No Snitching Culture is Destroying the Black Community
We are adding to our trauma.
Since the 1990s, the no snitching culture has devastated the Black community. When I say “devastated” I mean the number of crimes unresolved in our communities. Too many victims and not enough justice. When someone is robbed or shot, if there isn’t video evidence often the culprit gets away with the crime. Usually, there are witnesses to give the police important details, but their mouths remain shut.
The answer is in two parts: 1) distrust of the legal system which includes the police and 2) being seen as someone who betrays their community. The first one I can understand to some extent. Black people don’t like the police for many valid reasons. The police in Black communities have so much of their blood on our hands. They’ve shot and killed so many Black men, women, in children in the nearly 500 years that our ancestors have been in this country. The trust just isn’t there.
Secondly, if you’re seen helping the police in any way you’re viewed as a traitor to the race. Black people who help the police are viewed as just as bad as the police. In addition, many in the Black community feel that if a crime is committed by one of their own, it should be handled within the community. Usually, that just means more violence.
It’s a vicious cycle. It’s also a generational issue. Old Black folks, like Baby boomers, would rather report to the police a crime than a Millenial or Gen Zer. Many of my students are a part of Generation Z and use the snitch word often when it comes to things in the classroom. For example, I told students I would be contacting parents about attendance, behavior, and homework. The word “snitch” flew from a boy’s mouth before he could stop it. I gave him a hard look and he quickly apologized.
Anti snitching culture has led to thousands of Black lives and communities suffering from street violence. Gangs and drugs have plagued our communities for decades. If it weren’t for the police in my city, many communities of color would still be under siege. I remember one year in the early 1990s when my city had over 100 deaths from street violence. People were prisoners in their homes. You didn’t want to be in certain neighborhoods after dark. Night activities often led to bullets flying.
Lately, it seems that there has been a resurgence in street violence. Just yesterday, on Talbot Avenue, a little girl was grazed in the head by a bullet. She’ll be alright physically, but I wonder about her mental state. If she had been my daughter, we’d be packing up and moving as far away as possible. Probably to the suburbs. I’d rather deal with racist assholes than my own people.
Fortunately, the police apprehended the shooter. He was caught not too long after the little girl was injured. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the young man in handcuffs. It’s sad that his life has come to this. Who was his intended target? What happened to cause that young man to want to hurt or kill someone? Mental health in communities of color is also a high priority need.
In the Black community, we must encourage each other to report crimes and trust the justice system. To prevent crime, we must have neighborhood watches and community meetings to protect each other. If people knew their neighbors, they’d more likely look out for one another. Nowadays, people don’t know who lives next door.
We need to have neighborhood events like block parties and cookouts. We need to use local resources like libraries to hold cultural events. We must utilize Zoom to hold space for each other online. Snitching is a relic that has harmed our communities. We must encourage everyone to speak up and speak out. Crime can’t be allowed to control our lives.