Mass Shootings are a matter of concern. We have to talk about it.
Natalia: Mass shootings have been a matter of concern for years now. People argue that addressing this concern does not ease youth fear, but rather add on to it. Just in 2021, there have been at least 147 as of April 16 (New York Times & The Archive). These mass shootings have unfortunately been normalized to the extent that it has been considered a common culture of the United States. The reason for this is that the causes and factors that contribute to these mass shootings are already ignored as it is: bullying, unchecked aggression, family trauma. However, it is extremely important to not push aside the prevalent factors that go into these mass shootings, such as racial & religious motives, both of which strongly impact why they occur so frequently. To properly address the severity of mass shootings, we must recognize the nuances within them first.
Matthew: Recently, in Atlanta, Georgia, 8 people were shot and killed by a white man at a massage parlor, 6 of which were of Asian-American descent. Like we’ve discussed in a previous episode titled Asian-American hate crimes, the amount of anti-Asian hate crimes that have occurred this past year continuing onto this year as well has significantly increased. The pandemic reinforced that hatred towards the AAPI community, putting them more at risk of experiencing these direct acts of violence. Although the racial background of these victims were highlighted, a majority of people believe that the race of the victims had nothing to do with the casualties. The common rebuttal is that the person who committed the mass shooting, Robert Aaron Long, had been known for a sex addiction and other mental issues, resulting in his outburst at massage parlors like the one specifically in Atlanta. The rhetoric around Long’s mental health clouds his racial motivations. Although his mental issues cannot be something that is negligible, we also cannot ignore the fact that his victims are of Asian descent. Ignoring the racial aspect of these mass shootings normalizes them in the first place; choosing to ignore these nuances can have detrimental effects onto those who want these changes in safety to occur.
Natalia: Often times, people of Islamic faith are associated with the stereotype of terrorism. Because of this, people who arent of Islamic faith, condemn muslims. In March of 2019, a mass shooting in New Zealand where 50 were killed at a mosque, causing the prime minister to promise a change in gun control. Not only are Muslims experiencing these murders as a result of others’, multiple examples of these hate crimes are continuously happening within our country to this day. January 2019, a drive-by shooter hit a Houston mosque with intention of physical damage to those inside; luckily, everyone was unharmed. Multiple threats and break-ins took place, around the nation, with the religious bias and hatred fueling their threats. Again, these actions become ignored because the majority of people do not understand the severity and dangers of believing in any other religion other than Christianity. It is not often that we hear about these mosque shootings or any other religiously motivated hate crimes because of the certain image that our nation wants to uphold. We must ensure that those who are experiencing these religious hate crimes are not dying in silence.
Matthew: When digesting a topic as drastic as mass shootings, we fall short of correctly addressing the situation. We have often become desensitized to mass shootings due to the fact that it has become normalized and quickly justified as a matter of mental health rather than an actual racial or religiously motivated hate crime. The normalization of mental health causes a further rejection of the possibility of racially motivated hate crimes. When it comes to a massacre of 50 or even 8 people, there's more to it than just ”having a bad day.” We cannot continue the narrative of continuing on with our day when we hear about 2 mass shootings in one day; we must highlight these racial and religious biases weaved within these shootings and refrain from denouncing it to childhood trauma.