April 24, 2018

Stop Normalizing Gun Violence in Inner Cities

Eva Hale ‘20


What the Parkland kids are doing is incredible. They are creating social change in a way no one before them has effectively done. But Congressmen Donald Payne Jr. said something interesting to me that made me think.
“17 people died in Parkland,” Payne Jr. said. “Well, the same can happen in Newark in two weeks.”
That doesn’t delegitimize the Parkland kids or what happened there. But it does raise the issue that those kids were white and from an affluent community. Gun violence is an issue in inner cities and those shootings don’t get attention, because we have come to expect it.
Thousands of teenagers have died in inner cities for years. These aren’t mass shootings. They don’t happen all at once. They happen every day. They happen again and again and it hasn’t been enough to make us stand up for them and say enough is enough.  
Ron Odom, the father of Steven Odom, who was murdered in Dorchester in 2007 said, “People say, ‘Nothing will happen until it starts happening to white children.’ Well, now it’s happened. What’s the difference between what these children are saying and what our children are saying? But if they’re able to move Congress to some centrist agreement on guns, I’m standing with them. Our children are dying.”
Unlike Odom, Bree Newsome, an African-American activist, feels resentment toward the Parkland movement.
“Black youth are facing a Parkland every day in their lives from all sides,” she said. “The language used in describing the Parkland students completely skips over all of the black youth and student protests that have been happening in recent years.”
The Parkland shooting proved we are all in danger because of how easy it is to get a gun. Not only the inner cities, whom we have forgotten about, whose violence has become normalized. This is an issue that can affect all of us. But we should never have normalized the violence in inner cities in the first place.
I don’t say this to criticize the Parkland survivors. This doesn’t mean school shootings aren’t an issue. It just means that in this renewed push for gun control, we need to hear just as much about kids gunned down in the inner cities as we do about kids gunned down at schools.
This needs to be part of the issue. This issue applies to all of us. It applies to kids in Parkland who witnessed this horrible act of evil. But it also applies to these attacks in inner cities to which we have become inured.

We can’t normalize this, as we as a society have been doing for decades. We can’t ignore the inner city students who have been protesting and speaking out for gun control. We have this cry of outrage for the people who were shot in a wealthy, white, affluent school and that’s a good thing; we should be outraged. But we have no cry of outrage for the people who die day in and day out in America’s inner cities.

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