Saturday, May 05, 2007

To Snitch or Not to Snitch

No pretty pictures today. There's nothing beautiful about the mentality of those who live by the "no snitch" rule. Let me put it out there that I'm not black nor male but a white woman in her late 40's. I have never lived the life that many of these young people do. I don't pretend to know what it's like to be in their shoes. While I live in the 3rd largest city in my state, I don't live in a very urban part. I stay out of that area.

What bothers me is that this code of silence in the streets makes it that much harder for crimes to be solved and for assailants and killers to be punished. Without cooperation from witnesses how can legal justice be served. I was raised to respect authority figures including police officers. I'm not naive, there are some rotten apples and dirty cops within their ranks that for whatever reason have an ax to grind, get off on bullying people or for the power trip. I don't believe that the majority of officers go into that line of work, put their own lives in danger just to frame people, shake 'em down, beat them and whatever else they get blamed for.

I understand that street cred is important to people and it's unfortunate that it can't be earned by doing the right thing. Lil' Kim comes to mind. This woman went to jail for almost 10 months rather than cooperate with police over a shooting outside of a radio station that she witnessed. Busta Rhymes, nee Trevor Smith is another one. His bodyguard was murdered in front of him and he will not talk. I'm all for loyalty but sometimes there's more to it.

I understand loyalty to one's people and to not snitch. I could be wrong about this but perhaps it goes back to slavery. Slaves did not tattletale on each other and if questioned about other slaves whether it be about a behavior or a runaway, they didn't give them up. They took the whipping. I get that. I hope that if that was me I would be able to take it also. I would like to think that I would've had the courage to be an abolitionist or an underground railroad worker. I try in my daily life to not be judgemental, I feel that we all belong to the human race. Why should anyone be treated differently. It doesn't only happen in the United States. Look at India and their caste system. I could go on about the treatment of women around the world. I'm sure every country has their problems.

I have never felt comfortable using the term African American. My son's best friend is Black. His parents are from two small Caribbean island nations. I don't refer to myself as Scottish, Canadian, German, English, White American so let's do away with those labels. Even the moniker Black is not quite right. People come in all colors like ebony, cinnamon, cafe au lait, chocolate,butterscotch, sorry to be so food related. There's a great book I read with our fifth graders every year called Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli. I highly recommend it. Seriously.

It seems to me that the Black community is self destructing. I feel for them. For a mother to loose her child to gangs, crime or murder is horrible. Black on Black crime is huge and more people need to speak out about it. It has to come from within the Black community. The White man can't do it. Instead of Sharpton and Jackson preaching about the white man bringing you down, start rattling the cage of those killing each other. These thugs need to hear how they are destroying their lives and the lives of others, many of them innocents. Distrusting the police has to change. I don't know how. I do know that this is where the do not snitch mindset comes into play. There are Black parents out there that want the best for their children, for them to rise above this nonsense. To become a contributor to a better society. That is so hard to do when you have generations that have been inducted into that everyone is against me mindset and now teach their own children the same things. Please don't get me wrong on this. I'm not lumping all Black families together. There are many black families out there that don't subscribe to these ideas. I understand that yes, it may be dangerous to speak out.

What made me decide to say this publicly is the rapper, Cam'ron. He stated on 60 Minutes that, "he would never cooperate with the cops, even if I knew a serial killer was living next to me. I wouldn't call and tell anybody on him. But I'd probably move." Also, "helping the police solve crimes goes against his code of ethics and is bad for business. " And more, "It would definitely hurt my business and the way I was raised, I just don't do that." These quotes came from the website

Is this enough to get your blood pressure up? Someone so thoughtless to others? Geoffry Canada, president of Harlem Children's Zone says this to that, "rappers like Cam'ron care more about their street credibility than the safety of their streets."

Tshirts with sayings like "Snitches get Stitches" , "Stop Snitchen" and "Ditches are for Snitches" are widely available and are seen in rap and hip hop videos. This kind of thing encourages the Black community to keep their mouth's shut when it comes to police. By promoting those ideals, the next person mugged, robbed, beaten or killed may be yourself. To think that you could have played a part in getting someone off the streets. I'll admit it takes bravery to make a stand but once it gets started, it could spread.

Am I the only one bothered by this kind of thing. NO. I encourage you to go to and read the comments left by readers. A strong leader is needed. Get over feeling like you're being picked on and take action. Don't let the thugs and punks be a representative of you culture and community.


Chelle said...

Well said!! I live near Detroit and I hear about this kind of stuff ALL the time. I don't get it.

You made some great points....awesome post!

feetman said...

I saw that quote. I think that rapper was putting on an act for the media. I am not saying that he does not live by a "no snitch" code, but he was overstating for effect. Of course, he would cooperate to get such a killer off the streets.

But the bigger issue does present an interesting social question. While not black, I was raised poor in a large urban area with few (none) white around until I moved to a new life in my high school years.

I have a very different idea of the police than the middle-class professionals (mainly white) that populate my life now. I don't see cops as good people. I see them as a law force that is necessary, but dangerous.

Crime, as I learned early, is often controlled by cops. I now befriend police officers and show respect and depend upon them for my safety, but I never stop fearing them. I know that they treat me well because of my position and people that I know.

I suspect that what the rapper really means is that he views cops with a very sceptical and suspicious eye. However, it is was good for him to have them get someon off the streets...certainly he would cooperate. If he really was a drug dealer, he would know that you canot do business without police cooperation.