Eleven-year-old Naomi Wadler (from Alexander, Virginia) reminded the world of the black women and girls who have died because of gun violence and the startling facts associated with this reality. In her comments during the March for Life rally over the weekend, Wadler stated she was there to represent Courtlin Arrington, Hadiya Pendleton and Taiyania Thompson – three black teenagers who died from gun violence. She also stated, “I am here today to acknowledge and represent the African-American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper, whose stories don’t lead on the evening news.” Wadler added, “I represent the African-American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant beautiful girls full of potential.”
Generally, blacks comprise about 13 percent of the U.S. population, but represent more than 50 percent of the homicides. According to the Violence Prevention Center, black women and girls are acutely affected by gun violence resulting in death. The numbers of black women killed by police, and the number of black children who are shot and killed are troubling. Consider, for instance, a recent Vox report (referencing a study conducted by Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri) which notes approximately 60 percent of black women killed by police were unarmed. A 2017 report by the Centers of Disease Control, the children of black women are 10 times more likely to be the victim of gun violence than a white child.
The mass movement of children across the U.S. demanding that elected and other adult leaders take steps to put a permanent end to the gun violence at schools should make us both proud and ashamed. We all should be proud of the courage, compassion and intellect these young people have demonstrated in helping to bring this issue into the full-blown limelight of public and democratic discourse. We should be ashamed because this issue should not be placed on the shoulders and dead bodies of our children to bear. Going forward, let the adults free our children from a responsibility they have assumed because of our failure to lead. Let us own a formidable and profound related to gun control and in response to 11-year-old Walder’s plea that we each “write a narrative the world will never forget?”