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The hate crime

Special to the Michigan Citizen

While incarcerated in a federal prison, I watched them come through the prison gates — street swag intact — talking tough as they were led to newly assigned cells. I taught a number of them in G.E.D. prep classes handling the “I’m the baddest MF in here” attitudes. No, no, you’re not; I am. That’s how it worked when dealing with tough azz youngsters in prison many of whom will be old men when they are released.

When you’re locked down and you see the baby-faced convicts that were raised with the expectation of prison as a rite of passage, there is a sadness but wariness, because you never know when there may be an outburst and you don’t want to be in the way.

Stay out of the way. Get through another day. Guess it’s like being a teacher in Detroit.

Prison flashbacks escaped from a compartmentalized memory box when I read the news story of how 17-year-old “mob” defendant Mr. Bruce Wimbush was labeled “incorrigible” at age10. Now Wimbush is fulfilling his destiny as filler in the grade-school-to-prison pipeline for his alleged participation in the Eastside beat-down of a white man whose pickup hit David Harris, a 10-year-old Black child that may be in the same prison pipeline.

What about the presumption of innocence, Sam?

A lynch mob skirts niceties.

Why does this make you uneasy? There is nothing for you to feel guilty about. White folks as a collective stopped feeling any pangs of guilt about us a long time ago and you hang your head in shame. Hang it in shame over an America that consigns her/our children to a human scrap heap labeling them as incorrigible in grade school beyond salvage or hope. Hang your head in shame over an America that allows 60 percent of Detroit children to live in poverty with a third-world infant mortality level. KMA.

A Black father suffers a beat-down and then is run over, killed with a car, gets scant media attention. Where is the outrage? Is a lesser value attached to a Black victim’s life? Damnbetcha it is. We need to hang our heads in shame for a dual system of compassion. Who is raising money for Black victims of crime that didn’t sign up for Obamacare? Toxicology tests were conducted on the victims Renisha McBride and Trayvon Martin; what were the results on the white victim of the Detroit beat-down?

Violent acts are wrong, but don’t believe for one minute these folk value a Black life the way they do a white life. Hang your handkerchief head in shame over that. But we must love ourselves enough to value all life equally. Race should not matter. It does. And that is an American Tragedy.

You speak of police response time in Detroit; what about America’s response to a Detroit that is comatose in critical condition?

The real hate crime is committed when America writes off her children, designating kids to be hauled away as blight warehoused in for-profit prisons. That is a hate crime.

We must never let haters cause us to lose hope or dislike ourselves and never let haters make you weak in your faith. Keep the faith. Stay on the battlefield.

Sam Riddle is political director of Michigan National Action Network. Follow him on Facebook at  or Twitter at

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