Right-Wing blogs are claiming that we don’t care when black people kill other black people. I think we care, but we just don’t know what to do about it.
There were two mass shootings last week. Chances are you heard about one. A man with a gun killed 12 people and himself at a Washington D.C. Navy Yard. The media, Facebook, Twitter, and every water cooler in America were in a frenzy, trying to figure out what the hell brings someone to such barbarity. I’ve seen video games mentioned, along with gun culture, PTSD, mental disease or defect, and a few more ridiculous suggestions. We want to know why someone does these things for a few reasons: we want to know how the hell to stop it. We want to know how the hell to avoid it. Lastly, plain old morbid curiosity.
The other shooting, which you may or may not have heard about, was a shooting at a basketball court on the South Side of Chicago (known for years as “the baddest part of town”). This shooting resulted in 13 victims injured but no deaths. One of the injured is a three-year old boy who was shot in the face. Three. Years. Old.
The Right-Wing Attack Machine has rolled onto this subject with the usual finger-pointing and obfuscating. The standard line is that liberals in the United States ignore the killing of blacks (did I mention the victims are black? Did you assume?). According to the Right-Wing Attack Machine, liberals ignore these killings because they don’t fit some kind of agenda designed to “take our guns away.”
Well, being someone who is liberal and very personally invested in reducing the killing of black males, I disagree. Here’s why:
1) The media is full of stories about this shooting. A large amount of these stories are about the fact there are no stories about this. (Don’t think about that too long, you might hurt your head.)
2) We understand it. We know what makes young black males in poor socioeconomic situations into violent predators. We know about the twisted sense of pride trained into them, the idea that any slight or perceived disrespect has to be addressed violently. We know about crime in poor areas. We know that crime and poverty breed more crime and more poverty (See: Broken Windows Theory).
3) We don’t know what to do about it. If a random man shoots twelve people because he is mentally ill, then we know that we must address firearms and mental illness. What do we do when a man shoots thirteen people because his entire upbringing has led to it? What do we do when he grows up in an area with a dearth of quality jobs and a lack of male role models? In an area where criminals are more respected than college graduates? Where he’s already treated like a dangerous person just for living there?
I wish the finger-pointing would stop. We don’t need to play a game of oneupmanship, trying to figure out who cares about which murders more. That’s silly and unproductive. No one wants any more tiny coffins; we just don’t know how to stop it.