James Holmes, Aurora, & Batman: When White People Use Guns To Kill, Everyone Gets Sad

If I didn’t know any better, I’d think Sideshow Bob was arrested for shooting up a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado last week. Either that or that Carrot Top finally erupted in a fit of ‘roid rage after all of these years. Let’s be honest, alleged movie theater shooter James Holmes doesn’t look the part of a thug or a brilliant criminal genius; yep, he’s definitely not as intimidating as Lex Luthor. Scary looking, but not intimidating.

Maybe you’ve noticed, but I haven’t said a single word about the Colorado massacre, which saw fifty-eight people shot, and twelve people dead at the hands of one, James Holmes. Here we are about a week later, and I’m finally ready to address or even mention it in passing. Why did I wait this long? Because, to be honest, I’ve been disgusted by the media coverage and subsequent debate over gun control that it has sparked. Yes, to borrow a line from my man Corey Booker, it’s been “nauseating.” And why do I say that about only the largest mass shooting in American history? Because there’s something troubling about everyday gun violence in major US cities being ignored, and having the actions of one person create such outrage, and even a call for stiffer gun control legislation.

I know, what I say sounds silly and maybe even crass to some; yes, and maybe it’s too soon to speak this way while everyone is in mourning. But the truth remains: more people are shot and killed on average within a twenty-four hour period in major cities than the number of persons upon whom Holmes inflicted his sick and twisted will. But hey, I suppose last week’s shooting in Aurora is reminiscent of the days when crack cocaine hit the suburbs: it was never a problem until “certain people” started abusing said illegal narcotic.

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Shamecca Davis hugs her son Isaiah Bow, who was an eye witness to the shooting, outside Gateway High School where witness were brought for questioning Friday, July 20, 2012 in Denver. After leaving the theater Bow went back in to find his girlfriend. " I didn't want to leave her in there. But she's ok now," Bow said. A gunman wearing a gas mask set off an unknown gas and fired into a crowded movie theater at a midnight opening of the Batman movie "The Dark Knight Rises," killing at least 12 people and injuring at least 50 others, authorities said. (AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)

But like my man Ice Cube said in the 1991 classic film, Boyz In The Hood, “Either they don’t know, don’t show, or even care what’s goin’ on in the hood.” Which is ironic in itself because I can remember when that movie was released, there were a slew of shootings and violence at movie theaters all across the country as urban youth gathered to partake of the latest in ghetto cinematography. The funny thing then like now? Nobody blamed those shootings assault weapons, called for gun control; instead, they blamed it on Hip Hop and melanin. This week, Batman was never once blamed for James Holmes’ decision to play target practice in a darkened movie theater. Which in itself is peculiar especially when you consider that more people died in the Batman movie (as they do in violent films) than the number of people killed at its midnight showing on that fateful night in question.

SIDENOTE: The following is what I think to be the best commentary on the subject:

Having said all of that, it’s good to know that there’s at least one person who weighed in on the events of last week who was able to put things in perspective at a recent speaking event — someone with a platform to shine a light on the violence in urban communities:

“For every Columbine or Virginia Tech, there are dozens gunned down on the streets of Chicago and Atlanta, and here in New Orléans. For every Tucson or Aurora, there is daily heartbreak over young Americans shot in Milwaukee or Cleveland. Violence plagues the biggest cities, but it also plagues the smallest towns. It claims the lives of Americans of different ages and different races, and it’s tied together by the fact that these young people had dreams and had futures that were cut tragically short.” – President Barack Obama

There’s an obvious disconnect when it comes to violence in America. As a nation we mourn the tragic loss of twelve lives in Aurora, Colorado last week. And we do this while ignoring the hundreds of thousands of lives negatively impacted by the presence of US soldiers with automatic weapons in foreign countries. We mourn the loss of life in Aurora while ignoring the loss of life inflicted on many in small villages in far away places by military drone strikes. Just once, I wish we coul;d be reminded in some small way, that we live in a violent nation and are all accomplices in state sanction violence ourselves, when we fail to speak up and out about it. When we ignore this reality, we become inhuman and just as sadistic as the James Holmes’ of the world even without pulling a trigger ourselves. But sadly, when it doesn’t happen on our block, it never happens.

Finally, allow me to make this last point. In no way should we trivialize such a traumatic event and loss of life as a result of last week’s horrific theater shooting out in Aurora, Colorado. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share some of my observations from the past week. Maybe it’s just me, but things are pretty different when white people kill. Relative to when black folks or a person of color does it; things tend to play out differently One thing I know, is that white guys won’t have to worry about being looked at suspiciously as they enter movie theaters from here on out no matter the color of their hair — not in the same way as brown-skinned people with funny names who travel on airplanes; or like the black guy who “forces” white folks to cross the street and clutch their purses in fear; the same black guy who might be “brilliant” and on his way to earning a PhD as James Holmes was.

That much, I know…


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