by Dr. Boyce Watkins Three people were killed and two injured at a shooting that took place at an off-campus party at Auburn University this weekend. The shootings are believed to have occurred after a fight over a woman. The victims were both former Auburn University football players, Ed Christian and LaDarius Phillips. Residents of the complex are being prevented from entering or leaving the area until police have conducted their investigations. Just this morning, I had a radio conversation with Rev. Jesse Jackson and his son, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. One of the topics of conversation that emerged is the growing gun violence in the African American community. There are far too many guns available in too many scenarios that have turned our communities into instant war zones. Literally 20 minutes before I heard about this shooting, Rev. Jackson recited to me on the phone a slew of statistics related to gun violence, which has absolutely hammered his home city of Chicago. While the Auburn University campus is not necessarily part of the black community, the warzone culture that comes from our cities, glorified via commercialized hip-hop, has made it nearly impossible for black men to enjoy parties without confronting the possibility that they might die that night. At least once every two weeks, I end up writing the same article. The article features a party or gathering at a night club, where black male students get together to have fun. The story ends with a 21 or 22 year old kid on their way to the morgue, and all of their friends mourning over the person’s death, as if we can’t understand how this could ever happen. Perhaps we think that it only happens to other people, or we don’t care enough to take charge of the violence around us, but either way it’s got to stop. For students in college, their parents and those who will be attending college in the future, the message is simple: College is a place to learn, not a place to get shot or drink yourself into oblivion every weekend. It’s not a place to spend your weekends hunting down the next party, or to work overtime to put yourself in bad situations. Typically, crimes like gun violence and date rape are a nasty functional mix between alcohol and big egos, where productive people end up making very bad choices. For those who care about our children, it’s time to start having difficult conversations about gun violence and the holocaust of death that has engulfed the black male experience in America. It’s time to confront the well-paid buffoons of commercialized hip-hop, who deserve creative respect, but must be educated on the consequences of making it cool to kill other black men. We have to deal with congressmen who could care less about black life and help them to understand that we can no longer tolerate the deaths of the sons, fathers and husbands of our community. Finally, it’s time to confront ourselves to become aware and empowered enough to join organizations that are invested in this fight. Your favorite politician may not be doing anything to help solve the problem, but there is likely a group in your community that can use your help. It’s not natural for anyone to die at the age of 20 or 21 years old, but many black men don’t think they are going to live that long. God didn’t intend for us to die young, nor does he intend for us to kill each other. So, perhaps it’s time to wake up, mobilize, stand together and demand that violence in our community be confronted head-on. It’s time to put an end to the madness. Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.