Why Is Black-On-Black Violence Considered Unworthy Of Our Attention?
Last Sunday, Mother’s Day, New Orleans experienced a shooting in broad daylight when gunmen opened fire on a largely-black parade, leaving 19 people injured. Ten adult men, seven adult women, a 10-year-old boy and a 10-year-old girl were struck by bullets. Of the 19 shot, three remain in critical condition.
Did you read about this incident?
Probably not, since it was barely covered by the media, being relegated to a six-paragraph AP story at the bottom corner of A11 in the The New York Times.
Strictly An Act Of Street Violence In New Orleans
Shortly after the bodies were cleared, the FBI said they “have no indication the shooting was an act of terrorism. ‘Itís strictly an act of street violence in New Orleans.’” Well, thank you for that. I’m sure that’s helpful to the victims of that violence.
In recent months, the nation has been shocked by mass shootings in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut and Boston, where most of the victims have been white and suburban. President Obama and Vice President Biden have taken the lead in demanding that the United States think seriously about gun violence, mental health and gun safety. I applaud them for that, and I find it despicable that the weak-willed Senate couldn’t even agree that background checks are important.
But could it be that black-on-black violence just doesn’t stir the kind of collective emotions that result from Americans killed by Muslims, or crazy gunmen shooting in white suburbia?
In America, all villainy is not created equal.
As a rule, the rare violence committed by Muslims, with some political or religious motivation, is ‘terrorism,’ and deserving of the attention of the public and of our stern-faced leaders. The far more common and destructive acts of violence committed every single day on the streets of America due to poverty and the drug war and lack of education and simple human viciousness are ‘street violence,’ which is treated as some timeless aspect of the human condition. This violence, which kills many more Americans each year than any Muslim terrorist could dream of, is unworthy of our brain space.
Over 4,000 Deaths By Shooting In U.S. Since Newtown
By the middle of April, there had been over 4,000 deaths by shooting in the U.S. since the tragic events at Newtown, many of those being victims of the violence that happens every day on the streets of New Orleans, Chicago, Philadelphia and Oakland.
Blacks shooting blacks, whether it’s 19 people shot in New Orleans, or 12 people shot at a Baltimore cookout, or 54 people shot in a single weekend in Chicago, rarely rate a mention in the national media.
This brings to mind how the Iraq war has been often reported: American deaths in Iraq number 4488, but there’s no mention of the total death toll which stands at a staggering 114,000. Americans are deemed more important that Iraqis, just as white people deserve more coverage than African-Americans.
In the same way, in the history textbooks I grew up with, there was rarely a mention of a woman, unless she was a queen or a criminal.
New Orleans Blogger Against Violence Is One Of The Victims
Ironically, one of the 19 shot was Deborah Cotton, a writer for Gambit Weekly, also known as the blogger Big Red Cotton, who writes frequently about the issue of violence in New Orleans. Here’s how she responded to the murder of a woman three years ago at a second-line parade:
The unfortunate murder that occurred on Sunday is not symptomatic of second line culture. On the contrary, itís directly attributable to deep social ills that New Orleans has yet to get a firm grasp on: a broken criminal justice system that allows murderers to get off easily and maintains bad cops which in turn undermines residentsí faith in cooperating with authorities; a broken education system that leaves citizens unable to function as adults in the professional world; and an economy based on two sectors that thwart ambition and opportunities ó tourism and government.
Thankfully, Cotton was reported to be in stable but guarded condition after undergoing surgery.
Journalism has the important function within a democracy to report the truth. When are we going to stop this blatant media manipulation? Maybe not any time soon, with Rupert Murdoch and the Koch Brothers vying for ownership of the Tribune newspapers.
What do you think?
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