It's Time for a 'Sister Souljah' moment

In the wake of the crime and violence that has hit the community this year, I truly believe it is high time for Indianapolis’ Black community to have what I call a “Sister Souljah” moment. 

You might recall that Sister Souljah was a minor rap “artist” who achieved national fame when she told the Washington Post regarding the 1992 Los Angeles riots that, “If Black people kill Black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?” Then Democratic President Bill Clinton took Sister Souljah to task as well as Jesse Jackson for letting her be on the board of the Rainbow Coalition. When he addressed the Rainbow Coalition, Clinton said, “If you took the words ‘white’ and ‘black,’ and you reversed them, you might think David Duke was giving that speech.”

Thus the creation of the “Sister Souljah” moment. The moment is defined as a politician’s “public repudiation of an extremist person or group, statement, or position perceived to have some association with the politician or the politician’s party.” John McCain did it in 2000 when he criticized Jerry Falwell and President Barack Obama did it when he called out Rev. Jeremiah Wright. It’s time for Indy’s Black community to do the same.

I came to this conclusion while reviewing early comments of the family of Major Davis Jr. He has been charged in the murder of Officer Perry Renn during a July 5 shootout. Davis’ family has come across as bipolar in their reaction. One day they’re saying Officer Renn should have stayed in his car. Next they’re saying he was doing his job. Regardless, there is an undercurrent in the Black community that looks at Davis Jr. as a hero fighting against urban oppression.

While those folks are living proof that we don’t spend enough money on mental health care in this country, I do think the Black community needs to be more aggressive with crime and violence. 

For example, instead of making excuses for criminals and socially unacceptable behavior, it’s time to start putting the smack down on some folks. Instead of looking at curfews as a way to harass Black youth, look at it as a way to keep them off the streets. Instead of looking at tougher sentences as a way to incarcerate Black men in the “prison-industrial complex,” view it as getting violent criminals off the street.

One way to do that is to cooperate with law enforcement. There is something wrong when a person is shot in front of 20 people and no one saw anything when the cops show up.

Second, how about we act like parents, instead of baby’s mamas and daddies! If you have children, take responsibility for them. It is not the city’s job to raise your children, it’s yours. And don’t be afraid to discipline them. If you don’t, we’ll have to later.

Third, demand the judicial system make some adjustments as to how it does business. There is something wrong when 90 percent of the murder suspects have a prior felony. That means someone either isn’t being charged or sentenced how they should be.

Finally, encourage lawmakers to pass mandatory-minimum sentencing. If you brandish or use a weapon in the commission of a violent crime or sexual assault then you need to go to jail. Why should urban terrorists be allowed to run wild and good people are afraid to come out of their own homes?

Black community, it’s time for a “Sister Souljah” moment. Now, who’s willing to step up?

Abdul-Hakim Shabazz is an attorney, political commentator and publisher of You can email comments to him at