Ask A Black Woman: Why are Blacks committing all the crimes lately in Maine and doesn't this say something about Black people's natural inclinations?
Since this question arrived with no indication of where the person lives or whether it's really a Mainer who asked it, I won't hold it against any of you other fine folks. I will, however, use it as a springboard.
It seems likely that its genesis is the February 10 shooting death of Serge Mulongo, who officials allege was gunned down by Daudoit Butsitsi — possibly aided by Moses Okot. There have been other crimes involving Blacks, whether African-Americans or immigrants from Africa, but Maine has a fairly low crime rate. Whites are still responsible for the vast majority of crimes, violent and otherwise — which fits the stats, since Whites are well over 90 percent of the population. And most homicides in the state are still committed by Whites — mostly within the confines of family, marital, and other close relationships.
I'm not going to accuse the media around here of being quicker to run news of African-Americans or African immigrants who commit crimes, even though I'm tempted to. I simply don't have any data to back it up. What I will say, though, is that it likely stands out more when we see that dark face on the news, particularly to Whites but also to someone like me who says, "Oh, shit, another person giving us Blacks a black eye."
But the fact is that when you crunch the numbers, that Black person walking by you on the streets isn't really any more likely to attack you or rob you than the more numerous Whites you passed earlier. In fact, we tend to harm people who are our own color most of the time, regardless of what color that is.
I honestly don't know why Blacks in Maine, particularly the Somali and Sudanese communities in Portland, are facing so many issues with their young that result in violence. My guess though is like any community facing challenges — such as lack of access to employment, financial hardship, and cultural barriers to social acclimation — they find themselves in situations where tensions can run high.
Talking things out can be difficult — violence can seem easy. At times it becomes the preferred method for dealing with problems. Consider the fact that the worse the economy gets, the more Whites there are who become more vocal about suggesting that it's time for an armed revolution against the federal government. So it's not just color at play here.
I think we are seeing communities that don't feel like they have a voice — whether that is true or not — and the consequence of not having a voice is sometimes violent outbursts or even uprisings. Yet we can not lump all people of color together.
To look at any of the cases I've mentioned and generally apply criminal inclinations to Blacks in Maine, whether African-American or African, would be as foolish as me looking at congressman Trent Franks, who days ago said, "African-Americans were better off under slavery" because of what he called high abortion rates among Blacks, and assuming that since Arizona citizens elected him, then most Arizonans would prefer to see abortion criminalized and slavery reinstituted.
Shay Stewart-Bouley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.