Image Credits: http://www.newblackmaninexile.net/2010/06/gun-violence-and-american-masculinity.html.
By Jay Pade, Contributor
Even as student protests have taken to the streets to fuel the fires of the very heated gun debate, shedding light on the deaths of their fellow students across the nation, very little light has been shed on the even darker side of gun violence.
Indeed, a grand majority of the school shootings that have been the focus of the protesters have been in the suburbs of America, which as one might guess is primarily inhabited by Caucasian Americans. Reform and information are crucial in unbiased progress in the American legal system.
For the most part, American inner cities are primarily inhabited by African-Americans. Somewhat surprisingly to some anti-gun protesters, they also have much higher rates of actual gun violence and thus would warrant a more substantial reason for legislation.
Whether it is about the gun violence being police killings or the criminal activities occurring in our cities, these protesters fail to mention this issue despite it being just as prevalent or more prevalent as school shootings. This isn’t to even suggest the monstrous idea that student lives don’t matter, but that the youth across the entire nation matter regardless of where they live or their skin color.
This is not to state that this ignorance is purposeful and thus racially motivated, but instead that whether it is or not is irrelevant. What is relevant is that statistics do indicate that gun violence consistently kills African-Americans and urban dwellers than the sporadic shootings that have been occurring throughout the US.
To be clear, this isn’t to say protesters are wrong to march for gun control. Firearm legislation is necessary due to the fact that 82% of firearm-related homicides worldwide happen in the US. A vast majority of this is in our inner cities, ignored by the media until of course, it becomes a problem that affects people who don’t live in the city, predominantly Caucasians.
America has been content to ignore the fact that while cites contain 1/10 of the U.S population, they contain 20% of all American gun violence. In 2015 alone, over 80% of Homicides were in urban centers. According to the CDC, African-Americans are about 13% of the population yet are about eight times more likely to die from gun violence in American cities than a Caucasian American.
But wait, there’s more! Oddly enough, the rate of death by homicide has a vast disparity between Caucasians in every single one of the 50 states. In 2015, an African-American was more than 25 times more likely die in Wisconsin than a Caucasian American while in Arizona it was about 3 times more likely.
It’s interesting and perhaps important to note that these gun homicide disparities can also be linked to the massive incarceration and unemployment racial disparities within Wisconsin seem to correlate with racial disparities in homicide. While the average American is more than 120 times more likely to die from firearm violence than an act of terrorism, an African-American in an urban area is more than 450 times more likely to die from gun violence, again according to the CDC.
It is apparent that America has a gun problem. What has not been made apparent was that America has had a gun problem, yet liberal activists have been seemingly oblivious until it became an issue to Caucasian Americans in the suburbs. This is critical because in this gun debate as in any other , reasons for protests provide or deny credibility as in any movement.
If protesters are to have credibility they need to address all victims. When protesters ignore more than half the demographic of gun violence victims, they lose credibility and the opportunity to unite and reach out to the African-American communities that have been dealing with this issue for decades.
To march for Parkland, for Columbine, for Sandy Hook, is an incredibly well justified cause. But it is ignorant to not also march for Chicago, where gun violence is so bad it has earned the nickname “Chiraq”. To not also march for Detroit or New Orleans is ignorant when the gun violence rate is 46.9 per 100,000 and 45.0 per 100,000 respectively, which is 3 times more likely than Chicago, sitting at 16.4 per 100,000.
Gun violence isn’t an issue that should divide us by race or location. Bullets don’t discriminate between targets. People do. This is where being an informed, connected generation truly comes into play when discussing gun reform.
It is almost impossible to have a conclusive answer for reform to satisfy everyone. However, the most important thing is to try to unify. That means being informed enough to be able to answer questions when asked “why”. That means not ignoring police gun violence. It means not ignoring the massive homicide rates in our cities. It means acknowledging that yes, black lives do matter. Most importantly, it means change.