I know the Connecticut school shooting is indeed a tragedy in America. As such we should mourn the lost of those killed in yet another mass murder, especially the little children. However, there are a few things you need to understand because the way the conversation’s been carried out is disturbing, yet predictable. It’s time you ask a few things. Don’t take this as a letter of disrespect, but a letter of lessons that must be learned.
This latest incident is not, by any means, isolated. Mass shootings have been occurring in America for years, and the previous summer of 2012 has shown that it’s in overdrive. We’ve seen shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and a huge spike in murders in Chicago, just to name a few instances of gun violence.
The violence that erupted at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut is not unique. There have been school shootings going on not just in America, but all over the world. This reminds of the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings and the many other school massacres in between and the numerous school shootings that happened before and after the two noted incidents.
I hope I don’t have to remind you of other examples of violence, the ones that local news outlets report. I’m referring to violence that occurs among people of color (POC). We all know that those stories are spun up and highlighted way more often than any other stories about POC, particularly their accomplishments and community services. And I bet that this is one of the important reasons why the folks who are grieving over the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting could care less about the lives of black and brown youth dying at high rates.
I’m also willing to bet dollars to donuts that those same people don’t give a damn about children being killed by military drones, missiles and yes, gun in nations like Pakistan and Yemen. President Obama is one such person.
Lastly, we must realize that most of the school shootings in this nation alone are caused by men – white men. Yet, whenever any form of violence caused by white males are reported, the first thing that is searched is the perpetrator’s mental health history. This isn’t to say that mental health shouldn’t be examined, but that same call to reasoning is never used for men of color. Thus, we never ask how masculinity is also a factor.
So, why is it the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre are given national sympathy as opposed to children struggling to live in America’s poor and urban communities plagued by institutionalize violence which helps spawn physical violence and children bombed and shot indiscriminately by American forces? Why are the lives of some children matter more than others?
Also, why is it that society constantly dismiss such massacres as being the fault of mentality cracked individual white males? Why are white men always given excuses as to their violence no matter how often it happens while men of color who engage in violence are seen as part of their character? Why can’t we have a serious conversation on manhood, gun control and violence?
Why must the news media treat such violence as perfect opportunities for high ratings? Why do we gravitate toward such stories even when we know that if we were in the mix, we would be terrified and traumatized (That is, if we survive)?
There are so many questions that deserve answers and solutions. I know some of you already feel insulted in some way. Don’t think of this as some attack on your personal integrity, but instead, just think.
Violence and murder, especially gun violence, can occur anywhere at anytime. Remember, the mother of the Newtown shooter owned and stockpiled guns knowingly while her son was mentally ill because she was ‘preparing for a disaster’. They all lived in the suburbs outside the town, not in a poor community plagued with violence and murders. Still, something snapped in that young man and he was surrounded by tools of destruction. It was a recipe for disaster that ultimately took the life of his mother, the lives of the school children and his own life.
While the media continues to dig up any and all things to try to simplify this tragedy, the truth is that it is anything but simple. There are so many factors that set off the massacre and the reactions behind it. The community will still try to make sense of all this while ignoring the truth that we live in a violent society.
Violence is not determined by your socioeconomic status alone. It is not predetermined by skin color or religious faith. It is not simply of matter of mental illness. And it should not be a commodity for media execs to use to drive people to their TV sets. It is a human problem that society must examine. It must take a look at itself to answer and resolve these issues. It must ask hard questions and see all of it’s ugly flaws and pathologies, or else the problem will continue.