It’s called the “Knockout Game,” a violent and deadly amusement for teenagers who identify an unsuspecting victim and deliver a cold-hearted sucker punch that is so forceful, it renders the person unconscious.
As a black man, I am horrified, saddened and angry.
Police say this deeply troubling trend that so far seems to be linked mostly to young black men is spreading to many cities including Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York, St. Louis, and Pittsburgh.
During the game, the young men take turns until one of them knocks the victim unconscious. There have been at least three reported deaths within the last two years from this deadly activity – and police say the game is becoming more popular, especially in black communities across the country.
Reports of these assaults have increased in recent weeks and the black teens who participate in this sick, violent game are putting their futures at risk, and their victims are turning up in hospital beds and morgues.
So what’s the purpose of the “Knockout Game?”
“For the fun of it,” one teen explains, according to the CBS station in Washington, D.C.
“They just want to see if you got enough strength to knock somebody out,” another teenager said.
We’re losing too many young black men to an insane sub-culture that glorifies violence; we’re watching their self-destruction play out on the streets of America every day and, sadly, some of us could become victims of this dangerous activity that our young people call a “game.”
We can’t blame the “Knockout Game” on racism. This has nothing to do with racial profiling. It has nothing to do with Republicans or the Tea Party. It has nothing to do with white supremacists. It has nothing to do with “stand your ground” laws. This is about an evil that has taken hold of some of our young black men, our sons, our children, and we are fighting for their souls.
“This is the only thing they have to do with their lives?” my father-in-law asked with exasperation.
Black Americans should be as collectively outraged by the “Knockout Game,” as we were about Trayvon Martin’s death.
A few months ago, a 13-year-old and a 14-year-old were charged with murdering a New Jersey homeless man during the “Knockout Game.” This summer, Elex Murphy, a young black man, was sentenced to 55 years in prison for killing a 72-year-old businessman during the game. And last week, a 27-year-old victim walking in Washington, D.C. was punched in the head when a group of about eight men on bikes rode up behind her.
Some social science experts blame this vicious culture on the proliferation of violent video games; others suggest that bad parenting is responsible as well as poverty and budget cuts for after-school programs. And some faith leaders say many of our young black men need God in their lives.
The “Knockout Game” reminds me of those urban legend stories I heard growing up in Detroit when black gangs reportedly performed a deadly initiation ritual where they would drive around the city at night with their headlights off and when conscientious and unsuspecting motorists would flash their headlights to alert the driver, the gang members would follow those motorists – and kill them. So is history repeating itself?
Today, while watching real-life CBS video footage of the “Knockout Game,” I was stuck by the callousness of six young black men who celebrated knocking a man to the ground and leaving him lying on the pavement unconscious, without a second thought.
They took pride in the punch as they walked away. There is an emotional disconnect – sort of a numbness — among some of our young black men that is extremely disturbing.
They just don’t care.
Just so you know, this horrific game also goes by the name ‘Knockout King’ and ‘Pick ‘Em Out and Knock ‘Em Down.’ And police suggest that people stay vigilant while walking the streets.
I don’t have all the answers for why so many of our young black men are self-destructing at such a rapid pace. I only know that black
America needs to take ownership of this problem — and figure it out — before it’s too late.
What do you think?