On average, about 19 children are shot daily in America and about 1,300 youths under age 18 die yearly from firearms, with about 6,000 going to the hospital for non-fatal gun injuries, says the 2017 Journal of Pediatrics.
In one bloody weekend in Chicago this year, 60 people were shot, seven murdered, in all 1,998 people shot and 393 dead from firearms so far this year. In D.C., home of the Pentagon that safeguards the world, 98 people were murdered this year with six of the victims younger than 18; one, bludgeoned to death, was only 2 years old.
To some, these are just numbers, statistics, nothing exceptional or out of the ordinary — if their significance can be judged by the time spent on these tragedies in presidential debates, news coverage or from the pulpits.
Such tragedies falling beneath the care line, are what keeps Stephanie Myers trying to shine the spotlight and national attention on violence, an urgent matter of life or death. It is why, as co-founder of Black Women for Positive Change, she is co-hosting a town hall meeting on Oct. 19 seeking solutions. The panel is called Violence is Not Normal — which raises the quick question of why it has become so normal, so accepting, that the idea that it is normal has to be refuted.
Looking deeper into the statistics, it is easy to see why Myers and others might wonder is race the reason for the apathetic response? The same Journal of Pediatrics’ Study shows that black children suffer the most from gun violence overall, making up 35 percent of its child victims in the United States, even though only about 13 percent of Americans are black.
“About 400 black children under the age of 18 are thought to be killed in firearm homicides each year,” the study says. “In fact, black children are about 10 times more likely to die in gun murders as their white and Asian-American counterparts.”
Despite these heartbreaking facts, what pulls black murders out of the no-news file are when they serve a larger politicized issue, such as a white cop shooting an unarmed black person, but when it’s black-on-black homicide, the tears and hurts are hidden behind a wall of apathy, shame, fear or frustration.
Stephanie Myers is trying to break through this wall. She and Daun S. Hester, co-chairs of Black Women for Positive Change and the Positive Change Foundation, will hold the town hall from 2:30 p.m. – 5 p.m. EST on the D.C. campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital, 1100 Alabama Avenue SE.
Myers is hoping that her national group of partners can help create a platform that each murder will be treated with the sensitivity that the fallen could be our own mothers, our daughters or sons.
“While some of us have not suffered personally from the tragedies, we do not want this to get to our homes before we take it personally enough to act,” she says.
Susan Bro is one of the panelists. Her daughter Heather Heyer was murdered when a member of the Klan-Nazi hate group ran an automobile into the crowd of peaceful protesters in 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Other speakers include Dr. Bahiyyah Muhammad, Howard University professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, attorney Donald M. Temple, Kent Alford, director of Prince George’s Capital Region University Medical Systems and Care, and Queen Afi, mental health/domestic violence consultant.
Youth will also participate from the Jim Vance Media Program at Archbishop Carroll High School, Luke Seymour Academy and the Purpose Program.
The town hall meeting is one of many events Myers and Hester, along with good brothers, such as Frank Malone, head of 100 fathers, have led in an effort to Change the Culture of Violence nationally and globally. This year they will be holding their eighth annual Week of Non-Violence, which has chapters in eleven states as well as the UK.
Over the years the group has produced three films, “On Second Thought,” “The Red Flags of Domestic Violence” and “The Drop,” stressing the importance of youth getting an education, was viewed in 52 schools in 18 states. Their workshops, media events, congressional meetings, film screenings and essay contests all seek ways to de-escalate violence, control anger, eliminate racism and to respond to implicit bias.
Nationwide, the public is invited to participate in the free annual Week of Positive Change, Nonviolence and Opportunities from Oct.12-20. Honorary chair is former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, vice chair is Rep. Gwen Moore (Wis.) and honorary co-chairs are MSNBC reporter Michelle Bernard, social justice activist Kemba Smith and Charles Steele, president/CEO of SCLC.
The week’s activities in cities around the nation, will provide opportunities for individuals, organizations, youth, millennials, faith institutions, business leaders, athletes and educators to organize large and small events, around the United States and the world that promote non-violence, de-escalation, peace and getting along.