How Newark Can Mend

I have a confession to make.

I assumed that those responsible for the horrific murders of Terrence Aeriel, Dashon Harvey and Ofemi Hightower looked liked me.

That is, I assumed that they, like each of the victims, were black.

Indeed, a recent U.S. Department of Justice study confirmed that I was justified in my belief.

The study, released by the department’s Bureau of Statistics last week, showed that although blacks comprise only 13 percent of the U.S. population, they represented nearly half of the nation’s murder victims in 2005. The study’s most startling finding, though, was that most of the black murder victims – an astonishing 93 percent – were killed by other black people.

In other words, more than 9 out of every 10 black murder victims die at the hands of another black person.

I assumed, incorrectly, that the same was true here. And I was not alone.

It turns out, however, that those charged with the murders of the three young friends are not black folks. They are Latinos, a few of whom are in New Jersey illegally.

To be sure, many of Newark’s racially diverse residents have been drawn together after the shocking murders.

Others have sought, with some increasing frequency, to make an issue of the perpetratrors’ immigration status (and the immigration issue more broadly), arguing that we should “send illegals back” to their home countries.

The statistic above clearly demonstrates that mass deportation of illegal immigrants would have no impact on the rate at which blacks are murdered in communities like Newark.

More fundamentally, the plight of immigrants mirrors the struggles faced by blacks not that long ago.

Consider this scenario:

In the years between 1915 and 1970, 7 million migrants crossed Southern borders bound for economic opportunities in Northern cities like Newark, Baltimore, Detroit, Chicago and New York. A great number of them had little, if any, formal education. They were unskilled but were very willing to work.

Enticed by industries that promised gainful employment, those migrants worked for less money than the existing labor force, building resentment amid claims that these migrants were stealing jobs and driving down wages.

This is the story, not of the illegal immigrants who are at the center of the current debate, but that of the millions of blacks who left the American South following the abolition of slavery.

Black people are this country’s first and only involuntary illegal immigrants. We were kidnapped from the African coast and dragged to the American shores for decades after the “legal” slave trade ended in 1808.

In the cloud of historical amnesia, and faced with this horrific tragedy, some of us overlook the fact that the debate surrounding immigration today echoes the issues that confronted blacks in the recent past.

The lessons taught by black history provide the strongest argument for rejecting forces that seek to weaken all of us by dividing us.

And division is precisely what focusing on the irrelevant immigration status of perpetrators creates.

In the wake of the tragic murders of three of Newark’s promising young people, we must, more than ever, bond together and rebuild our city.

And we must do that together.


More articles by:
April 08, 2020
John Kendall Hawkins
Slavoj Žižek’s Virulent Polemic Against Covid-19, and Stuff!
Nyla Ali Khan
Finding Meaning and Purpose in Adversity
April 07, 2020
Joel McCleary – Mark Medish
Paradigm Shift by Pandemic
Matt Smith
Amazon Retaliation: Workers Striking Back
Kenneth Surin
What The President Said (About The Plague)
Patrick Cockburn
The Chaotic Government Response to COVID-19 Resembles the Failures of 1914
Marshall Auerback
The Coronavirus Pandemic Has Opened the Curtains on the World’s Next Economic Model
Vijay Prashad, Paola Estrada, Ana Maldonado, and Zoe PC
Trump Sends Gun Boats to Venezuela While the World Partners to Fight a Deadly Pandemic
Jeremy Lent
Coronavirus Spells the End of the Neoliberal Era. What’s Next?
Dean Baker
The Big Hit: COVID-19 and the Economy
Nino Pagliccia
A Simple Democratic Transition Framework for Venezuela: End All “Sanctions”
Colin Todhunter
Locked Down and Locking in the New Global Order
Robert Fisk
Biden Says He ‘Doesn’t Have Enough Information’ on Iran to Have a Vew. How Odd, He Negotiated the Nuclear Deal
Wim Laven
GOP’s Achievement is Now on Display
Binoy Kampmark
Boastful Pay Cuts: the Coronavirus Incentive
Dave Lindorff
It’s Spring and I’ve Turned 71 in a Pandemic-Induced Recession
Steve Brown
FLASH! Trump Just Endorsed Bernie’s Medicare-For-All Health Plan
Marc Haggerty
Class and COVID-19: Those Who Can and Those Who Can’t
Manuel García, Jr.
A Reply to Jeffrey St. Clair’s “Strange Things Happening Every Day”
George Wuerthner
How Fuel Breaks Fuel Fires
Marshall Sahlins
Election 2020
April 06, 2020
Richard D. Wolff
COVID-19 and the Failures of Capitalism
W. T. Whitney
Donald Trump, Capitalism, and Letting Them Die
Cesar Chelala
Cuba’s Promising Approach to Cancer
David A. Schultz
Camus and Kübler-Ross in a Time of COVID-19 and Trump
Nomi Prins 
Wall Street Wins, Again: Bailouts in the Time of Coronavirus
Dean Baker
Getting to Medicare-for-All, Eventually
Dave Lindorff
Neither Pandemic Nor Economic Collapse is Going to Be a Short-Lived Crisis
Sonali Kolhatkar
Capitalism in America Has Dropped the Mask: Its Face is Cruel and Selfish
Ralph Nader
Trump’s 7 Pro-Contagion Reversals Increase the Coronavirus Toll
David Swanson
A Department of Actual Defense in a Time of Coronavirus
Ellen Brown
Was the Fed Just Nationalized?
Jeff Birkenstein
Postcards From Trump
Nick Licata
Authoritarian Leaders Rejected the Danger of a COVID-19 Pandemic Because It Challenged Their Image
Kathy Kelly
“He’s Got Eight Numbers, Just Like Everybody Else”
Graham Peebles
Change Love and the Need for Unity
Kim C. Domenico
Can We Transform Fear to Strength In A Time of Pandemic?
Mike Garrity
Alliance for the Wild Rockies Files Lawsuit to Stop Logging and Burning Project in Rocky Mountain Front Inventoried Roadless Area
Stephen Cooper
“The Soul Syndicate members dem, dem are all icons”: an Interview with Tony Chin
Weekend Edition
April 03, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Omar Shaban
Gaza’s New Conflict: COVID-19
Rob Urie
Work, Crisis and Pandemic
John Whitlow
Slumlord Capitalism v. Global Pandemic
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Strange Things Happening Every Day
Jonathan Cook
The Bigger Picture is Hiding Behind a Virus
Paul Street
Silver Linings Amidst the Capitalist Coronavirus Crisis