I grew up hearing gun shots.
I grew up hearing the “ghetto bird” search for suspects, its bright light blasting down dark alleys and into my neighbors’ yards. Sirens, police tape, and gang drive-bys are about as ingrained in my memory as trips to the beach and Friday pizza night with my family.
Back then, in South Central Los Angeles in the ’80s, violence was normal. Kids regularly wondered if they’d make it to middle age before being cut down by a bullet, and I prayed my brother made it home safe every night. Sh-t was real.
Murders and killings and beef gone too far aren’t rare in urban America, but they are tolerated. And ignored.
But when violence spills into the ’burbs and onto the tony streets of “the good side of town,” America takes notice. It’s predictably sad.
When a gunman burst into an Aurora movie theater last week, killing 12 and injuring dozens more, we noticed. Many wondered how such a thing could possibly occur, how senseless and unnecessary the situation all was. But it wasn’t unique.
The same night of the Aurora shooting, three boys were shot in Chicago; two died. And last night in the City of Big Shoulders, six people were shot within 15 minutes, which left one teen dead. In Chicago, these things are all too common, and yet no one outside of those dealing with the violence on a daily basis is speaking out.
While the country mourns those lost in Aurora, we cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the violence unfolding in other cities. In Chicago more than 250 people have been murdered this year. In Los Angeles, that number is 104. In New Orleans more than 111 people have been killed so far this year.
From Detroit to Memphis, Oakland to St. Louis, people are being shot down every day and no one but their families seem to care, certainly not our politicians.
As we stand with those in Colorado, let us not forget our brothers and sisters who live under a constant state of siege. While we can do little to protect ourselves from a crazed lone gunmen acting out his cinematic fantasies, we can begin to police our own communities and work toward solutions to stop killing each other.