Who will be the first to call the Rev. Boise Kimber a racist?
Kimber, head of the Greater New Haven Clergy Association, is Black. But last week at a rally called by that association he got away with saying something no white worthy in Connecticut could say without forfeiting his place in polite society.
With his sometime nemesis New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker at his side, and other city officials, Kimber confronted the city's social disintegration, as exemplified by the unsolved fatal shooting of 14-year-old Tyshaun Hargrove in the city's Fair Haven neighborhood Aug. 25.
"I want to speak to the Black community today," Kimber said, "because the shootings and murders going on in our city have been basically committed by our own. We're killing each other.
"It is not the police killing us. We're killing each other. And today we come to make a serious stand and give serious words to our community.
“This will stop – has to stop. We will not tolerate this in our community any longer.”
Indeed, Mayor Elicker said he had just come from the funeral of another city murder victim, Kevin Mills, shot to death two weeks before Tyshaun.
Yes, someone in New Haven knows who murdered the boy. The mayor and the other officials who stood in solidarity with the clergy association want that someone to come forward and help solve the crime.
But no, the murders will not be stopping any time soon, and it is not a simple matter of "tolerating" them. While Kimber was correct demographically about most of New Haven's murder victims and perpetrators, to leave that assertion as a rebuke, without adding crucial context, does risk abetting racism.
For Black people as a group are not generally responsible for violent crime among Blacks, nor for crime anywhere, any more than white people are generally responsible for violent crime among whites.
Violent crime is largely a function of poverty, poverty is largely a function of government policy, government policy is the responsibility of everyone, and as poverty and education policy fail, they do the most damage to historically disadvantaged groups – Black people and other racial minorities. Yet the failure of those policies cannot yet be discussed officially or in polite society in Connecticut.
Connecticut cannot yet acknowledge that government invites disaster when it tells people it will keep subsidizing them with cash, food, housing, medical insurance, and other things no matter how many children they have outside marriage, leaving them fatherless and thus far more likely to be neglected or abused and stuck in poverty for life.
Connecticut cannot yet acknowledge that government also invites disaster when it tells students that they need not learn a thing in school to be promoted from grade to grade through 12 years, nor learn a thing to be admitted to something the government calls a public college or university and have to take remedial courses there.
Connecticut cannot yet acknowledge that dumping young people uneducated and unskilled into a world where manual labor is of diminishing value is a catastrophe and abomination.
But that is policy in Connecticut, so in this sense most of New Haven's murders – and Hartford's and Bridgeport's – are policy, too.
Flawed as they sometimes are, the police, as Kimber said, are not the ones killing most Black people in the cities. The police are just the most convenient distraction from the failure of poverty and education policy, so Connecticut has been able to acknowledge and even exaggerate their failings. The ranks of the police are much smaller than the ranks of the educators, social workers, policymakers, and apparatchiks whose faulty work product eventually lands on the police.
As long as the police can be blamed, the others won't be.
But while he may not have meant to, Kimber now has struck a blow against this racket. He has inadvertently invited the loony political left, which runs New Haven and state government, to consider causes of the oppression of Black people other than the police – causes like a racism that is far more "systemic" than anything yet being examined, because it is devised, implemented by, and profiting the political left itself.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.