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Friday, February 15, 2013

Something Obama needs to acknowledge in Chicago: Gun violence among white teens is down, up among black teens

There has been a philosophical debate this week about why the GOP has found it so difficult to attract minorities voters. I'll be weighing in on that next week and will reiterate something I've been saying for quite awhile now: If the GOP wants to win back black voters, it needs to get serious about helping find real solutions to reducing gun violence among young black men.

But it can't be based upon overly-simplified and wrong-headed stereotypes - intentional or otherwise - or more empty speeches about broken homes or personal responsibility. Such specifying may make people feel morally superior but does nothing to curb violence. It has to include tackling reform in two major institutions: the criminal justice system and schools.

Obama's Chicago speech can't address gun violence unless it takes on race

From the piece:

There is a belief -- usually implicit and unspoken -- in the response to mass shootings involving white victims, an idea that they are more worthy of mourning, national outrage, and legislative action. The tragedies in Aurora, Newtown, and other white neighborhoods were earth-shattering. But gun violence claims scores of no-less-innocent young people each year in America's forgotten urban neighborhoods -- those plagued by inadequate schools, concentrated poverty, and unemployment.

Between 1979 and 2009, gun deaths among white children and teens decreased by 44 percent, while the rates for black children and teens increased by 30 percent. These victims have failed to register on the national moral radar, and that's why it was so important to recognize the Pendleton family in his address. Obama need not shed tears or deliver the same sort of eulogy he did in Newtown, but he should conjure the same patriotism and empathy, reaffirming hisstatement that "these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods and these children are our children."

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