July 9, 2006

A Sad Death and an Unpleasant Statistic

Columnist Leonard Pitts presents another unpleasant fact, in a poignant column about a sad death:
What should we make of the way 9-year-old Sherdavia Jenkins was playing with her doll last Saturday afternoon? Sherdavia was out in front of her home in Liberty Square, also known as the Pork 'n Beans housing project in inner-city Miami, digging in the dirt. Digging the doll a grave.

Then somebody shot at somebody else -- the who and why are mysteries -- and a bullet pierced the little girl's neck. Today, a week after she played at digging a grave for her doll, Sherdavia will be lowered into one herself.
Unutterably sad.

Pitts goes on to lament that this kind of event is not a big story in the press, and goes on:
In 2004, 14,121 Americans were murdered. Blacks, representing about 12 percent of the nation's population, were 47 percent of the nation's murder victims. Of the 6,632 blacks killed, better than one in four was 21 or younger. Violence is no stranger in certain places.

In those places, kids can tell you what it's like to pass by corpses on the way to school. In those places, the skyscrapers downtown might as well be on another planet. In those places, life is hard and money is tight. In those places, boys walk about with the mean swagger that comes of a gun in the pocket and a conscience on mute, mistaking themselves for men.

In those hard and cold places, death becomes a way of life, a lesson learned young. And then re-learned endlessly. Four days after Sherdavia died, a boy named Markese Wiggan was shot to death in Lauderhill. He was 14 years old.

And so it goes. This is not a black problem. It is, emphatically, an "American" problem. Unfortunately, it is not an American priority.
Pitt does not mention that most of these crimes are committed by other blacks. Of course it's an American problem. These are our fellow citizens.

It's also a black problem, because blacks are pulling the triggers.

I hear not even murmurs of leadership on this issue.

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