December 13, 2007 — Vol. 43, No. 18
Send this page to a friend!


Melvin B. Miller
Editor & Publisher

The KKK — Unfortunate irrelevancy

Every day, in major cities across the country, the sound of gunfire disturbs the tranquility of black communities. Young men have developed an ethos that requires violent confrontation to resolve even minor disagreements. The rising death toll includes innocent bystanders and cases of mistaken identity.

The victims are usually young men whose short lives have been terminated before they have made a name for themselves. Their anonymity makes it easier for the community to be indifferent about the loss. But when the deceased is a person who has attained some celebrity, the incident cannot be easily ignored.

The recent murder of Sean Taylor at his home in Florida attracted national attention. Although he was only 24, his outstanding play as a safety for the Washington Redskins football team made him a star. This death was too outrageous to ignore. A number of commentators felt compelled to respond to this shooting.

Jason Whitlock, a sportswriter for the Kansas City Star and, gained public notoriety earlier this year for his comments on the Don Imus affair. In a continuing journalistic tirade against gangster rap and youth violence, he coined the term “Black KKK,” which seemed to delight the talk radio audience.

Whitlock’s rationale is that black Americans organized opposition to the racial oppression and lynching of the KKK and won that battle. However, little is done to deter blacks who prey upon their own communities.

Clearly, Whitlock wants an end to the carnage, but the term “Black KKK” is an unfortunate diversion. The historical memory of the decades of racial oppression and lynching by the Ku Klux Klan is still very strong among African Americans. Consequently, mention of the KKK focuses attention on that issue rather than on strategies to resolve the urban violence.

In 1900, the federal government reported 106 lynchings in the U.S. In 1910, the number was 67. While undoubtedly some homicides that were lynchings may have been omitted, that death rate is dwarfed by the present-day killings in just one city in one year. In 2006, there were 596 murders in New York, 480 in Los Angeles, 468 in Chicago, 418 in Detroit and 406 in Philadelphia, to list only some of the large cities. While the significance of lynching must never be trivialized, the magnitude of urban homicide in black America is too great for rhetorical distractions to impede the search for solutions.

An avoidable crisis

A substantial reduction in the level of urban violence requires an effective police force. Close police-community relations would make it more difficult for miscreants to commit crimes without being apprehended. Unfortunately, while most police officers behave in a highly professional manner, there are some who cause considerable concern in the community.

It is bad enough that some police officers are involved in illegal drug trafficking or are guilty of using excessive force against citizens, but their misdeeds do not stop there. An unidentified police officer recently notified the Boston Herald that Rev. Bruce Wall’s 15-year-old son was a person of interest in a series of armed robberies.

Every police officer worth his salt knows that an identification from a photo lineup is very weak evidence of involvement. In fact, it turns out that the identification was mistaken. The real suspect has been apprehended. But in the meantime, the Wall family has been forced to suffer the threat of their son’s arrest and the extensive search of their home.

Such senseless acts by the police make the public leery of informing on their neighbors who may be involved in criminal activity.


“If Taylor wasn’t a professional football star, nobody would give a damn.”

Back to Top