Will YOU survive (Gun) Terror in America?
By Nicole Anderson Cobb, PhD
The January 25th 2014 banner of the Huffington Post website (with the image above) read as follows yesterday:
ANOTHER PUBLIC SHOOTING: 3 DEAD
FRIDAY: Student Gunned Down At South Carolina University... WEDNESDAY: False Shooting Scare At University Of Oklahoma... TUESDAY: One Dead In Purdue University Shooting... MONDAY: Student Critically Wounded In Widener University Shooting... LAST THURSDAY: Supermarket Shooting Leaves 3 Dead In Indiana...
Yesterday, we performed that new American ritual: another Saturday afternoon sitting at our televisions awaiting word on the details of another “public shooting” in the country. The shooting occurred at the The Mall in Columbia in Maryland. At this writing, three are reported dead with five injured.
And yet, there are too many to keep up with these days. No sooner can we process one shooting at a school when another shooting occurs at a supermarket…then another on a college campus…then another at a local school...then another at a shopping mall…then another on a street corner...and it goes on and on and on…
It is as if we now “live” between shootings in this country.
As a wife, I kiss my husband before he heads to work in the morning hoping to see him at day’s end.
As a mom, I drop off my toddler at pre-school praying that they’ll have a great day…and yet ---whether dropping off or picking up--- I always check my pocket to make sure I have two things: my keys and my cellphone. I make sure I have my phone in hand just in case there might be a shooter in the school that day. That way---with my phone on hand I remind myself--- I will be able to text or call my husband from a hiding place (if I am fortunate enough to find a hiding place from which to call.)
Something tells me that my parents didn’t have these concerns when they dropped me off at daycare. But clearly, this is another America.
As a professor, I head to my own classroom wondering how today’s lesson plan on Hate Crimes will intersect with the latest gun violence tragedy…while praying our campus can remain shooter-free for one more day.
The Huffington Post headline above reflects some of the more widely publicized shootings that happened this past week. Furthermore, the recap from the January 24th New York Times Gun Report gives us another glimpse of the gun violence rippling across the country every 24 hours:
This NYT incomplete list from Friday yields at least 30 shootings in 17 states from January 23-24, 2014 alone.
Sadly, we will get more in-depth coverage and analysis of terror concerns at the Sochi Olympic games (or the violence happening in other international locales) than we will receive of ACTUAL daily shootings of our fellow Americans.
We are being forced to wonder “ Will terror strike the Olympic games?” or “Should Americans risk traveling to Sochi because of terror threats? Ironically, given the fact that Americans are being shot consistently in more and more public venues in America, you might as well take your chances in Sochi?!
Let me be clear: I pray that the games are successful and free of any acts of terror or violence…but wish I had the same certainty about leaving my home on a daily basis in America.
Late last year, many were outraged at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ warnings to French citizens to avoid certain neighborhoods in Chicago---along with neighborhoods deemed dangerous in other American cities.
As a native of Chicago’s South Side, I understood why people rejected the criticism of certain areas of the city. HOWEVER, the French may be on to something with this approach.
PERHAPS SOME INTERNATIONAL SHAMING OF OUR ENTIRE NATION REGARDING OUR GUN VIOLENCE EPIDEMIC WILL DO US ALL SOME GOOD.
Perhaps, the ridicule of our fellows will force us to deal with the way that gun violence is hamstringing American culture.
Perhaps, if other nations encourage their citizens not to visit the United States, not to trade with us, not to send their students here for study, if they refuse to send their workers here or choose not to invest with us as a consequence of our high tolerance for gun violence and the slaughtering of our own citizens…maybe then we will address our gun lust.
Perhaps, then---with the threat of economic loss (or real economic loss) connected to gun violence---we will get the message that we have to end the killing.
How dare we pressure Russian officials about keeping our athletes safe abroad during the Olympic games when we don’t work with the same intensity to keep American men, women and children alive at home?
Nicole Anderson Cobb, PhD, is currently a visiting lecturer for the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Department of African American Studies.
She is also the author of TANGLED, an award-winning play that examines gun violence in Chicago: http://www.lulu.com/us/en/shop/nicole-anderson-cobb-phd/tangled-a-dramedy-about-gun-violence-in-the-age-of-obama/paperback/product-20930899.html
Finally, she is also the convening playwright of The GunPlay(s) Competition 2013-2014, a competition focused on plays that examine gun violence in American life. For more information: http://www.samaritanroadproductions.com/contact-nicole-anderson-cobb-phd-at-samaritan-road-productions.htm