Filed Under:  OpEd, Opinion

Black life and death not a public concern

5th May 2014   ·   0 Comments

By Dr. Barbara Reynolds Columnist

In spite of all the dazzling media tools bringing about instant global communication, Black life is still often devalued, marginalized and grossly under the radar of public concern.

Two startling recent examples of this repugnant negligence happened in Chicago and in Nigeria. Major news organizations are giving virtually blanket coverage to the Malaysian Airlines flight 370 lost somewhere over the Indian Ocean, but are virtually ignoring the 223 missing Nigerian school girls who were kidnapped recently by Islamic extremists.

The same shameful lack of concern was displayed as violence spiraled out of control ending with 48 people, mostly Black being murdered in Chicago over the three-day Easter weekend. Five of the victims were children between 11 and 15 who were playing in a park next to an elementary school, the Chicago Tribune reports. The youngest had just returned from church and shared Easter dinner with relatives when a car pulled up and opened fire. She was struck by two bullets, one of them puncturing her lung and breaking her collarbone, leaving her in a critical condition.

Equally sad is the lack of attention so-called Black politicians and clergy give to these horrendous episodes. It is as if Black life imploding from the bottom has become disconnected to those enjoying more comforting realities at the top.

In Nigeria, the abduction was reportedly carried out by Nigerian Islamist extremists, known as the Boko Haram, a group linked to al-Quaida. The abductors reportedly struck after midnight on April 14 at the Chibok Government Girls Secondary School in North-eastern Nigeria, school officials have reported.

So far, no one seems to know what is happening to these young women. In February, Boko Haram – whose founding purpose is to defeat the influence of western education and all education for girls – murdered 59 students.

This group, according to police reports, is militantly and violently carrying out their expressed goal of establishing an Islamic Shariah state in Nigeria, whose 170 million people are about half Muslim and half Christian.

This latest adduction is not new. Others have taken place where women and girls have been forced into sex slavery, according to Nigerian officials.

It appears to me that the Nigerian authorities are dragging their feet on releasing the conditions of these girls. If all have been returned, what was their condition? And what is going to prevent this from happening again or to ensure girls can get an education. What U.S. political and grass roots should be involved and why aren’t more coming to their defense?

In the same way that the plight of these African girls does not seem news fit to print, neither is the Black-on-Black carnage in Chicago.

Anytime you had nearly 50 people shot, one as young as eleven years old, this is a war zone. This is terrorism. This would be considered an epidemic if the bloody wounded were whites the National Guard no doubt would be called out. But since this is happening among the Black poor, the media and Black leaders seem numb to the devastation.

The dead and wounded are somebody’s child, parent, and neighbor. They had a right to grow up and to live. And we have a right to read about them, to watch, look and see who they were.

CNN has given around the clock, minute by minute coverage of the flight paths, the crew and those left behind of the missing plane. And rightly so, but when our Black children in Africa or here at home go missing or are slaughtered on our streets the press is looking the other way.

In 1946, a play called Front Page made its debut on Broadway. In the press room journalists listened to a radio report about a four-alarm. The Black newsmen excitedly reached for their jackets to race to the scene. But when the report said the location was in the Black Belt, the newsmen nonchalantly sat down and returned to reading their newspapers.

Black death or Black life. No big deal. Isn’t it shameful how some things remain the same?

This article originally published in the May 5, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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