I’m weary of writing about young black children being gunned down in the prime of their lives; senseless shootings after silly arguments that result in gunfire and a trail of tears.
On Thursday, it happened again: a 14-year-old student was shot outside an Atlanta middle school and another student was arrested by police. Atlanta police said they arrived at Price Middle School in southeast Atlanta at 1:50 p.m. and found a 14-year-old boy shot in the back of the neck.
“The student was alert, conscious and breathing,” the police statement said.
The school was on lockdown Thursday afternoon and a teacher was injured after being trampled during the chaos following the shooting.
I don’t know why the 14-year-old boy was shot, but does it matter? Was the argument worth trying to take the life of a young boy?
It’s never worth it.
While lawmakers and right-wing members of The National Rifle Association debate the wisdom of gun control, African Americans have a more pressing issue to address: Our young black boys are killing each other at a rate that is causing seasoned cops to cringe.
Sure, we need stricter laws on gun purchases and we need to get assault weapons off the streets, but some black parents also need to start taking responsibility for their teenagers who can only resolve their schoolyard disputes by picking up a gun.
Remember when Comedian Bill Cosby was criticized by black folks for suggesting that there are some horrible black parents in America who allow their children to grow up to be thugs?
He was right.
How many more young black children have to die before black folks admit that bad parenting is partly responsible for the gun violence in black neighborhoods?
Guns are only part of the problem: A gunslinger mentality is a much deeper issue for young black gang bangers.
The latest shooting in Atlanta comes as Chicago’s homicide rate skyrocketed to 500 last year for the first time since 2008. The crime wave is spiraling out of control so fast that some law enforcers claim that Americans have a greater chance of being killed in Chicago than U.S. troops do in Afghanistan.
Last weekend, Chicago authorities say seven people were killed and six wounded in gun violence in one day. Among those killed was a 34-year-old man whose mother had already lost her three other children to shootings in Chicago. Police say Ronnie Chambers, who was his mother’s youngest child, was shot in the head while sitting in a car.
After Shirley Chambers lost her third child to gun violence in 2000, she said she worried about her surviving son, Ronnie.
“I only have one child left,” Chambers told the Chicago Tribune at the time, “and I’m afraid that (the killing) won’t stop until he’s gone too.”
And 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, who performed at President Barack Obama’s inauguration, was shot and killed in a Chicago park when a man opened fire on her group of friends. She was shot in the back while she was trying to run away.
Four years ago Pendleton, a 6th-grader at the time, made an anti-gang video.
“Hi, my name is Hadiya. This commercial is informational for you and your future children,” she says. “So many children out there are in gangs and it’s your job as students to say no to gangs and yes to a great future. So many children in the world have died from gang violence. More than 500 children have died from being in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Guns are dangerous because people have to pull the triggers.
We can debate the issue of gun control for the next 10 years, but the bottom line is this: Until the black community collectively addresses the root causes of gun violence in our communities, we will continue to bury our young.