When news began to flash across the airways Friday, December 14, that a tragedy was taking place in Newtown, CT, the magnitude and the heartbreak of this violent and insane action began to sink in. Twenty of the 26 lost lives were six- and seven-year-old children dying from multiple gun shots from an assault/combat rifle.
This incident caused me to pause and relook at what to write for this end-of-year/looking-forward-to-the-future column, especially in terms of the tragedies in Minneapolis’ African American communities in terms of education, jobs, housing and getting caught holding the bag to pay for a stadium neither the state nor city can afford.
In terms of school shootings, we remember Virginia Tech; Minnesota’s Red Lake Indian Reservation; Springfield, OR; Columbine, CO; Jonesboro, AR; Blacksburg, VA.; and 1927 Michigan: 45 killed, mostly children. Recent school killings have also been in Norway; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Sana’a, Yemen. Fifteen hundred children die in America yearly from abuse and neglect, over 3,000 a year in gun-related deaths, and more than 1,000 killed in auto crashes, not to mention the “death at an early age” mentally of millions of students due to bad schools.
Even though rifle-bearing cowards will be judged by a force more powerful than any of us, we are still left with the difficult task of explaining to parents the deaths of their six- and seven-year-olds. In the meantime, the “don’t let a crisis go unexploited” politics unfolds, as right and left square off to discuss gun control and assault/combat rifles, mental health, the NRA, gun registration and who should or should not be armed.
The trauma, murder and mayhem of these events and debates will fade in memory. Then, back to business as usual. America, as tribes and nations before it throughout recorded history, carved out and supported doctrines of “by any means necessary,” including taking of land from indigenous people (a history shared by all around the world, including those who did the same to those they in turn had conquered). It is a doctrine of supremacy by force of arms to hold what is assumed an inalienable right of might rather than a shared right of all.
Once again, it will be extremely
difficult for an honest consensus-
building discussion on the use of
guns and violence in America.
As President Barack Obama pointed out in a memorial service Sunday evening in Newtown, CT, assault/combat rifle availability and the mentally ill minds who believe this to be an acceptable rite of passage must be dealt with. Once again, it will be extremely difficult for an honest consensus-building discussion on the use of guns and violence in America.
Parents in Chicago this past summer felt the same sense of frustration, anger and heartbreak as their children died on Chicago streets, as in other highly populated African American cities, though not well covered in the media. We need serious dialogue from those fighting for and against the right to be armed.
It is no accident that United States senators — Democrats and Republicans — were slow to speak out or appear on television-interview programs to defend their doctrine of the right to bear arms at any cost. So just how committed is the nation to seek a solution?
In many cities and hamlets there are those who have lost a loved one to violence in America, who, for decades, have sought serious discussions. Will contemporary school shootings join the gun battles of the Old West and Prohibition as appropriate for new acts of violence, or be dealt with?
Tragedies? The real tragedies on the national level are the 25 percent Black unemployment (50 percent among Black youth), 50 percent Black high school dropout rates, and inner-city substandard housing, as they are reflections of national policies compounded by local ones.
We would like to see an emphasis on the greater tragedies of the failure to deal effectively with education, jobs, and housing for African Americans, at the root of which is the state and city refusing to comply with known laws that could help prevent tragedies like shootings. We invite the reader to consider the columns and solution papers on our website, www.TheMinneapolisStory.com, as pathways to dealing with the tragedies of Minneapolis: failing to provide the best in education, jobs, and housing for African Americans, including the added tragedy of letting the “people’s stadium” funding prevent social stabilization and fairness for the people by diverting dollars away from education, jobs and housing, which we’ll address over the coming year.
Ron Edwards hosts “Black Focus” on Channel 17, MTN-TV, Sundays, 5-6 pm, and hosts Blog Talk Radio’s “Black Focus V” on Sundays, 3-3:30 pm and Thursdays, 7-8:30 pm, providing coverage about Black Minnesota. Order his books at www.BeaconOnTheHill.com. Hear his readings and read his columns, blog, and solution papers for community planning and development, at www.TheMinneapolisStory.com. Columns are archived at www.theminneapolisstory.com/tocarchives.htm.