October 01, 2009 | | Comments 16

What The Murder of Derrion Albert Says About America

Chicago Beating Death Vigilby Demetrius D. Walker

You’ve seen it by now.  The whole world has seen the carnage that ensued amidst the brawl that resulted in Derrion Albert losing his life.  Shock, astonishment, and tearful resentment filled your psyche as you watched Black youth try their best to destroy each other on a Chicago street corner.  Some of you implicate the parents, while others blame the lack of police intervention.  Many of you disgustedly threw your arms in the air and simply muttered “ni**az” out of frustration.  Regardless of the reaction, few people can point to the true root of the Hip Hop Generation’s destructive mentality, and even fewer have a solution to resolve the issue at hand.  Grounded in both street knowledge and formal education, I will tackle both conflicts head on.

Coincidentally, I had just finished re-reading Cornel West’s poignant best seller Race Matters when I was alerted to Brother Albert’s untimely demise.  West, who I’ve had the privilege to meet on 2 separate occasions, aptly describes the dark mentality that has infected our youth as Black nihilism.  According to Dr. West:

The proper starting point for the crucial debate about the prospects for black America is an examination of the nihilism that increasingly pervades black communities. Nihilism is to be understood here not as a philosophic doctrine that there are no rational grounds for legitimate standards or authority; it is, far more, the lived experience of coping with a life of horrifying meaninglessness, hopelessness, and (most important) lovelessness. The frightening result is a numbing detachment from others and a self-destructive disposition toward the world. Life without meaning, hope, and love breeds a coldhearted, mean-spirited outlook that destroys both the individual and others.

Clearly Black nihilism, as defined by Cornel West is what you witnessed in the footage capturing Derrion Albert’s murder.  No other concept can better explain an honor roll student being violently beaten to death by two Black rival gangs.

So now that the true issue has been identified, we must not only address how we arrived at this destination, but more importantly how we progress beyond this roadblock.  Let’s start with America overall.  We live in a society completely enamored with violence.  Boxing is the sport of yesteryear… we need the blood and gore of Ultimate Fighting to keep us entertained.  Furthermore, nobody loves guns as much as we do.  Estimates put the number of guns in this country at 250 million.  In fact, instead of our law making officials searching for a solution to combat the murder rate in the city where Derrion Albert met his demise, the Supreme Court was busy hearing a 2nd Amendment case arguing that citizens of Chicago need easier access to guns!  On the heels of people bringing machine guns to Obama rallies and the Virginia Tech massacre still lingering in our subconscious, there is still a contingent of people that believe we don’t have enough guns in this country.  What kind of message does that send to our children and subsequent generations of Americans?  We are perpetuating a cycle of violent behavior.

Narrowing the scope of the issues that led to Derrion’s death, I would be remiss not to mention the lack of positive Black role models, leaders, mentors, and parents that exist in the Black community.  Who do you think the thugs captured on video cite as their major influences in life?  I can assure you it’s not Cornell West.  It’s obviously not their hometown hero Barack either.  The choices can only be A) Older thugs, B) No one at all, or C) Jackasses like THIS that tell them “f**k school, come and [gang]bang with us.”

Watching the Derrion Albert beating, I could not help but to recall my public school days in the Bronx where I had to hide my flawless report card from the menacing degenerates that employed the “f**k school” mentality.  Being a straight A scholar was considered being a nerd, a no-no, an enemy to Black street life.  Essentially, I would have been the target of unwarranted beatdowns had anyone discovered my true love of intellectualism.  This is the mentality that must shift if there is to be any hope for the future of Black America.  We have to teach Black youth that Smart Is The New Gangsta.  The sooner Black people embrace this concept, the sooner we will see a turn for the best in our community.  To get there we will need strong mentorship programs, Black male retreats, and more positive images of Blacks in the media.  Tragedies like Derrion Albert’s death can be avoided if we turn the anger and despair we felt from watching his broadcasted murder into action.  Go out and find a mentee today.  Schedule some time to hang out with your little bad a** cousins, nieces, and nephews.  Stop supporting entertainment that condones Black on Black violence as a way of life.  As we pray that Brother Derrion Albert rests in peace, do not allow his senseless murder to sow the seeds of apathy in your life.

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  1. 80sbby90skd says:

    Couldn’t have said it better.

  2. datdude says:

    well said brother.. so now what do we do?

  3. zach says:

    Would it not be better if we threw out the “helping blacks” mentality? It seems to perpetuate the notion that we are not equal and somehow black youth is different and must maintain their differences no matter how much ignorance it supports.
    Maybe I am just crazy but I don’t believe this is a race thing. Actually… I don’t think any of the issues you talk about is a race thing. I don’t believe in racism and the sheer acknowledgment of it supports it.

  4. Zach,

    Choosing to ignore racism is not going to make it go away. The issue being addressed is Black on Black violence which is epidemic in this country. Yes, America has a violence issue in general, which I acknowledged, but this disproportionately affects the lives of young Black men. Failure to acknowledge that and address the issue will only lead to inaction. How can you say this is not a race thing? Look at the sheer statistics of those who comprise the murder rate in Chicago. It’s overwhelmingly Black. What do you suppose is causing Black men to kill each other and die at a higher rate than any other race in this country? Do you think this is just our imagination?

  5. BostonBrowning says:

    I totally agree. I know I have some bad a** cousins that I need to pay more attention to. lol .. I was lucky enough to have parents that stressed education, but they did not. Sometimes we are looking to make a difference ‘someone’s’ life when there are people right around us that need help.

  6. zach says:

    I agree to an extent dwalker but we also have hispanic and whites kiling each other. Gangs are stupid and we need to find a way to rid society of them. More opportunities to youth should be given. Not black youth support groups. Why even discriminate?
    If anything it will give non black children feelings of ill will because of the difference of treatment. That, in turn, will further pry us from racial equality.

  7. Zach,

    Nobody is discounting that gang violence is senseless across all races. To realistically make a difference we must address the issue in the community where it is most prominent. From there we can generate a replicable model to alleviate the issue in all other communities. Trying to eliminate all gang violence across all races would be fruitless without addressing the specific socioeconomic factors that cause each segment of individuals to stray from social norms.

  8. zach says:

    Agreed, but you are advocating help for only blacks. I also don’t think they should be segmented by race, wouldn’t geographic location be more efficient? Cultures tend to change as location does and it seems it would be easier to tackle one tainted culture at a time.

  9. Serbinhio says:

    Che you say “The sooner Black people embrace this concept, the sooner we will see a turn for the best in our community.”

    The sooner this concept can be taught to kids all over the world, the sooner we’ll see a decrease in senseless and wasteful losses of life. I’m from the Balkans, kids over there are also becoming more violent against each other…football hooliganism is just an example.

    Good read though a terrible story – didn’t hear about this happening.

  10. UHURUBE says:

    Nihilism…. Sad but true, its like Nas said though we are fighting the wrong war Genocide has to stop on a national level!

  11. Great info. Thanks for sharing

  12. Pistolina says:


    What the hell? Okay, I am a white girl. I agree with you on one point– I think that the way white people use the concept of “we must help black people” to put themselves above black people is disgusting. But that is because white people use it as a way to exert their superiority. But I don’t think that that is how you meant it. I don’t see how you can be so blind as to read these kinds of accounts and insist that these are not the results of racism. When you have kids who are being told they will not amount to anything, what the hell else do you expect them to do? You try living with hatred piled on yourself both explicitly and implicitly every single day of your life and see if you don’t adopt the kind of nihilism Demetrius is talking about.

    I am appalled by the idea of “not believing” in racism. Racism is so real and so virulent and it hurts so many people every day. It needs to be eradicated and you can’t eradicate it if you don’t acknowledge that it exists. Seriously, where the hell do you get off saying you don’t believe in it?

  13. YoGirl says:

    Zach…my bro…. you got issues ~~~

  14. Willena Loge says:

    Thank you for the sensible critique. Me and my cousin were just preparing to do some research on this. We got a book from our local library but I think I learned more from this post. I am very glad to see such great information being shared freely out there.

  15. Paleo lunch says:

    There are some attention-grabbing deadlines in this post: What The Murder of Derrion Albert Says About America : the dangerousNEGRO, however I don’t know if I see all of them center to heart. There may be some validity however I will take hold opinion till I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we would like more! Added to FeedBurner as effectively.

  16. cliquez says:

    Encore un super post! J’y avais justement pense mais je n’avais encore jamais pris le temps de l ecrire sur mon blog Faites y un tour et laissez moi un petit commentaire!

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