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Please begin with an informative title:

I really don't want to write this but I feel it has to be discussed and if someone has addressed this issue I apologize for missing it.

I think that part of the nation's reaction to Sandy Hook must be looked at thru the lens of Missing White Woman Syndrome. Though the victims weren't white women they were basically perceived in the same way by the public -- white, "safe middle class", "innocent" -- hot buttons in our culture for grief and media angst.

Why do I think this matters? Because on any given day in the US an average of more than 10 African Americans are killed by guns. While it is true that roughly the same number of white Americans are killed given that African Americans are outnumbered 6:1 by whites it would be like 65 white Americans getting murdered by guns every day. Year in, year out. And it's been like this for decades.

Think about that. Could you imagine the uproar in this country if two and a half Sandy Hooks occured every single day to white Americans? The most recent numbers I could get from the US Census (2007) show a very disturbing fact. If you're black, and especially if you're a black male you're much more likely to murdered. Look at the homicide rates by race/gender

White male: 5.4 out of 100,000
White female: 1.9 out of 100,000
Black male: 39.7 out of 100,000
Black female: 6.2 out of 100,000

No, that isn't a typo -- 39.7 -- more than 20 times the rate of white females and 7 times the rate of white males.

What drives these horrendous numbers? Poverty, crime, gangs (though less than I suspected. Gang killings amounted to less than 6% of murders in 2008 and 2009). If we worked to reduce poverty and crime in this country (and getting rid of the failed 'War on Drugs' would go a long way to doing that), factors that influence non-white communities far more than white communities we could eliminate a Sandy Hook every day in this country. Just not one that will get reported on every day. And yet in all the discussions we're having I hardly see a mention of poverty in THIS country as a major contribution to the gun deaths in this country. It's offered up constantly as a reason countries with higher gun death rates then the US shouldn't be considered when talking about the situation here. Instead we're fixated on 30 round clips and AR-15 Bushmasters.

Why is that? Can we talk about the real gun death problem in this country while we mourn those 20 dead children in Sandy Hook? Can we do both? Or can we only see the white victims of guns?


I wanted to say something about this before (finally) heading to bed this morning. I get that some people think the best thing to say about this diary is that I'm an asshole. Call me one if you think that will help, I've been called worse by better.

No, I don't want to diminish the tragedy of what happened in Newton. Far from it. What I want to call attention to is the travesty that is going on right under our collective white (and as I implied upturned) noses. Here is a slightly edited comment I made as I decided to wrap up this diary

I didn't expect to change a lot of minds or even open a lot of eyes. As I said, I didn't want to write this diary. Goodness knows I'm not the best at talking about this issue. But it has to be talked about. Hopefully better folks than I will continue the discussion. I can't help looking at the problem numerically and seeing the social impacts. If we stop to think about it on that horrible day in December the death toll from guns in white America quadrupled from about 10 to about 40. To match that same level on an average day in America the black gun death toll would have to fall from 10 to about 7. On any day of the year, on average, the black community in this country suffers the equivalent of a Sandy Hook. And nearly every single day they do so in silence. And I can't choose to ignore that. Not anymore.
To all who took offense with my handling of this subject I do want to say I'm sorry. I'm a piss poor writer on a good day and maybe this wasn't even a good day for me. But I also want you to take a good hard look at why you were so offended by what I wrote. What I'm offended by is I was blissfully unaware of just how horrible the problem of gun violence is to minorities in America. Hopefully I've made at least of few of you aware of it as well. If so I'll call that a good day for my writing.

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Originally posted to ontheleftcoast on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 04:38 PM PST.

Also republished by White Privilege Working Group, Barriers and Bridges, and Community Spotlight.

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