Ready. Aim. Tired!

Over the weekend I heard the pundits offering their opinions with regard to the impossibility of moving some type of legislation regulating gun control. Thankfully, most didn’t seem to be of the belief that some form of gun control wasn’t warranted but held to the prevailing notion that Congress is incapable of standing up to the NRA, National Rifle Association (NRA) lobbyists, arguably the most powerful lobbying group on the Hill. Before you go beating me over the head with the 2nd Amendment hear me out. The 2nd Amendment was adopted in 1791. At that time there was no Property Rights law, no police force or National Guard – at least not as we now know them to function today (some 221 years later) and there were certainly no semi-automatic weapons or assult rifles with clips that hold multiple rounds. Many will argue the 2nd Amendment’s primary concern was for individual citizens’ protection against corrupt government or tyrannical government officials. Whatever the case, it is an amendment that is birthed in fear. Whether you fear your government or your neighbor, is the answer to take up arms and shoot them?

The Washington Post reported the NRA spent $6,700,000 on the mid-term elections of 2010. Over the last twenty-plus years the NRA has spent over $75,000,000 on political campaigns. The Association’s four million members have many in their ranks who are “one issue” voters meaning they decide who they will or will not vote for based soley on where that candidate stands on one particular issue. As a former legislator, one issue voters, for me, were always maddening. These were the folk who were most likely to “cut off their nose to spite their face” and there was rarely any room for compromise.

As politically impracticable as it may appear something real must be done concerning gun control. This is not a new necessity to those of us who live or have grown up in America’s big (and sometimes not so big) cities. Growing up there were times I would lay down to sleep and hear gunfire in the distance. I would wonder what the papers would read the next morning if the media bothered to investigate at all. Unfortunately, gunfire and death in the city was not an anomaly. By the grace of God I never fell victim to gun violence though I had friends and friends of friends who either died or were irreversibly altered – mentally and/or physically by the same. I do not mean to appear “gangsta” nor as some “survivor” of a war torn inner city but I write to give voice to that reality as most “gansta’s” don’t really take time to write. But I digress. The point is gun violence has been an issue in America’s cities for decades yet the cry for “something to be done” is only heard when an “unspeakable tragedy” like what happened in Columbine and Aurora, Colorado, Virginia Tech University and yes, even in a neighborhood in Sanford County, Florida occurs. If George Zimmerman had no gun he would have kept his _ _ _ in the car.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in 2006 through 2007 there were 25, 423 murders by gunfire in America’s inner cities. If those numbers remained constant through today, guns would account for more than 100,000 deaths in America’s inner cities alone never mind movie theaters, schools and institutions of higher learning. The CDC goes on to mention that almost 70% of all firearm homicides are from people in 50 of the nation’s largest cities. I find it interesting it’s the CDC that keeps the murder stats. This could lead one to believe that murder is a disease … an illness … a symptom of systems gone awry. We should respond to it like a first time parent to an infant’s spiking fever. Every murder is an abomination and every life is just as precious as the next; whether the blood is shed in a movie theater’s aisle, a school’s cafeteria or the hard pavement of the city streets.

I would like to think we have grown as a human race beyond the savagery of our past but here we are … again. For what are you waiting Congressional representatives? More lives to be lost? Is the fact that fighting the NRA may cost you your seat worth the continued consequence of not fighting at all? For what are you waiting my fellow Americans? For the next victim to be related to you before you act? Just because we have the right to bear arms doesn’t mean we should. Do we not find it ironic that we have a “right” to bear arms but no “right” to healthcare to fix the damage wrought by our “right” to bear arms?! Prayers for the victims of gun violence anywhere. Prayers for the victims of dumb silence everywhere.

Omission Breeds Suspicion: Healthcare & The Lack of Minority Points of View in the Media

Lately, I can’t click on the television (sometimes referred to as the tell-lie-vision) without seeing throngs of angry, predominantly white folk screaming about health care. In some cases they are indoors and at other times they appear to be assembling outside and they are heated! Bill Maher made the best comparison to date when he said, “White people in Town Halls acting like black people in movie theaters”.

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Regardless of what city I may find myself during the news hour I make it a habit to scroll only through the local stations– as much as love CNN and MSNBC and the like, I purposefully ignore them at that time because not everyone can afford cable and I want to see what Joe Everyman and Jane Everywoman are seeing because – “truth be told”- that is where most of America’s opinion is being formed or validated.

Now, is it just me or has anyone else noticed that there are no minorities being shown verbally wrestling with the members of Congress at these forums? When I proffered this question to some of my friends I got two quick responses: “…I was concerned with the two sisters I saw being escorted out and wondered why that was shown over and over and over…” and a second response stated, “There was a black woman getting into an altercation at one of the Town Halls”.

It was safe for me to assume that this image, seen by two different people, with two different points of view were one and the same. An addendum to my initial problem was born. First, the lack of minorities depicted troubled me. Secondly, the only depiction brought to the fore was “… a Black woman getting into an altercation …” with … wait for it … ANOTHER BLACK WOMAN! Or so it would appear because there was no explanation given and they were not interviewed. They were escorted out by the police and from the footage it is hard to tell what exactly transpired but it is suspected that they were supporters of President Obama and they were thrown out for disrupting the meeting by waving signs that expressed that support.

All that being said, what are we to conclude from the fact that all over the local news channels these forums appear to have been virtually devoid of any people of color on an issue as important as Healthcare?

A) Minorities don’t care because most are not insured anyway
B) Minorities have no opinion
C) Media doesn’t care about the opinion of minorities
D) Minorities have to work and don’t have the time/energy to attend these forums
E) I am just preoccupied with the issue of “race” and how it manifests in society
F) All of the above

But wait!

When I sat down to write this I thought that my topic would be healthcare and its reform. I am finding that as I continue to write and analyze what we have been shown on television (“we” being me, Joe Everyman & Jane Everywoman) I realize what bothers me at my core … Race.

I have always been and will forever be fascinated by the issue of race and its chokehold on this nation and her progression. Simply fascinated by the fact that whenever America shows how great she is or how terrible she can be it has stemmed from an issue of race. And for those of us who want to deny its power – especially over this nation – even the defense of its denial robs us all of valuable time and energy better spent on issues of mutual import.

So as I alluded to earlier it would appear that Black folk and other minorities are not interested in the issue of healthcare or the recent forums. According to what I have seen on Joe & Jane’s news stations, Black folk have no interest in the issue on any level. As the news reporters scan the nation since the recess of Congress, have you seen them stop by any Black member of Congress’ – House or Senate – Town Hall meeting to date? What’s that? Representative David Scott of Georgia you say? True, the media did stop by his office and they never went inside. They interviewed him outside and the main thrust was not the merits of the bill or the intricacies of healthcare reform but rather the swastika spray painted on the sign to his office.

Are we to believe that even Black, Latino or Asian (so called) leaders (I can use that term no more loosely) and elected officials have no interest in healthcare reform?!? Of course they do. The omission borders on criminal. And omission, whether it be intentional or unintentional, helps to create and sustain division … or at least the appearance thereof.

Omission Breeds Suspicion: Healthcare & the Lack of Minority POV in the Media © 2009 by Wendell F. Phillips