Once more, senseless violence on American soil has erupted, forcing us to pause, ponder and pray following the latest mass shooting on Tuesday, May 24, in a small town in Texas at a place once considered sacrosanct and perpetually safe – an elementary school.
Nineteen children and two adults reportedly died at the hands of an 18-year-old male, Salvador Ramos, who officials confirmed had just recently purchased the weapons used in the massacre, two military-style rifles. When did he buy them? On his birthday.
I hate to play the race card but I have to wonder, how did this young man enter the school wearing protective gear and with weapons in hand so easily? Did he appear to be a friend, a good guy, because he looked like those who worked at the school or like the parents of the children who attended it?
Truth be told, I keep hearing old white men argue about rights and privileges, constitutional guarantees that allow us to bear arms and protect ourselves. But who’s protecting our children?
Further, as a Black man, I’m far too concerned about the right to vote, or to live wherever I chose, or to attend the school of my choice, or to have free access to financial institutions that won’t deny me as a customer, than I am about being able to purchase a gun capable of delivering multiple rounds of bullets.
I cannot recall a Black man initiating a massacre on American soil. And I doubt you’ll ever read about one. We’d have been shot down way before gaining access to the front door.
Since the founding of America, our nation’s leaders — those perched along the upper tier of the power pyramid — have held fast to an ideology where racial differences define who we are and determine the levels and limits of both the opportunities and obstacles that we can inevitably expect. But skin color also makes some of us almost “invisible” while others are identified from hundreds of miles away.
In the wake of recent mass shootings in Buffalo and now in Texas, I wish I could believe that we’ll see real legislation proposed and approved to close the loopholes used by eager gun shoppers. But I doubt it will happen.
When I was pledging my fraternity as a freshman, Alpha Phi Alpha, we had to learn a poem that reminded us of the futility of making excuses.
It went like this.
Excuses are monuments of nothing that build bridges that lead to nowhere. Those who use these tools of incompetence are masters of nothing.
So, when I hear Senator Ted Cruz, a Texan himself, attempt to muffle the cries of those sick and tired of mass shootings in which our babies are being mowed down like grass in a field, I want to ask him, ‘what are excuses?’
America must be willing to revoke rules and mores that have long invoked supremacy for some while oppression for others. Until then, if Bob, Mitch or Mikey pulls the trigger, their actions will undoubtedly be attributed to mental illness, unfortunate distortions in the brain or their flawed but understandable “fear of a Black (or brown) planet.”
But should the triggerman answer to names like Roscoe, Roberto or Raheem, his future is certain — a quick execution and an epitaph confirming him as subhuman — a black- or brown-skinned “beast” — a threat to the status quo. In other words, he and others within his community must either be eliminated or extricated before more of their kind can successfully “infest” our hallowed land of red, white and blue.
If we’re honest with ourselves, we already know how to end the wave of mass shootings in America — a tsunami given license by today’s political pontificators — allowed to grow in size and becoming potentially more dangerous with every passing day. Leaders more concerned with “self” instead of the welfare of their constituents have lived under the veil of denial for so long that it has become comfortable, familiar and normative.
We need real leaders today, willing to step out into the unknown and bring peace to a troubled nation — emboldened and unafraid to risk it all for all.
Let’s stop pretending. We know how to end domestic terrorism and derail the madness that lurks around the corner. We know America, influenced albeit indirectly or inadvertently by the former Administration, now finds itself locked in a war waged by white-skinned males desperate to maintain their place seat at the top — a position where, undeniably, “membership has its privileges.”
How long, I cannot say. But there will come a day of reckoning when childhood jingles that support notions of “white being right” will ring hollow in our ears — rhetoric finally debunked and erased from our collective memories. But then, who would we be? Would we still be America? And can we endure the change that’s going to come?