When is Enough… Enuf? by Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates
I’m Just Sayin’ – Dr. T’s Column 04/20/22
The old folks have an expression, “Enough is enough and too much is too much!” When it comes to gun violence in America, we are far beyond the point where enough is enough. But when we consider the Black community and RVA we are experiencing an excess of gun violence taking the lives of our young people far too often in recent months and weeks. It’s an epidemic and it has gone past the point of too much being way too much! What is happening? Why has gun violence been on the rise in our community? Lately, it seems not a week goes by that someone is not senselessly gunned down in Richmond. And the victims are disproportionately young, Black, and male. Although one of the most recent homicides involved a young Black female who attended George Wythe High School. “ They just went in my house, and killed my baby,” cried Akeyia Pernell after her 17-year-old daughter was shot and killed in her own home. The anguish and the ongoing grief we are experiencing in our community is heart wrenching. We just cannot go on this way. It’s just too much! The latest data published by the police shows that there have been 15 homicides so far in 2022, and all 15 involved firearms. Our public-school administrators, teachers, and staff have had to hold vigils and provide grief counseling for too many students lost to gun violence just this year.
This week marked the 15-year anniversary of the Virginia Tech mass shooting where 32 people, mostly young people, were gunned down in cold blood on the campus of Virginia Tech University. Mass shootings continue in America without any redress or remedy from our public leaders, local, state, or national legislators. Americans continue to experience incidents of massive gun violence on public transportation, at concerts, in clubs, churches, synagogues, and mosques, at restaurants, supermarkets, malls, schools, and on public streets across the nation. Are Americans more prone to violence than other people around the world? The fact is that there’s more blood spilled in this nation due to gun violence than any other civilized nation in the entire world. Why? Is it because of the way this nation was created? Our nation was built on stolen land violently taken. This nation built its wealth using the stolen labor of enslaved and brutalized black bodies. American “exceptionalism” is a mythology created by white men as they violently and aggressively pursued Manifest Destiny. This was a doctrine founded in white supremacy that asserted white men had the God-given right to rein, rule, and conquer. Manifest Destiny was a widely held cultural belief in the 19th-century United States that American settlers were destined to expand across North America. For them, this was an ostensibly benevolent or necessary policy of imperialistic expansion. Is America now paying the cost of the “seeds” it has planted? The Bible clearly warns in Galatians 6:8, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall reap corruption…” In Job 4:8 it says,” They who plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, shall reap the same.” America, have the seeds you have sown now born the fruit of your wickedness?
When you compound the horrible statistics in the greater Richmond region with the national statistics and the continued out-of-control police shootings of unarmed Black people in America, it is clear we are a traumatized people. Excessive news stories and media portrayals of dead and dying Black bodies are plastered all over social media and played on-a-continuous loop of “Tik Toc” style video memes. The continual dehumanization of Black people and Black Lives will ultimately lead to America’s destruction if it is not urgently addressed. In this country whether people want to believe it or not our fate is inextricable bound together. We cannot escape our past through denial, ignorance or the creation of “new” policy or legislation outlawing and criminalizing the idea of “CRT” and the so-called teaching of “critical race theory” in public education. This is a “created” hysteria perpetuated by an ignorant and entitled people wanting to hold on to their power, position, and privilege. Race and racism in America are not a Theory. If we do not face our history, our nation is truly doomed to reap our own destruction. The massive gun violence and death in this country is endemic to America, and it continues to be one of the most overwhelming reasons why America is NOT yet the great nation that it might be and perhaps never will be.