by PAULETTE PARKER
A 13-year-old girl. Dead. Shot with a rifle while in a house of unsupervised children. An unsecured, unlocked firearm. Ruling: accidental. A loved lets out an excruciating howl in the cold street, illuminated by red-white-and-blue police lights.
A 5-year-old boy. Shot in his face while sitting on the floor in his home watching cartoons after a bullet came through the wall. He survived but lost his eye. His home, which should be his sanctuary, may have been targeted.
As I sat down to watch the 10 o’clock news, as I do every night, I was nauseated, tears welling up in my eyes and ready to turn off the television within the first 30 seconds. Two incidents, one evening. Both in Detroit with approximately 10 miles between them.
Stories such as these have become all too familiar and all too common. This should not be the norm. Carelessness. Retaliation. Whatever the reason, how have we not had enough?
Children are supposed to worry about choosing a favorite color. They are supposed to fret over not wanting to eat their vegetables. They are supposed to be learning math, science, English. They are not supposed to be relearning how to walk after a bullet penetrates their spine. They are not supposed to be losing their lives to guns.
Where is the outrage?
The latter half of 2014 was marked by grand jury decisions, protests, marches and riots. Long-mounting racial tensions reached a boiling point and exploded onto the forefront after the killings of unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers.
People worldwide were pissed, fed up, enraged – rightfully so. But when will we be fed up for our babies? Where are the marches? Where are the signs? Where are the protests when our own children are dying in our own backyards? Where is CNN, HLN, and MSNBC; is this not sensational enough?
According to The Chicago Reporter, one in every five people murdered in Chicago is 18 or younger. What makes this any less urgent than the tragedies in Ferguson or Staten Island?
In May 2014, a 3-year-old Arizona boy found a cocked and loaded semiautomatic weapon while visiting a neighbor’s house with his mother and shot his 18-month-old brother in the head, killing him.
That following July in Inkster, Michigan, Kamiya Gross was outside enjoying a warm summer evening with her father. A man approached, shot her point blank in the right eye then shot her father in the stomach. Her father survived; little Kamiya did not. She was just 10 days shy of her third birthday.
A toddler’s life was taken so heinously, so viciously, to “send a message” to her father.
How can our ears bear to continue to hear the agonizing wails of mothers as they clutch their chests and collapse? How can we stomach seeing the vacant expressions of loved ones’ faces as they make desperate pleas for tips to solve these cases? How long will we have to prematurely lower little caskets into the cold ground?
We can only imagine the potential that is lost every time a life is gone. These are our future doctors, lawyers, scientists, engineers.
As a mother, I empathize with these families and my heart weeps with them. But this is not a parent thing. This is a human thing.
Gun locks and safes need to become the standard to prevent tragic accidents. And we need to have the desire to and be vigilant about taking back our communities from perpetrators of violent crimes.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Well, lives are ending and I feel it’s time to speak up for those that can’t speak up for themselves. We are our children’s best advocates.
If the children are our future, then what kind of future will we have without them?