Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Violence and race: a two-way street

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor
updated 3:14 PM EDT, Wed April 11, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • LZ Granderson says a video of a white man being beaten in Baltimore is sickening
  • He says as we await outcome of Trayvon Martin case, more focus is needed on other crimes
  • Granderson: Black community rallies to fight injustice but not when "perpetrators look like us"
  • He says black community needs to grapple with crime of all kinds

Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs. Watch him on CNN with Don Lemon Sundays at 6 p.m. ET.

(CNN) -- Within the next day or two we could hear from the special prosecutor's office about her decision on whether to charge George Zimmerman.

Regardless of what she says, chances are a lot of people are not going to be happy with the decision. It's an emotional story with many layers that will likely end with more questions than answers, and more division than unity along racial lines.

I know when I heard about Trayvon Martin's killing, the story immediately touched my heart because I could see my own 15-year-old son in Trayvon.

LZ Granderson
LZ Granderson

Similarly, when I heard about the apparent racially motivated killing spree in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last week, it angered me because I could see my brothers and uncles in the slain victims.

But something different happened inside when I saw the video of a white tourist being savagely beaten and stripped by a bunch of black thugs in Baltimore over St. Patrick's Day weekend.

My heart wasn't touched.

I didn't get angry.

Instead, I just became cold.

I didn't want the individuals involved to be arrested.

I wanted them thrown in jail for life. I thought what possible good could adults who would do that to another human being bring to society? Some folks can be rehabilitated, but sometimes it's best to just cut our losses. Why bother wasting taxpayers' dollars on a trial over something that simply cannot and should not be defended? As I watched the helpless man being kicked and heard him being laughed at, I just wanted those hoodlums escorted to solitary confinement and the key thrown away.

As I told you, I became cold.

Sick even.

I posted the video on my Facebook wall and soon found myself in a conversation with a buddy of mine, Brian, who I've known since grad school. In my frustration I e-mailed "I hate people."

Brian immediately hit back: "No you don't. You love people, that is why this upset you so much."

He was right. I don't hate people. I just hated what happened to that guy, just like I hated what happened to the victims in Tulsa. But what I really hate is how the video is only going to confirm what so many whites think about blacks and the arrests are only going to confirm what so many blacks think about whites.

That's where much of the focus will inevitably go instead of to what I think is far more important, and that is what blacks think about ourselves. I don't need to tell you what the response from the black community would be if the victim in the Baltimore video was black and the assailants white. But for some reason many blacks puree crimes of this nature through some warped situational ethics filter, which in the end only makes a mockery of the community more than it empowers it.

For if President Obama had a son, he would look like Trayvon, but he would also look like one of the assailants in that video. That's the uncomfortable truth that the black community must deal with: Racism still hurts us, but not nearly as much as we hurt ourselves.

The same weekend the man in Baltimore was attacked, in Chicago 10 people were killed and 40 were wounded, including a 6-year-old girl who was shot dead while she was playing on the front porch of her home in the Little Village neighborhood.

Neighborhoods such as Little Village, and West Englewood, which has a homicide rate five times that of the rest of the city, are mostly black and Latino. Since 2008, nearly 80% of the more than 500 killings of youth in Chicago have occurred in the 22 black and Latino neighborhoods. Those deaths are not coming by the hands of the KKK but by people who look a lot like the ones in that St. Patrick's Day video.

Or the ones in the video that went viral in February in which a bunch of black thugs attacked a black man as he left a grocery store.

Or the ones in the video that went viral three years ago in which a bunch of black thugs attacked and killed a 16-year-old honor roll student, who was also black.

Sadly, I could go on, but I think the picture is clear.

What isn't as clear is what the black community is going to do about it.

We know how to come together and fight against injustice when the alleged perpetrators are white. However we're not quite sure how to deal with injustice as a community when the perpetrators look like us -- and that is troubling, because when you look at the statistics, it seems the survival of the black community depends more on figuring that part out than dealing with the George Zimmermans of the world.

Follow us on Twitter: @CNNOpinion

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of LZ Granderson.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 1:33 AM EST, Thu December 25, 2014
Danny Cevallos says the legislature didn't have to get involved in regulating how people greet each other
updated 6:12 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Marc Harrold suggests a way to move forward after the deaths of NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.
updated 8:36 AM EST, Wed December 24, 2014
Simon Moya-Smith says Mah-hi-vist Goodblanket, who was killed by law enforcement officers, deserves justice.
updated 2:14 PM EST, Wed December 24, 2014
Val Lauder says that for 1,700 years, people have been debating when, and how, to celebrate Christmas
updated 3:27 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Raphael Sperry says architects should change their ethics code to ban involvement in designing torture chambers
updated 10:35 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Paul Callan says Sony is right to call for blocking the tweeting of private emails stolen by hackers
updated 7:57 AM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
As Christmas arrives, eyes turn naturally toward Bethlehem. But have we got our history of Christmas right? Jay Parini explores.
updated 11:29 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
The late Joe Cocker somehow found himself among the rock 'n' roll aristocracy who showed up in Woodstock to help administer a collective blessing upon a generation.
updated 4:15 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
History may not judge Obama kindly on Syria or even Iraq. But for a lame duck president, he seems to have quacking left to do, says Aaron Miller.
updated 1:11 PM EST, Tue December 23, 2014
Terrorism and WMD -- it's easy to understand why these consistently make the headlines. But small arms can be devastating too, says Rachel Stohl.
updated 1:08 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Ever since "Bridge-gate" threatened to derail Chris Christie's chances for 2016, Jeb Bush has been hinting he might run. Julian Zelizer looks at why he could win.
updated 1:53 PM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
New York's decision to ban hydraulic fracturing was more about politics than good environmental policy, argues Jeremy Carl.
updated 3:19 PM EST, Sat December 20, 2014
On perhaps this year's most compelling drama, the credits have yet to roll. But we still need to learn some cyber lessons to protect America, suggest John McCain.
updated 5:39 PM EST, Mon December 22, 2014
Conservatives know easing the trade embargo with Cuba is good for America. They should just admit it, says Fareed Zakaria.
updated 8:12 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
We're a world away from Pakistan in geography, but not in sentiment, writes Donna Brazile.
updated 12:09 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
How about a world where we have murderers but no murders? The police still chase down criminals who commit murder, we have trials and justice is handed out...but no one dies.
updated 6:45 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
The U.S. must respond to North Korea's alleged hacking of Sony, says Christian Whiton. Failing to do so will only embolden it.
updated 4:34 PM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
President Obama has been flexing his executive muscles lately despite Democrat's losses, writes Gloria Borger
updated 2:51 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Jeff Yang says the film industry's surrender will have lasting implications.
updated 4:13 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Newt Gingrich: No one should underestimate the historic importance of the collapse of American defenses in the Sony Pictures attack.
updated 7:55 AM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
Dean Obeidallah asks how the genuine Stephen Colbert will do, compared to "Stephen Colbert"
updated 12:34 PM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Some GOP politicians want drug tests for welfare recipients; Eric Liu says bailed-out execs should get equal treatment
updated 8:42 AM EST, Thu December 18, 2014
Louis Perez: Obama introduced a long-absent element of lucidity into U.S. policy on Cuba.
updated 12:40 PM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
The slaughter of more than 130 children by the Pakistani Taliban may prove as pivotal to Pakistan's security policy as the 9/11 attacks were for the U.S., says Peter Bergen.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT