I did briefly talk about this on Sunday after finding out that a friend of mine was one of the victims. briefly because it’s painful and it’s exhausting and I still don’t want to talk about it, to be honest, but here I am.
the local FBI field office, speaking to the AP, referred to the shooting of 20 people, including two children, as a “flare-up of street violence.” it’s been normalized in the national mind as a thing that just happens in some places to certain people, and everybody nods their heads and quietly agrees that as long as what happens in the hood stays in the hood, that’s normal, and nobody needs to talk about why it happens at all.
Adam Lanza and James Holmes shoot up a primary school and a movie theatre and it sparks a “national conversation” about mental health. they’re given the benefit of doubt that something caused their attacks, some circumstance or state of mind, they were troubled. people start talking about how we can stop these tragedies before they start.
Aiken & Shawn Scott—those are the names of the two young men who’ve been arrested in NOLA today, and charged with the parade shooting—may have been gang members. NOPD seems to think so, and maybe they’re right. but nobody’s asking why these kids (19 and 24 respectively) would be in a gang to begin with, why these kids might’ve felt like they had to open fire in the middle of a parade. nobody’s asking because they assume they already know: this is just how they are. that’s what they do. a flare-up of street violence.
so there’s no national conversation, there’s no talk about how to stop these tragedies before they start, because talking about poverty and race is uncomfortable, and it doesn’t bring in ratings. because it sucks when you can’t lay ultimate causal blame on some easily identified other, like the gun lobby, or the mental health profession, or religious extremism (but only if the perp is a Muslim). admitting that we caused this shooting, America, our white supremacy and our fucked up social norms and our insistence that some lives are of greater value than others.
I don’t really know what else to say. life in New Orleans is a lot of sharp highs and lows. we have so much violence that it really does start to feel like it’s normal, even though we know it shouldn’t be, in a just society. in a just society, none of these young men (and women) would have grown up feeling like violence is a natural answer to a problem. and a 19 year old kid’s problems wouldn’t be questions of life and death.
and my friend wouldn’t be lying in the hospital for doing nothing more than dancing in the street.