Let’s be real here.
When news that the shotgun-wielding suspect who gunned down 12 people in Washington D.C.’s Navy Yard on Monday morning was a black man, was the astonishing sentiment not the same as when us natives found out the D.C. sniper was a black man?
Was there not an immediate pause, a realization that yes, a black man could be capable of embodying the same unnecessary and inexplicable terror that an Adam Lanza, a James Holmes, or a Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris have in our nation’s history of mass killings?
Simply put, were many surprised that Aaron Alexis was not a troubled white man in fatigues who had left a letter of frustration in his wake?
And is all of the shock of learning that Alexis was brown instead of white really a matter of compartmentalizing race and crime in a way that has blacks shooting innocent kids on streets in Chicago and whites killing 20 babies in a classroom?
Who’s to blame for that mindset?
Statistics for one. In a report, compiled by Mother Jones, it was revealed that of the 67 mass shootings that have occurred since 1982, 16 percent have been carried out by black shooters and 66 percent by whites.
So while numbers don’t lie, are we still wrong for assuming that a white male can’t walk into a neighborhood and shoot an innocent bystander?
It happened just last weekend when Jonathan Ferrell was shot dead with a legal firearm by a “good guy” with a gun. A white police officer.
And are we to always assume that black men can’t walk into an establishment and open fire, killing innocent people with, again, weapons obtained legally (because gun stores, current laws and the NRA deemed him a “responsible American”) with no immediate motive?
Well, it happened just yesterday when a practicing Buddhist with an “anger-fueled” past killed 12 and terrorized a city.
The truth is, racism shouldn’t be a factor in this mass shooting. So the talk, disgustingly paired with the statement that Alexis is a thug like Trayvon (yes that happened right here on GlobalGrind’s comment section), or that “only crazy white people do stuff like this,” has no place in a conversation about protecting our loved ones and proactively going to our lawmakers to change the legislation that allows Alexis or Holmes to have guns.
What racism does do is distract us from the real issue: that Americans are obtaining weapons legally and shooting our children, our mothers and our fathers when they damn well please.
And most importantly, that individuals who need psychological help are overlooked and ignored.
And then…left with guns. Because if we are to profile these gunmen in the suburbs or in the ‘hood, the one thing that groups them all together is mental health.
Note: Though, as pointed out in a constructive dialogue with one of my readers, race does have everything to do with with segregation, lack of access to jobs and education that results in frustration/mental health which affects the overall gun issue in these neighborhoods. Remember, being racist and acknowledging the effect of racism/race are two very different things.
If I’m wrong, tell me where racism fits in this equation. Or if it was ever a constructive way to justify or explain why an Alexis or Lanza would open fire on innocent people of all races.
Because at the end of the day, no bullet identifies with white or black.
Just death. So please tell me more about how that has a color.
***My deepest condolences to the families that lost a loved one in the Navy Yard massacre on Monday.
Christina Coleman is the News and Politics Editor at GlobalGrind and a Howard University Alumna. Prior to this she was a science writer. That explains her NASA obsession. She crushes on Anthony Bourdain. Nothing explains that. Follow her on Twitter @ChrissyCole for all things news & politics. Oh. And afros.