While I remain adamant that the All Lives Matter response to the #BlackLivesMatter movement is code for the exact racism BLM is confronting, I am also concerned that the tension created in that debate helps mask a much larger reality in the U.S.—one that fuels many of the issues confronting us as a people.
The truth is in the U.S., guns matter more than any lives matter.
I live in Spartanburg County and teach in Greenville County, both part of the Upstate of South Carolina. Nearby is Anderson County, about an hour’s drive away.
Last week in Anderson County, a 14-year-old white boy, homeschooled, shot and killed his father before driving to a nearby elementary school where he shot an adult and children on the playground. A few days later, one of the shot 6-year-olds died from the leg wound.
Media reports detailed that the 14-year-old shooter had been bought weapons, such as explosives and guns, by his mother, despite having been expelled from school.
This boy-shooter lives in a multi-layered gun culture—the U.S., the South, and his own home.
It is exhausting to write about gun violence in the U.S., but I feel compelled to offer briefly here something that must be confronted with care.
The caveat is that I am in no way arguing sameness of degree here. However, among those involved in gun violence as both ones using guns and ones being shot, there is a commonality of being victims within the larger gun culture created and/or tolerated by virtually everyone in the U.S.
In the U.S., a perverse cycle of gun culture exists that uses the manufactured and mostly exaggerated threat of gun violence to justify the obsessive ownership of guns.
Gun ownership and the right to own guns have been waved like the flag for so long as bedrocks of individual liberty and rights that we have lost the ability to be reasonable and ethical people, able to see through the false patriotism and bogus strict constitutionalism that are a thin veneer for crass commercialism: “gun rights” is an NRA campaign to fuel gun sales, period.
If any really want to move toward a society in which all lives matter (and I am deeply skeptical many of those people exist), the first step is to change course as a people who act as if guns matter more than any lives matter.
Trust Has Never Existed Between Cops and Black Communities, Stacey Patton