At a Tipping Point on Violence, What Will Detroit Do About It?


So what are we going to do now?

I’m not asking what black people are going to do.

I’m not asking what white people are going to do.

I’m asking what we all are going to do about the violence escalating in our region.

The conversation didn’t begin with the beating of Steve Utash, the white Macomb County tree trimmer who was brutally attacked after stopping to help a black child he hit with his truck.

We’ve been talking about it all the time, about …

… the elderly women who’ve been raped

… the elderly security guard shot while patrolling his church grounds

… the 17-year-old with a future shot by a guy who didn’t like how he looked at him

… the young woman shot on the stoop of a man who didn’t bother to look out through the door to see who was there

… the elderly men and veterans attacked at gas stations

… and the stand-your-ground incidents of people shooting home intruders.

We can stop the train and treat the violence like it’s a problem for all of us. Or we can keep pointing fingers.

Since the Utash beating, some people have been upset that everybody’s upset. Some white folks want Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to come and march in honor of Utash. (No, I don’t get it either). Some black people are asking where the outrage has been over the other instances of crime that have plagued the city for so long that we stopped counting the victims.

Why didn’t the community care in a big way until a black mob beat a white guy?

That is the wrong question. The question is: Why didn’t the community care in a big way until THIS guy?

And that is why we need to stop the train.

Everyone cared so much this time because this community, this entire community that includes three counties, more than a hundred townships and the state’s only true urban city, finally reached its tipping point.

Defined by author Malcolm Gladwell as “the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point, when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips and spreads like wildfire,” the Utash beating brought to a boil all the outrage over every beating, every shooting, every killing, every assault.

Most of us aren’t more outraged by what happened to Utash. It was just the incident that made so many of us say: “Enough.”

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Source: Detroit Free Press | Rochelle Riley

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