Current Events

National Tragedies and People of Color, where do we fit in?

My heart broke as I watched scenes of small children running from Sandy Hook Elementary. The idea that a human being can make up in one’s mind to massacre other human beings, let alone children, is a concept that will never make sense. The recent bombings that took place during the Boston marathon are yet another example of the random and senseless acts of violence piercing this country. But as people across America poured out thoughts of sympathy, concern and sorrow, and anger, I started to wonder, where is this same outrage for children of color who also die needlessly almost every day?

Chicago was placed on the national stage when we learned of fifteen year-old honor student, Hadiya Pendleton’s tragic death just two weeks after her performance at the inauguration. The nation mourned with her parents, but we soon moved on. The fact of the matter is that Hadiya’s death is not an anomaly, but the norm in a city riddled with crime and gangs.

The 2010 census reported 1,645,993 blacks living in Chicago. In 2012, 508 homicides were reported in the city. Of these homicides, eighty percent of the victims were black.  So far in 2013, there have been slightly over 100 homicides reported. Children – babies – (and adults) are needlessly dying, but where is the public outrage over these lives lost. Isn’t a black child’s life just as valuable as that of a white child’s?

I’m sure the Aurora, Colorado shootings are still fresh in many of our minds. For my fellow San Diegans, we’ve been privy to media coverage of the trial, being that the perpetrator is from San Diego. The lives lost in Aurora were devastating. But many of us may not remember the tragic shootings that occurred in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

Two weeks prior to the Aurora shootings, a Sikh temple in Wisconsin was ravaged by a white supremacist who killed six worshippers and left four others injured before taking his own life. The national media seemed to graze over these individuals who lost their lives with a scarcity of coverage. This is in no way stating that shootings done by extremists and supremacists hold more importance than those that are not.  But all lives should be treated equally.

Here, San Diego County logged 110 homicides in 2012, and 2013 is on track to outpace 2012’s numbers. Granted, San Diego’s statistics pale in comparison to those of Chicago, but there is cause for alarm.

The tragedies in Newtown, Connecticut and Aurora have sparked a widespread, bitter debate over gun control and legislation in this country. Measures clearly need to be taken, but only after the horrible massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary did the general population rise and press Congress towards action. People are dying and have died daily in cities like Chicago for a number of years, yet society has been relatively silent in mourning (or lack thereof) and issues of gun control.

Every life holds equal value. The Declaration of Independence so eloquently states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” We have a responsibility and a duty to continue to stand on principles of equality – in representation of life and the loss thereof.

 Information from the Census Bureau and Crime in Chicago 2013 was used in this article.

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