As gun control talks fill the air, Americans must not forget that gun violence did not begin, and will not end in Newtown, CT. Tragedies like the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School are able to capture the attention of Washington and the media not only because of their scale, but because of their ability to penetrate the sphere of white privilege. During his Smiley & West radio show, Dr. Cornel West spoke on the disparity of media coverage and lack of gun control discussion when it comes to violence against minorities.
“We can’t just shed tears for those on the vanilla side of town. They are precious, but they are no less or more precious than our poor brothers and sisters on Indian reservations (who are killing each other) or be they black or brown or what have you,” West said.
“But it’s a good thing that we now have a discussion on gun control. We need one on drone control,” he continued, “not a peep, not a mumbling word when black folk get shot. But now, Newtown, Connecticut, vanilla side — low and behold we got a major conversation. That’s wonderful. Each life is precious but it just upsets me when we’re so deferential.”
Innocent African-Americans have been the target of equally unjust violence involving guns, in greater numbers than their white counterparts. Chicago, a city that President Barack Obama has called home for some time, has been under constant siege from increasing violence in recent years, having seen 700 children shot in 2010.
Incidents like the death of Trayvon Martin earlier in the year are as much rooted in gun control law as they are in racial issues. Despite making up only 15 percent of America’s child population, black children accounted for 45 percent of the gun fatalities in 2009 and 2010, according to a report from the Children’s Defense Fund.
Of course, gun control talks in any capacity will help curb violence against blacks and the rest of America’s demographics, but it is unfortunate that those discussions only seem to occur when a certain image of America is challenged.