Each of these incidents is symptomatic of a larger cultural problem. A culture that promotes individualism, profit, fear and disdain for anyone unlike you. A culture that is systemically racist, homophobic, transphobic, patriarchal and capitalist or put another way, just violent.
Whenever heinous acts like these occur we like to dismiss them as individual events and skirt around the multitude of factors that could lead individuals to commit acts like these. However, what would it look like and who would be implicated if we started questioning why these acts constantly occur in this country.
Is it a coincidence that gun violence has become the leading cause of death for children in America? What is the toll of an apathetic society that forces so many citizens into poverty and struggle yet, has obscene wealth hoarding at the top? What is the impact when fear and disdain for those unlike you is constantly driven into the minds of millions of people?
In the case where Black teenager Ralph Yarl was shot by 84-year-old Andrew Lester, it was revealed that Lester apparently had “racist tendencies” and watched Fox News constantly according to his grandson. Fox News may not be to blame for Yarl being shot but the company knowingly profits off of their viewers wanting to be lied to and certainly reinforce the racist ideations of many of their viewers, Lester being one of them. Often you will hear the criminalization of Black people, the dehumanization of Latin people, and the downright genocidal arguments pushed against trans-people.
For those other incidents the possible motivations are unclear except, the individuals who committed the shootings had access to weapons and disregarded the lives of their fellow humans.
Ruth Wilson Gilmore, an activist and scholar, said, “where life is precious, life is precious.” Is life precious if healthcare, housing, childcare and food security is deemed a privilege while gun ownership is deemed a right and glorified? Is life precious if death and violence in some form has been conditioned as the norm in our society?
Homeless PEOPLE populate the streets and cities of countless states. Yet, we have seemingly accepted that as some natural state of affairs, meanwhile often disregard their very existence.
For many, our first introduction to violence was most likely by our most trusted loved ones, either a parent or guardian, an individual who we thought would never harm us but hit us in the name of discipline. Often that line of discipline, whatever that line is defined as, very easily crosses over into abuse and in any other scenario hitting someone is perceived to be violent as it should.
Typically when an adult is upset with another adult they can’t just slap them or hit them with a belt. However, that type of violence is only relegated to children during their developmental stages of life.
Yet, each of these examples make people uncomfortable to even acknowledge because then they themselves are implicated in the normalcy of violence perpetuated by our culture. But if we stopped avoiding our uncomfortability and actually confronted our complicity in these modes of violence maybe we could begin figuring out solutions because it is clear that for our culture, violence is the norm, not the exception.