During the past 40 years that I have been involved in the gun violence prevention movement, I have witnessed many things that have perplexed me. Not the least of these is the way our media treat some victims of gun violence.
Imagine this scene: Your family is in a crowd of people hanging out with friends and family at a neighborhood park at night on a holiday. Suddenly, the crowd is sprayed with gun fire. Six adolescents between the ages of 13 and 18 receive gunshot wounds to the chest, thigh, torso, abdomen, and foot. One child is even grazed on the forehead by a bullet.
Now picture these children as African-American.
Is your horror the same? It should be. In fact, this exact scene played out on May 26 and the mainstream media did not even report on it. Yet they somehow found the time to keep us abreast of the latest Hollywood gossip.
I venture to say that had these teens, these children, been white, this would have been headline news. Every major news outlet, AP reporter, and weekly magazine would have descended on the crime scene and reported on every single second of this tragedy.
Have we really become desensitized to the fact that young black men and women are being gunned down daily in their neighborhoods? Is this now an accepted norm, business as usual in a self-obsessed nation?
So I am asking the media, and the American public, to make all gun-related injuries and deaths a national priority. The day we start seeing any child affected by gun violence as one of our own-as an integral and precious part of our national fabric-is the day we can start taking a serious stand on the easy access that youth have to guns in America.
The alternative-to remain complacent and embrace an everyone-for-him/herself mentality-is too terrible to contemplate.