Adolph Robert Thornton Jr. or as his fans and music industry refer to him, Young Dolph, was gunned down on November 17th outside of a neighborhood bakery. While there is a level of outcry from fans and his peers within the industry, one group is noticeably silent. There is no outcry from social organizations that rally usually around a minority senselessly killed by racist vigilantes or overzealous law enforcement personnel. Are communities turning a blind eye when it is one of their own committing the inexcusable act of violence? Why is it that we only hold law enforcement or racist vigilantes accountable but not ourselves?
I do not know Young Dolph’s music but the pattern is familiar. There is a long list of talented musicians lost to violence that include Tupac Shakur, Christopher George Latore Wallace, aka Biggie Smalls, Bashar Barakah Jackson, aka Pop Smoke, and Jason William Mizell, aka Jam Master Jay just to name a few. The tragedy is that these crimes are often committed as a result of jealousy, enemies, or petty disagreements. Some may argue that all of these individuals may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time or that they never turned away from their street lifestyles. I do not know if I believe that and even if there is some truth to it, that is no excuse for anyone meeting their untimely demise at the hand of senseless violence.
During an interview in 2014 on NBC’s Meet the Press program, former NYC Mayor Guiliani stated, “I find it very disappointing that you’re not discussing the fact that 93 percent of Blacks in America are killed by other Blacks.” This charged statement started a heated debate amongst the other panelists. The issue with the statement coming from someone not a person of color and in the midst of a discussion on unjust murders committed against Black men was inappropriate at the time. However, this issue needs to be raised more within our communities by our social advocates and community leaders with the same amount of zeal seen when discussing racial issues.
The fact is, our young men and women are dying at the hands of one another and we can no longer use just the arguments of unfair opportunities or lack of education or poverty as reasons. These arguments do not hold up when so many are able to escape poverty and unsafe communities all without killing others. Young Dolph was a member of society who, according to fans, frequently gave back or tried to give back to his community. I do not know what his personal habits were or if he had any criminal ties, but many seem to agree that he was a family man dedicated to trying to be the best he could for his family and to bring up people in his area that struggled as he did.
As long as we have an element of humans walking around that do not value their lives or the lives of others, there will always be danger. No matter what resources are poured into a community there will be those intent on causing harm and destruction to those around them. Something that can change the narrative moving forward is a community’s commitment to not tolerating such violence. Lack of jobs, quality education, and other resources can have adverse impacts on communities but they are not an excuse to hurt those that look like you or any other human being. There should be just as much outcry and protest within communities of color to end senseless violence whether it is impacting someone famous, an innocent child, or a bystander going about their daily life.
There is far too much silence when we see senseless acts like this occur. Dolph was killed in a bakery, Biggie gunned down after an awards show, and Tupac killed while in a car. These high profile crimes may never be solved but just think about the countless other low profile crimes that are committed in so many of our forgotten areas in this country and beyond. How do we end it? We start by demanding change. We start by letting others know that we will not stand for senseless violence being committed where we live. No one should feel comfortable enough to walk up to a bakery in broad daylight and open fire on anyone, such as in the case of Young Dolph. This kind of cold blooded recklessness sends the message that no life is precious and ultimately no one is safe. No matter what may have previously occurred in his past, nothing justifies taking the life of a man who had loved ones and fans that adored him. There is never an excuse to kill anyone. There is also no justification involving the senseless gang violence and violent shootings going on in various areas across the country and places in the world where most instances people are killing others that look like them.
We need to see the same level of energy that drives social advocacy groups out to protest against mistreatment and murder by some law enforcement and vigilantes. That same energy should be applied and demonstrated by protesting against criminal acts committed by criminals against all people of color. Where are the protests in Memphis against this act of violence or Los Angeles or elsewhere that crime has spiked? We cannot afford to keep ignoring the issues within our community and not taking accountability for making a change. This can be accomplished by speaking out against crime, demanding better resources in unsolved crimes, and investing in cure violence models that work in concert with local law enforcement. There are many cure violence groups doing amazing work with positive results but they need all members of the community to take part. Most importantly, end the backlash that comes with speaking out and assisting local law enforcement in solving crimes. The fact is, whether you cared about Young Dolph as an artist or not, his murder represents an inexcusable pattern that is worsening. Not speaking up about it or not providing assistance to law enforcement leaves that same element wandering around to kill their next target. The question is, do you want that target to be someone you love or care about or will you do your part to spark the needed change?