We’ve experienced heartbreaking mass shooting incidents throughout this year that claimed the lives of far too many unarmed civilians. These now include the Highland Park, Illinois, mass shooting incident that happened on July 4th. Within hours, political social media on both sides were trying to figure out the shooter’s political motivations, as if there needed to be one to commit such a heinous act. Mainstream media was also looking into the shooter’s personal life.
Our political establishment is motivated to find legislative solutions as a result of these mass shooting incidents. The important thing is that these events drive influential people to advocate for solutions to stop them from happening again because they see these kinds of events as abnormal and refuse to normalize them. It doesn’t matter if you agree with their solutions or not.
But not everyone follows this instinct to avoid normalizing gun violence. In actuality, it has already become commonplace in some facets of our society.
The fact that mass shootings frequently occur in poor and underprivileged Black neighborhoods is the proverbial “elephant in the room.” And far too many Americans are content with the situation as long as they aren’t experiencing it firsthand.
After large-scale shootings in American suburbs and small towns, I’ve seen countless television interviews. This isn’t supposed to happen here, seem to say both the interviewees and the subjects of the interviews. Even in a world where danger exists, they are saying this because they value what had been their very high expectation of safety.
Nobody says that about the streets of Philadelphia or the South Side of Chicago. And too many of us have grown accustomed to the implicit belief that it is intended to take place there, if only because it does so frequently.
Should there be a location in America where shootings are expected to occur? is my query to Americans. Have we lowered our standards for Black people’s lives to the point where we’ve accepted their deaths as a normal outcome of racial conflict?
You see this all too frequently, as in the case of the Texas school shooting, which received little coverage because it happened in a Black school, or the shooting in Sacramento, which briefly received attention before the media and political establishment realized it was gang-related. At that point, the narrative quickly changed from the incident being the “abnormal” type of mass shooting to the “acceptable” gang-related violent conflict between Black men.
How is this a good thing?
Because there doesn’t seem to be a practical solution or advancement, I think Americans have become numb to the violence in lower-income Black neighborhoods. We have come to accept certain neighborhoods across the nation as being permanently stagnant in poor results after decades of little to no change.
With this acceptance, we have merely accepted the idea that some American lives are more disposable than others depending on their location, social class, and situation. Lastly, their race.
Six innocent people killed in a suburban mall shooting should be just as disturbing as six innocent people killed in a nightclub shooting in a neighborhood with a majority of Black residents.
Innocent Americans dying in violent ways shouldn’t be a political issue; it should be a human issue.
We shouldn’t allow our tendency to be pessimistic about change in particular jurisdictions in our nation to normalize the negative outcomes of some.
We shouldn’t allow ourselves to think, as we do when watching news reports of a catastrophic event halfway around the world, that the deaths of young, defenseless bystanders are not my problem.
It is an issue for us. It also won’t go away or get any better if you ignore it. I and you both reject the idea that any American is a byproduct of our national pessimism.