19 People Shot in New Orleans and the Internet Hardly Stirs

According to reports, nineteen people are among the injured from a shooting incident yesterday at a Mother’s Day parade in New Orleans. Among the victims are two 10-year-old children (both children are in stable condition), ten men, and seven women. Witnesses report seeing three suspects flee from the scene of the crime, but at the time of writing, police do not have any suspects in custody. Fortunately, there were zero fatalities in the shooting.

The deafening silence (relative to other mass shootings) in response to the tragedy is deplorable, but the lack of coverage is unsurprising to people who have experienced firsthand the complete disregard of violence in urban communities. For instance, Mikki Kendall took to Twitter to explain her frustration with the constant lack of coverage:

Picture 21

Kendall’s frustration with the “shocked” reaction is reasonable and worth talking about, but the deafening silence in response to this tragedy is also worth discussing. According to an AP report by Chevel Johnson, the FBI describes the tragedy as “a flare-up of street violence,” and Johnson subsequently describes the area as a “neighborhood of modest row houses not far from the French Quarter.” The FBI nonchalantly refers to 19 people injured by gunfire as a flare-up, because the shooting happened in New Orleans, you know, over There, where They live. Classifying the incident as street violence versus terror makes the crime more acceptable to the mainstream eye.

Chevel follows the FBI’s description with one of the other reasons the horrible crime isn’t blowing up your Twitter or Facebook feed–the victims live in modest housing–read: they’re working-class.

The establishment cares even less because the victims are working-class people of color.
The coverage of this tragedy is markedly different in several ways. For instance, you won’t see profiles of the suspects. You won’t see profiles of the suspects (assuming police make arrests in the case), because we don’t want to know the stories of inner-city shooters. Hearing their stories requires that we face the fact that shootings in urban areas occur because of systemic racism, which creates a deprivation of resources. First Lady Michelle Obama, at a luncheon to address youth violence in Chicago, described it best when she talked about the boys arrested for the murder of Hadiya Pendleton:

“And you have to wonder: What if, instead of roaming around with guns, boys like them had access to a computer lab or a community center or some decent basketball courts? Maybe everything would have turned out differently.”

Talking about shootings like the ones in New Orleans would make you wonder, and that’s precisely why the media ignores tragedies affecting marginalized groups. This shooting should make you ask several questions, starting with those related to media coverage.

Share Your Thoughts