Read that subtitle again and let it sink in. When a black child under the age of 18 dies, they are more likely to die from injuries due to gun violence than accidental injuries (such as car accidents, falling, etc.), illness, or other tragic circumstances. Does this fact anger you? It is unacceptable for children in any country, let alone a developed country such as the US, to be dying as a result of violence. Where is the media attention? Tragedies such as the school shootings at Columbine High School, Sandy Hook Elementary School, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High dominate media and public attention, but these events are not nearly as common as the all-too-common gun violence affecting African-American communities.
People who are African-American make up 13% of the nation's population, yet their children die from gun violence at greater rates than children of other races. Historically, people of color have been perceived as less victim-worthy than those who are white. In fact, a person who kills a white victim is more likely to receive the death penalty than a person whose victim is a person of color. What does this say about how our society views people of color? Have you heard of laws that start with the victim's name- such as Marsy's Law or the more famous AMBER alert? According to an article by Teresa C. Kulig and Francis T. Cullen, 86.3% of these laws are named in memory of white victims of crime. Why are hardly any of these laws named after black victims of crime?
So why does it matter? It matters because the media is not depicting the realities of homicide. It sends the message that the white children who die in schools are more newsworthy and victim-worthy than the black children who die in their communities far more often across our country. It matters because it is a public health crisis. According to Everytown Research, black children are ten times more likely than white children to be hospitalized due to firearm injuries. If the number one leading cause of death was a preventable disease would there be the same amount of attention? Homicide and gun violence are preventable; we need better policy in place to create safer communities for all of us. While policy targeting school shootings is very important, we also need to tackle this much more pressing and prevalent issue. Racism is still, unfortunately, very much alive in this country. Racism is why there is not the same level of outrage for the murders of black children as there is for the murders of white children. We need to take a hard look at how our current policy is impacting these communities and how we can address this issue.