Seventeen year old Courtlin Arrington’s death at the hands of a classmate with a gun earlier this month, should have been broadcast far and wide, as part of the continuing conversation on gun violence in schools, but it should have been.
When students walked out in Alabama last week, they stayed out for 18 minutes to acknowledge the loss of Cortlin who was shot and killed by a classmate at Huffman High in Birmingham, Alabama on March 7.
Amazingly, Arrington was discriminated against even in death. The teen’s death in the midst of a national debate on guns and gun control, somehow didn’t qualify for national attention, as she got little mention outside of Alabama.
The killing of Courtlin is part of a national saga, a national tragedy, but her death was not viewed in that context. Her death was filed away and ignored for the obvious reasons: she was Black, she was a woman, she was a youth and she was working class living in urban America.
The tragic circumstances of her death should have been broadcast far and wide under the context of: yet another school shooting, yet another young life taken too soon, yet another young person with a gun who should not have had one.
But Courtlin’s death did not register! Somehow it just didn’t fit. Not even the fact that she was a good kid, a good daughter, a good student, who had already been accepted to college to study nursing, was enough to put her death on the map.
It’s a debate among white folks, young privileged white folks vs the older reactionaries and the rulers of reaction, is what the silence seems to imply.
Moreover the press silence with a few well written exceptions, exposed their assumptions. This likely was viewed in the context of so-called Black on Black violence: nothing to see here.
Gun violence is the domain of the inner city, as the story goes. Black people kill one another, the saying goes. Violence is the purview of the Black community. This is so ingrained in the national consciousness that the mass media, which is subjected to the same propaganda as the rest of us, either consciously, or unconsciously, failed to add her tragic killing to the mix.
But this was also another senseless killing, because nothing about the circumstances would make sense in a civil and civilized society, made up of human beings. The young man who shot Courtlin, reportedly brought a gun to school because he had been robbed the previous day. But he pulled his gun out after school and apparently shot someone who had nothing to do with his robbery. Early indications suggest that he may have been showing off the gun and playing with it, when he shot Courtlin through the heart.
What did he have that a classmate thought it necessary that he rob him of it? What kind of values are promoted that suggested to one student that another had something that he had to have? What kind of values are promoted that suggest that things have more value than human beings? And why was the shooter able to access a gun right away?
School officials said it has two metal detectors. Why were they not in use? And even better question , why does the school need to have metal detectors? There are no metal detectors in Cuban classrooms, or even in most Third World countries for that matter. And neither are they required in the schools of other capitalist countries, the so called “developed world.”
Some say, ‘it is just the way things are.’ But they would be wrong. The violence that plagues ghetto America, like gun violence in general is all man made, more specifically (less someone say it is because of sin or humans imperfection) it is the result of the social/political/economic system that requires the existence of ghettos, and puts profit above the needs of people.
And this is the society created by and for European settlers, run by and for money, now bragged about by its inhabitants (even its victims), as the best in the world. It may be the richest, it may have the highest standard of living, it may be the most powerful , but it is not even close to the most civilized!
Courtlin’s grandfather summed up the tragedy best, “These children are our precious commodities. If you were driving an egg truck, you wouldn’t go 100 mph and then slam on the brakes, yet they’re taking our children down this road. They’re not caring for them.”
justice then peace