By Rev. Dr. Jim Holley
It amazes me about the high level of media focus, coverage and conversations that are generated when America experiences mass shootings and killings. Don’t get me wrong, it’s horrific, despicable and unconscionable, to say the least, when someone picks up a hand gun or an assault rifle, such as an AR–15 or AK-47, and commences to shoot and kill as many innocent people as possible.
Yet, the’ focus, coverage and conversations in the news pale in comparison when mass shootings and killings occur in urban America, home to a lot of black folks. Chicago is a classic example. There are a great number of black people shot and killed in the Windy City every day, with a higher count often coming on weekends, especially during the warmer times of the year. In many cases, the weekly number of black people shot and killed in Chicago exceeds the number of individuals killed during a mass shooting in various other sectors of the country. Just like Chicago, the same can be said about shootings and killings in other high black-populated urban cities, including Detroit, St. Louis, New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Kansas City, Mo., among others. In St. Louis alone, 12 kids have been shot and killed since April of this year. That’s right, black kids murdered. However, there hasn’t been that much national media attention about the killings, or much public outcry outside of St. Louis and the state.
Local television news outlets in the aforementioned cities carry stories of the tragic and deadly murders of our black children, men and women, just before the news outlets air the weather and sports. Well, the climate for black people shot and murdered is not a sunny report, and it “ain’t” a game.
In other words, nobody is talking much about the murders by guns in urban America. The more I hear about our people shot and killed in mass numbers, the more I ask the question: does anybody really care about what’s going on in Urban America? We say black lives matter, but does it resonate to the point of “sustained” actionable behavior on our parts to prove that it matters, or is “black lives matter” simply a catchy cliché that attempts to prove to the world that our lives should mean something.
Look at the murder and other crime statistics of any of America’s blackest cities and tell me how the phrase “black lives matter” lives up to its original intent started by the organization called Black Lives Matter. And tell me which presidential candidate has campaigned and explained his or her urban agenda; you know the urban agenda that addresses gun violence in the inner city sectors of this country. I haven’t heard anything about how these presidential hopefuls plan to challenge the NRA about mass shootings and killings in urban America.
It’s obvious that we must address all the issues surrounding black homicides, especially in urban America. We can’t be just talk; we have to be about the walk because action speaks louder than words. And guess what, my brothers and my sisters, vast murders by guns in urban America have been going on much longer than the types of mass shootings and killings we have seen in abundance since Columbine a scant 10 years ago. We must do everything possible to curtail these shootings wherever they occur, including communities where black folks live.
Sometimes I feel our so-called leaders of this nation, and even some of our civil rights advocates, don’t give a good hot chocolate about what’s going on in urban America. Yet, we as black people must come together now more than ever. We must strategize and create a strong and comprehensive urban agenda that begins in 2020 and will be beyond reproach. And we must make sure that this agenda gets to the people in charge of changing local and national laws and creating policies that empower black people. It is incumbent on our black national, state, local, community, civil and social organizations, and all other stakeholders, to understand that we must have that agenda in place long before the 2020 presidential election. Our voices and our concerns must be heard and felt and acted upon to stop the deadly shootings and other critical issues facing black people.
We must get past all the gatekeepers who want to stop or filter what goes in and what goes out. However, the time is over for being gated in, fenced in, boxed in, and done in by anyone, even if they look like you and me.
At some point, we have to understand that nobody really cares anything about us. Therefore, we have to care about ourselves, our families, our communities, and our futures.
And that my friends…is The Gospel Truth!