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?

As Hamilton Nolan put it at Gawker,

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?


Photo Credit: thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Jose L.
Jose L.4 years ago

Rolf P, it's complex and I partly agree with your thrust, but many times these guns are imported to these areas from areas where they can be bought much more easily. Fact is that where many people congregate and do business, you are more likely to see many activities in greater numbers, including gun deaths. This is a local issue, but requires some federal coordination (i.e, intra-state coordination).

ROLF P4 years ago

People are tired of BAND-AID fixes, it's your own Anti Gun Agenda that has left these issues behind. Your ever so infringing laws on the Law Abiding Citizens are not working in the real world, just look at where these shootings are taking place, GUN FREE ZONES (i.e. States with the most Gun restricting laws out there) and you just keep preaching your agenda that clearly is not working. The more you keep talking, less and less people will be listening because they can see over and over again that you are bunch of liars.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill4 years ago

Talking about it is the first step to fixing a problem.

june t.
june t4 years ago

never thought of it before...

Camille S.
Camille Smith4 years ago

Well I think this article bring up a very good point. Acts of terrorism may kill a large number of people at once but I can count on one hand the acts of terrorism that immediately come to mind in my life time, while victims of gang violence, domestic violence, rape, and random acts of violence die every day and as the writers numbers show, more people have died by gun violence since Newtown than all who perished in 9-11...why doesn't the media or anyone recognize this as great a threat as terrorism? My opinion is that the reason for black on black crime or crime perpetrated by impoverished people traces back to a system of learned helplessness and a dependence on the system which keeps the impoverished oppressed, as well as a lack of resources and parent involvement in childrens education, and glorification in pop culture of selling drugs, objectifying women, and a rejection of the white American dream in exchange for ”keeping it real”....of course this is not a true representation of a very diverse black America and I'm not attempting to make sweeping statements that all black or poor people aren't involved in their childrens education, because that is of course untrue...but there is a prevailing attitude that exists that you are selling out your roots when you seek to rise up from a life of poverty or one that will inevitably end in criminal behavior. It is very real and very sad that instead of pouring money into researching why there is so much violence and lac

jackie r.
Jackie R4 years ago

A side note:
Muslim terrorism is constantly swept under the rug and painted with other crap. Tell it like it is. Islam does not belong in the west. End of story.

jackie r.
Jackie R4 years ago

The reason it was not overly reported is probably two fold: reporting would be regarded as 'racist' and secondly, because deep down the rest of the nationalities of the world expect the black people to be prone to violence.

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra4 years ago

Thank you Judy, for Sharing this!

Will Rogers
Will Rogers4 years ago

We heard about this in England, but it was reported as just another typical american gun crime, which is what it was.
Whites are killed by whites mostly, and when a polish person gets murdered, police look within the polish community...as they do with indians and Chinese etc. Imagine if every white on white crime was reported as that. You know? School massacres by whites on white schools, that cinema freak shooting whites, white rapists targeting blonde women. Whites robbing whites...I thought the phrase 'Black on black crime' was shot down ten years ago when it was exposed as a 'stock phrase' used by racists?