Saturday, April 6, 2019

Fists of Glass

For another group of conspiracists, it’s more comforting to think that, because Hussle joined with the real-estate developer David Gross to open a co-working space and STEM center in his old Crenshaw neighborhood, and was scheduled to meet with the Los Angeles police to discuss solutions for curbing gang violence in South L.A., the establishment feared him so much that it took his life. (Don’t even ask why the establishment would cut him down for preventing violence.)
It Hurts to See Nipsey Hussle’s Life Not Mattering
To talk about conspiracy theories, it helps to understand the conspiracy mindset. Why would "the establishment" have Mr. Asghedom killed for working to prevent violence? Well, if you believe that violence in Black communities in the United States is in the interests of said "establishment," it's only a short logical step from there.

In her article in "The Atlantic," Jemele Hill notes that many Black men and boys are both the targets of violence and its perpetrators, seeing it as their primary means of resolving conflicts with people like themselves. Despite the exhortations of Arrested Development in Raining Revolution, poor Black Americans have not "saved those rounds for revolution." Working to create greater opportunity, better education systems and higher levels of equality for the Black community (to the degree that we can be reasonably envisioned as a single community) as a whole has never really taken hold. Neither has taking their anger out on what they understand to be an oppressive system. Many people would disagree with Ms. Hill's assessment that the factors that result in such widespread poverty within the Black community are the causes of Black-on-Black violence. They advance an argument that they are, in fact, the effects.

And so to the degree that "the establishment" or "the White power structure" or whatever you want to call it is understood to be highly invested in denying safe, stable and prosperous lives to Black people, either out of hoarding such for White people, or out of simple malice and perversity, promoting violence in Black communities (and, therefore, preventing its reduction or elimination) is an obvious tactic in the maintenance of "White supremacy."

It's not all that difficult to understand that blaming the woes of Black America on shadowy Whites can be ego-syntonic for many. The idea "black masculinity is complex but at times riddled with toxicity" smacks of the Black pathology mantra that many people believe to be little more than a form of victim-blaming. The perception of choosing between seeing themselves as broken (and perhaps morally culpable in that) and as being on the receiving end of intentional and/or systemic injustice may lead to seeing conspiracies where none exist, but it may also be preferable to believing that bad things sometimes happen for reasons other than someone wants them to.

People realized decades ago that the violence that tends to blossom in poor, urban Black communities does nothing to improve them, even if using lethal violence to resolve interpersonal conflicts my serve the purposes of specific individuals. But when individual motivations and interests are left out of the equation, either the violence simply is or it is in the interests of another community. And I have met far too many people who are uncomfortable with an uncontrolled universe to believe that people won't see another hand at work.

Unpacking the violence in the Black community means accepting it as a rational response to a set of perverse incentives that have grown up, and potentially ossified, over the years. That may produce, as unlikely as I think it, an external culprit; some organization or institution that has deliberately created this situation out of a nefarious motivation. But it may also produce the understanding that life is simply full of perverse incentives; that this is simply the nature of living. There may be no one or nothing to blame, it may just be, and need to be changed.

In the end, part of what drives this is the idea that conspiracies are driven by giants made of glass. They may be vast and powerful, but they are ultimately Goliaths, and all that it takes to bring them down is a well-placed and courageous David. But this glass Goliath is aware of the danger. It's also aware that being David is beyond the reach of the ordinary person (even if slings and stones are not), and so all it needs to do is hunt the Davids wherever they appear. Striking down these chosen ones may only delay the inevitable, but what else had Goliath to do with its time?

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