Close your eyes. Picture Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. We all have an image in our minds of innocent, white children in a quiet, middle class suburb being suddenly, and horrifically exposed to gun violence. Now close your eyes again. Picture the same scene, but this time the children are black. What do you imagine our national reaction would be to this tragedy?
Now close your eyes again and picture 20 black children who have been exposed to gun violence all their lives being killed one by one in the cross-fire of all-too-familiar neighborhood violence in an inner-city setting over the course of three days. What do you imagine our national reaction would be? Wait. We know what our national reaction would be, because this scene, like the first scene in Newtown, has actually happened. It is happening right now, to approximately one child or teen EVERY THREE HOURS. That means a Newtown EVERY 3 DAYS in America!
So what is our national reaction? Our national reaction is nothing. No media frenzy, no demands for better security, for arming principals, no calls for tighter gun control, no focus on mental health access, no conclusions that the world is a dangerous and cruel place, no tears from our half-black president, no frenzy of blogs, no discussions on listservs, no terrified white parents trembling as they drop their children off at school, no mental health professionals scurrying to assist grieving parents in explaining these events, no discussion of post-traumatic stress.