The Black killing fields must end!

Elinor Tatum
Elinor Tatum

Every day we hear about the murder of more of our children. Every day we see the scenes of grieving mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents and children at funerals around the country, mourning because someone in their family is a victim of another act of senseless violence.
This summer—and certainly one of our discontent—has been particularly bloody. It doesn’t matter if we are talking East Coast, West Coast, central states or down south. Our folks are killing each other in record numbers.
Recently, at the Aspen Institutes Ideas Fest, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu talked about the epidemic of violence and the culture of violence in the country. Landrieu had behind his desk several binders filled with the photos of all the people who have been killed in the past few years as an everyday reminder of the violence that plagues our country.
He said the big idea is we need to stop the murders, especially of YOUNG BLACK MEN, and figure out why this is happening. He continues to say that young men of color are killed at catastrophic rates. “African-American boys feel we have forsaken them,” the mayor continued.
There is so much discussion of gun control, especially every time there is a mass shooting, such as the Newtown, Conn., rampage two years ago and Aurora, Colo., the same year, and numerous others. Rage is seen and heard on the airwaves, on the streets, in the newspapers. But whose rage is it? It is the rage of predominately White middle- to upper-class families who have had a direct loss from the use of legal weapons.
Those incidents happen relatively infrequently but get so much attention.
When young people are killed in our communities, the headlines last for maybe a day or so, and the names of those killed rarely become household names. Sixty people shot one weekend, 24 another. But who were they? These victims, our children and loved ones, don’t seem to matter to the mainstream media. When it is Black on Black crime, it is not “their” problem. But when someone goes on a mass shooting spree, it is all of our problems.
Why do the mass shootings in our communities not matter? Why is it that our children’s lives are worth less than the lives of the children in the suburbs? Why, when a 3-year-old is caught in the crossfire, is the emphasis on getting rid of illegal weapons not taken to a higher level?
We are ignoring the real problems in inner cities. We can combat disease. We try to combat hunger. But we can’t combat the violence, because we are not a priority in that way. The money is not allocated, and the services that are needed to change the culture of violence do not exist.
There are mass murders every day in our communities. Our children are dying. And the powers that be remain relatively silent. Our children have value. Our children deserve a future. It is time to find the answers.Adding to the ever-increasing prison-industrial complex is not the remedy. One step toward ending this dilemma is educating our young people and giving them hope that they can make something of their lives. It is giving them jobs so they have something else to do other than hang out on the streets. It means providing physical and mental health services to combat the mounting number of health crises and PTSD.
There is a way to stop it. We must commit the time, the energy and the necessary resources. Ending the everyday tragedies can’t happen overnight, but it can happen. We know what works. Let’s make it happen, all of us, together, now. If not now, then we are all doomed.
Elinor Tatum is publisher and editor in chief of the New York Amsterdam News.

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