By Arelya J. Mitchell, Publisher
The Mid-South Tribune and the Black Information Highway
As terrible as the events were at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, it showed that such events can happen anywhere. Even in a state that personifies wealth and sophistication and at a school setting that seemed idyllic and safe.
Outside of the tragedy and immense sadness, it also showed how a society through its mainstream media can zero in with a simplistic mind mode to blame one entity for it all: the N.R.A. (National Rife Association). Every time there is violence of this magnitude, cries go out to dismantle the N.R.A. and to blame totally the N.R.A. For the record, I am neither a proponent nor an opponent of the N.R.A. I am probably in the company of many who cannot understand why weapons of such destruction are sold to the public anyway. I mean it’s not as if this much fire power is needed to annihilate Bambi.
I am just trying to figure out if minds have gone back into some type of caveman simplicity that it cannot comprehend that when these unimaginable (and ironically, now more imaginable) events happen that the problems also stem from the ‘home’—inside the family.
With this type of reporting, one would have thought that the N.R.A. had given physical birth to Adam Lanza and babysat him every night. As the story unfolded, the media delivered a rash of information that turned out to be misinformation, mistaken identities, and what have you. And with my being a journalist, I know this happens when a story is unfolding. It is the nature of the beast, and still we need to be grateful to live in a society where information can get out quickly albeit sometimes flawed as we journalists are only humans, too.
The latter on miscommunication is not contention. My contention remains that not once in nearly two full days of coverage was Adam Lanza’s home life brought up as a glaring factor in the senseless killings. For heaven’s sake, this young man shot his mother in the face several times reportedly while she slept! It was her guns that he used to slaughter innocent children. She had dotted her I’s and crossed her ‘T’s’ to secure these weapons of children mass destruction.
If a Black woman or Black man had purchased the type of weapons Adam Lanza’s mother was purchasing, the S.W.A.T. team would have been called in before he or she could get out the front door.
Had this event happened in an inner city school and 20 small Black bodies had been slaughtered, it would have made a slight headline for a nana-second. Because you see, incomprehensible violence has been happening for a very long time in inner city neighborhoods and schools. Several months ago, there was nil coverage of Black parents, clergy and concerned citizens who took to the Chicago streets to protest the crisis of gun violence in their neighborhoods and schools. Black parents grieve like white parents. Grieving is universal.
Had this happened at an inner city school with children of color, it would have been viewed as ‘normal’ because these disadvantaged children are from ‘bad homes’ anyway and they live in ‘bad neighborhoods’ anyway, and their schools are quasi-prisons anyway.
Again, it is interesting to note that the N.R.A. is only brought up when slaughter results in mostly white victims. Witness any event from Columbine to Virginia Tech to the Colorado theater Batman shooting, to upscale mall shootings, to Sandy Hook.
Seldom if ever has the N.R.A. been singled out as the lone bad boogie man in these ‘Black’ instances, or even brought up for that matter.
It should not have made any difference what color the victims were; it should have made no difference what color the children were. But it did and it does. That’s the reality of violence which is that children of color remain throw-aways.
But when the chickens come home to roost and 20 white babies are slaughtered, then they get it! But not really, because as I pointed out earlier, the focus has totally been on the N.R.A. and not on the fact that most of the time crime starts ‘at home’, but because white Adam Lanza was from a white family then something else must be held accountable for his actions: namely the N.R.A. Granted there are parents and guardians regardless of race, color, or creed who do their best or at least try to and still something goes horribly awry. But that’s besides the point because from day one, mainstream media has yet to blame Adam Lanza himself, or possibly his gun-toting mama, or his absentee father who hadn’t seen the boy in nearly two years. If one were to do a two-day content analysis of the coverage, it becomes quite clear that Adam Lanza came from a perfect Leave It to Beaver family until the N.R.A. visited them as the mean old uncle.
What is really so morally wrong and warped is when a society no longer makes a family accountable for what happens to their children, especially if the family is white? Again, I have to ask whatever happened to that thinking of ‘it starts at home’?
Whatever happened to individual responsibility? And let us go further: Why was it nearly two days and a tad more into coverage before the issue of mental health was even brought up? And I don’t care how politically incorrect I sound, but any fool who looked at Adam Lanza’s picture could tell something was off about him. Way off!
Why aren’t cities and states blamed for some of this violence when many of them have either discontinued or cut to the bone facilities that treat the mentally ill of the poor and people of color?
Why? Yeah, yeah, because these facilities benefited throw-away people. The N.R.A. did not make these decisions (though this would be a good project on which to spend some of that lobby money they have floating around in the millions).
Maybe mental health should be part of the dialogue in all this new health care legislation and other gobbledygook on only physical health care.
And then (and you can call me crazy), I believe there are simply some people who are just plain evil. They know it and they don’t care. I mean was Adolf Hitler mentally ill? Would that explain why so many everyday working German non-Jewish citizens sat about and let Hitler march German Jewish citizens into gas chambers? Were the killers of Emmett Till mentally ill as they dismembered him? Were the D.C. snipers mentally ill as they aimed specifically at random targets? Was Charles Manson mentally ill as he methodically got others to carry out his deeds? Were the everyday white citizens of the United States who sat around and let thousands of Black men and boys be lynched to an epidemic proportion mentally ill? Or are the Black citizens of a neighborhood mentally ill when they accept random killings and maiming of their children as ‘normal’?
Or is a nation holistically mentally ill when it creates schools in the inner city as quasi- prisons and don’t expect sooner or later that the chickens will come home to roost in their idyllic middle-class and upper middle class neighborhood schools? Or is it that they are just evil? Or is it a combination of problems thereof that they view some children expendable? Or is it the damned-if-you do and damned if you don’t media that has to report this type of violence and hold its breath that copycats don’t come out of the woodworks?
Who is the blame? What is to blame?
And getting back to mainstream media white bias: You look at the Columbine killings—this was ‘white on white crime’. Probably like many, I can’t even understand where those white teen boys found these guns? I can’t even phantom where they even got that much money to make the purchase for this type of ammunition! Most Black kids couldn’t even begin to purchase the weaponry these spoiled brats had. Did their parents dish out that type of allowance for them to make such a buy of machine guns and other firearms I can’t even name? These were parents who laid down big cash for expensive cars and other indulgences for their kids who went to yet another idyllic upscale school in an idyllic setting to kill. And again, the N.R.A. was singled out as being the lone boogie man. Yes, because it was a tragedy that involved mainly young white victims, their white parents were not focused on—not like the N.R.A. was. To this date, I’ve yet to hear that something terribly was wrong in the Columbine boys’ homes. The parents of these young killers—young monsters—were given their privacy and left blameless while the N.R.A. was (justifiably or not justifiably) crucified.
People, something was wrong at home! Adam Lanza’s home was screwed up. This is where it started, and you have a media that just won’t say it, because it remains under the allusion that if it happens in white suburbia idyllic upper upscale America allegedly so sophisticated that only the ‘rednecks’ of the N.R.A. can be responsible when mommy and daddy could have possibly screwed up . And who’s to say that mama Lanza wasn’t dogging her son out to a point of no return? Or that this 20-year old misfit decided he wanted to sit down, plot, plan and eventually execute his plan with young innocent lives instead of having the decency of just killing only himself if he was this mad at the world.
Maybe it is high time that some white parents accept the responsibility and blame for their children’s actions, and for the mainstream media to make these parents part of the first paragraph of a story instead of a disappearing afterthought, which is happening in the Adam Lanza case.
And maybe as kids go into high school parenting courses should be mandatory more so than sex courses, which just might be a step in getting families back on track—as humanly possible. Because no matter how sophisticated a society thinks it’s getting, the family still remains the core of society’s mores.
Yes, there should be gun control. But this propensity and this need to blame the N.R.A. for whatever ails society borders on self-inflicting wounds that make for the same suicidal-murder pact that Adam Lanza had in his sick ass mind.
As of this writing, I have yet to see a mainstream news story which has begun to delve into Adam Lanza’s home life; and, to reiterate, if there is one, it’s buried under the allusion that white families are civilized and perfect. Why everyone knows that white families don’t have drug pushers, drug addicts, murderers, thieves, drunkards, shoplifters, juvenile delinquents, mentally disturbed, etc. But they do have the N.R.A. to blame.
We offer our condolences to the families of the Sandy Hook massacre just as we continue to offer our condolences to so many other families regardless of race, color or creed that have endured such cold-blooded violence for no reason.
Sandy Hook showed that school violence can happen anywhere, but the thing is that it should not have happened anywhere.