Black on Black Violence: The Psychodynamics of Black Self-Annihilation in Service of White Domination, by Amos Wilson. New York: Afrikan World InfoSystems. 1990. $17.00
In Black on Black Violence, Dr. Amos Wilson broadened the discussion on black on black violence by differing from the academic and political norm of blaming “deviant” Black culture, lack of job skills, inadequate education, broken homes, etc. and moving toward an explanation of Black-on black violence as being a result and reaction to white-on-Black violence. In fact Dr. Wilson goes further to argue that the existence of much of the violence in Black communities is maintained at the behest of white supremacy and is necessary to maintain the subversion of Black political and economic power by white supremacist structures not only in America, but throughout the rest of the world as well. Dr. Wilson argues that white America: her culture, socio-political institutions, her economic system, civil religion, criminal justice system, etc. are maintained and effectively function due to Black criminality.
Black men kill each other because they have not yet chosen to challenge and neutralize on every front the widespread power of white men to rule over their lives. (pg. xiii)
However, Dr. Wilson is very careful not to generalize and put all Black crime under the umbrella of white supremacy:
It is important to note that this book does not purport to offer an explanation of “Black crime” or of the “Black criminal”. It is mainly concerned with the psychological and political mechanisms by which a measurable minority of Black Americans is induced to interact violently with each other- in ways which threaten their vital interests and survivability by the white American community need to maintain socio-economic supremacy. (pgs. xix-xx)
Amos N. Wilson, PhD was more than qualified to maintain and argue such conclusions. At the time of the book’s publication, Dr. Wilson, who took an undergraduate degree in psychology from Morehouse College and finished his graduate studies in psychology at Fordham University, was a professor at The School of New Resources, College of New Rochelle. He also gained practical insight of the inner working of the criminal justice system through his experience as a social caseworker, supervising probation officer, psychological counselor, and training administrator in New York City Department of Juvenile Justice. Most importantly, Dr. Wilson was an adherent of the Afrikan-centered worldview and an ardent Pan-Afrikanist who believed in the total liberation of global Afrikan people through unity and self-determination.
Black-on-Black Violence includes twelve chapters in which Dr. Wilson lays out the rationale for his argument. In Chapter One, “The Sociopolitical Necessity of Black Criminality”, Wilson outlines the idea that the criminality of Black men is a necessity for America to maintain its hegemony over Black people. It at once serves a political, economic, psycho-social, and cultural justification or the underdevelopment and subjugation of Black sovereignty. In Chapter Two, “Quantifying a Myth: Statistics and Black Criminality”, we see a critical deconstruction of the idea that the prevalence of Black criminality can be proven statistically. Dr. Wilson writes that the stats are not necessarily objective, but reflect the racial bias and agenda of those who produce the stats. In Chapter Three, “American Society- Crimogenic Society”, Wilson rightly places Black on Black violence in the context of America’s history of violence. He maintains that Black violence is not some unique aberration in America because this nation, with its history of genocide and enslavement, is a crimogenic society: a society which encourages criminal behavior in its citizens even as it purports to ameliorate it. Chapter Four, “The Creation of the Black-on-Black Criminal”, Chapter Five: “The Identity Crisis of the Black-on-Black Criminal”, and Chapter Six: “Self-Alienation” are a series of chapters focusing on Dr. Wilson’s psychological arguments regarding the phenomena of Black on Black violence. He argues that the Black criminal who preys on the Black community exists as a psychological reaction (albeit destructive) to the collective powerlessness of Black people. The Black on Black criminal subconsciously seeks to distinguish himself from “the rest of those niggers” by identifying himself with the oppressor. In Chapter Seven, “Inculcating the Beast”, Amos Wilson lays out a psycho-spiritual argument for the permanence of Black on Black violence in America, arguing that this type of Black criminal is a spiritual offspring of the white on Black criminal. For Chapter Eight, “Chasing the American Mirage” and Chapter Nine, “Dreams Without Means” Dr. Wilson makes the economic case to explain Black criminality. In these chapters, Wilson argues that the pervasiveness of propaganda centered on “success” and the American Dream, when combined with the dire lack of resources and opportunities to achieve that success brings forth a toxic reaction among the powerless and oppressed. Chapter Ten, “Suicide”- Dr. Wilson examines the white supremacist roots of Black suicide and how it is the “tail” side of a violent coin in which Black on Black violence is the head. In Chapter Eleven, Cosmic Causation, Dr. Wilson makes a provocative argument which concludes that Black on Black violence is a result of our collective recalcitrance to white domination and the obeisance we have given to white supremacy in the name of “goodness and decency”. Finally, in Chapter Twelve, “The Neutralization of Black-on-Black Violence”, Amos Wilson provides proactive solutions for stopping internecine violence in our communities.
In summary, Black on Black Violence is a tour de force breaking new ground in sociology, criminology, and Black psychology. In a social reality in which social media has facilitated the spread of hideous anti-Afrikan propaganda more rapidly than ever before, this book remains just as relevant today as it was when it was published nearly thirty years ago. Dr. Wilson’s work continues to provide vital insight into the socio-cultural and psychological context in which much of the violence continues to exist. It is also highly recommended that the reader also studies a previous work by Dr. Wilson, Black Adolescent Male Violence, as a companion book to Black on Black Violence. We maintain that a thorough grasp of the information in these books, along with a serious and concerted effort to apply the solutions Dr. Wilson proposes therein, will take us a long way in significantly reducing violence in our communities.