LETTERS: On Snitching


Monday, November 9, 2015 || LETTERS || Mary Morris 

Why cooperating with the police isn’t the same as snitching

The dictionary definition of the word ‘Snitch’ —  verb, “To steal something of little or no value. To turn informer. Origin unknown.”

Now, let us begin a historical review of the word snitching. Imagine the year is 1855.  The slave master sent three male slaves to work in the cotton fields of a neighboring plantation.  As they walked across the master’s fields, they saw several peach trees. They decided to try the fruit. The peaches were sweet and juicy. They took time to fill their nearly empty stomachs with the delicious fruit. That evening, as they returned to their slave quarters, they took some peaches back to their families.

A slave named Jobo met the master on his way back to his shack. The slave master questioned him about the bulge around his belly and the peaches sticking out of his pockets. He nervously confessed to being hungry and eating the peaches. After an intense interrogation by the slave master, Jobo gave the names of the other two slaves. The master told him to go on home and keep the peaches.

That night, the overseer rounded up the other two slaves who had taken peaches. One slave was strapped to a whipping post and the other slave tied to a tree. Next, they rang a bell signaling the slaves to drop what they were doing and witness the punishment of fifty lashes for stealing food from the master. The slave captives cringed as each lash of the whip ripped the skins of their brothers. As they huddled together, the slaves whispered, “Jobo snitched! Stay away from Jobo, he snitched!” Their anger raged against Jobo. If two or more slaves violated a plantation rule and one turned informant, he earned the title “snitch.” Jobo betrayed his loyalty to this fragile African family. Jobo was a snitch!

Snitching versus reporting 

Now let us review snitching 160 years later. Headlines in a major urban newspaper read: 54 shot — 12 dead during the last 48 hours. The police labeled most of the shootings as gang-related. The police superintendent stated, “The code of silence is strong. People do not want the label of snitch. As a result, it is difficult to get reliable witnesses.”

Some witnesses are hesitant to provide information for fear of retaliation. This is understandable. However, there are ways in which the identity of the witness can be protected. For example, there are anonymous tip hotlines, community organizations and neighborhood watch groups. Some radio and television personalities are skilled at getting accurate information to the authorities to bring the accused to justice.

In summary, a person can only be a “snitch” if they were helping to commit a crime and later decide to become an informer. If you see a crime being committed, you are a witness not a snitch. A witness has a responsibility to come forward and give a detail account of what they saw.

It is time to stop being loyal to those who steal, rape, murder and shed innocent blood in the African American community. The day is over for hiding behind our ancestors’ historical word of “snitch.” That word was used to teach black people to stick together during the 246 years of brutal human bondage in the United States of America.

Dr. Bobby Wright, the brilliant Black psychologist, referred to blacks who heap trauma on their own people as foot soldiers of white supremacy!

The Bible says in Galatians 6:7, ‘Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.

A man reaps what he sows.’ VFP

Mary Morris is the author of Young Lions: Challenged to Live Free and a Maywood resident.

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