” the video says. “Cops can’t always be there. Obama definitely can’t be there.”
The brother in the ad keeps at it:
“No one wants to fight for their protection, they want the government to do it. The same government who at one point hosed us down with water, attacked us with dogs, and wouldn’t allow us to eat at their restaurants and told us we couldn’t own guns when bumbling fools with sheets on their heads were riding around burning crosses on our lawns and murdering us.”
The video is a clearly insulting and counter-productive appeal. It relies heavily on racial anxieties and stereotypes to convince black men to support the unsettling notion that more guns on the streets are actually good for us. Given that black males are, by a long shot, the greatest victims of hand gun violence in America, we know without a doubt that more guns will only lead more of us to the grave or a prison cell. My sister, who has done autopsies in the killing fields of Chicago, often tells me about the horror stories she saw every day on the job.
But here’s where the NRA’s ad was absolutely brilliant, in a malevolent sort of way. You see, the NRA, unlike other conservatives, understands that black people are as heterogeneous as any other group of people in America. We don’t all think alike and we are incredibly diverse in our viewpoints.
Most of my Southern Baptist relatives in Kentucky don’t care much for gay marriage, my father the police officer appreciates Republican support for law enforcement (we had a lot of guns in the house growing up), and I have more than a few relatives who can’t stand Obamacare. Finally, many of the church-going black people I know don’t seem too happy that the Democrats were determined to remove the word “God” from the party platform. The perception of African Americans as “Robo-Dems” is entirely off-base and leads to quite a few missed opportunities: We owe liberals nothing, yet they owe us for giving consistent and often blind support.
While I don’t consider myself to be a conservative, the fact is that such viewpoints should be and are respected within the African American community. If the Republican Party could grow past its desire to hold on to racist and disrespectful habits, I argue that they could actually grab millions of African American votes (imagine if they’d run Colin Powell for president). So, the NRA, as underhanded as they are, might actually be trend-setters for their fellow conservatives.
But let’s be clear: The NRA is not making this ad because they care about black people. They also don’t care about white people, or anyone else in America for that matter. The NRA made this ad because they care about one thing: MONEY. The group is simply leaning on America’s commitment to the Second Amendment as a way to indirectly support illegal gun transactions that kill thousands of people ever year. If you want to see the NRA’s influence, watch videos like this one, taken on the south side of Chicago, where dozens of teenagers have found their way to automatic weapons, most of which were purchased illegally through a well-designed black market for guns. This market could be shut down pretty easily if our politicians wanted to do something about it, but the truth is that dead black men don’t bother our politicians all that much and there’s too much money being made from our demise.
The massive amount of violence that suddenly appeared in black communities when the CIA allowed guns and drugs into our streets 30 years ago has been nothing less than an absolute nightmare for millions of black families across America. Much of the violence in commercialized hip-hop is a reflection of the trauma experienced by too many black children who’ve been left by our society to die. During a melancholy reflection on the current state of affairs, the rapper Spice 1 once said these words in the song “Killerfornia”: “No self-defense laws, bullet proof vest is illegal, but you can go to the gun store and purchase yourself a Desert Eagle.” Words like these are descriptions of a horror that was made in America, where black men often have a choice between (as the rapper Ice Cube said), being “judged by 12 or carried by six.”
So, the NRA can’t, under any circumstances, present this ad as any indication that they care about the safety or well-being of young black men. At best, they are depending on the expectation of millions of black men that at some point, they are going to have to kill someone in order to keep from being killed themselves, all because the NRA and similar organizations have worked so hard to turn black America into a god-forsaken war zone.
The man in the ad’s speculation on what a black man should be doing in a gun fight makes the sad presumption that black men should expect to have to shoot other black people in order to survive. The bottom line is that NRA officials are simply investors in a well-funded civil war, and they are happy to see their guns contributing to black male genocide. Even worse is that our so-called friends in the Democratic Party are too politically cowardly to support us: The only black issue Democrats will truly support are voting rights, largely because blind support from the black community will help keep them in power. But after the election is over, we are left to fend for ourselves, without an utterance of concern for all of the black children dying in the streets.
THAT’S why this ad from the NRA is effective.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and author of the lecture series, “The 8 Principles of Black Male Empowerment.” To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here. Please join Dr. Watkins and Min. Louis Farrakhan for the forum on “Wealth, Education, Family and Community” at The University of Illinois at Chicago on March 30 at 5 pm. You can RSVP here.